Important to master English

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 04 Oct 2016

SOME people believe that being fluent in English does not necessarily make one smart and intelligent, and there is truth in the statement.

For example, there are many German, French, Japanese, Greek and Chinese scholars and statesmen who never mastered English. They, however, have the advantage of a huge corpus of knowledge in their own language.

Take the Germans as an example. There is a huge body of work on philosophy, metaphysical treatises, scientific and artistic writings by past and present scholars, scientists and statesmen in their language. Germans are also producers of technology and innovative inventions and such knowledge are translated into English for the international audience.

Works by Friedrich Nietzsche and Albert Einstein in German, Jean Paul Sartre in French, Chikatmatzu Monzaemon in Japanese, Tagore in Hindi and Socrates, Aristotle and Homer in Greek, and Taufik Al Hakim in Arabic have all been translated into English for the benefit of students and scholars globally.

English was and is still an important language of education, commerce and trade in Malaysia. Local students who are not proficient in English lose out to foreign graduates when applying for jobs in multinational corporations or even in government ministries that have international dealings, especially Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Industry, and Culture and Tourism among others.

For Malaysia to be recognised and respected on the world intellectual, commerce and diplomatic stage, we must be fluent in English. For academics and intellectuals, if they are not proficient in English, they cannot effectively communicate their research findings at international conferences nor can they write articles for respected ISI (International Scientific Indexing) journals.

Likewise, diplomatic engagements, trade promotions and government-to-government meetings with other countries, with the exception of Indonesia, are conducted in English. The language of Asean is also English.

We therefore need to be proficient in English to effectively communicate our thoughts and ideas especially to an English-educated audience.

In countries like Germany where English is not the first language, we still need to use English to communicate, as was the case with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak when he visited Germany recently.

Malaysian statesmen and representatives have all along used English in their international engagements and deliberations.

It is therefore important for statesmen, academics and all those who engage in international deliberations to promote Malaysia as a progressive and educated nation to master English.



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