Malaysian Teachers Decry State of English Education

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Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin, Ma-TESOL; M.S. SpEd

English has long since established itself as a major language of trade and culture across the globe. The influence of the British Empire and of modern American culture has left the world dotted with countries that consider English to be their official second language or even their first language. These countries do not consider English to be a foreign language but a second native tongue necessary for living within their own borders.

However, the adoption of English as a primary language is still a new prospect for many countries, and the process of establishing effective English education is still developing.

“It’s not easy you know. When I enter the school, I pray: Oh my God, Please help me. Help me. I can’t do it alone,” said Parawahida Md Nadzir, an English teacher in Malaysia. She lamented the state of English education in Malaysia as part of a video released by the Malaysian Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Permandu), which was intended to increase support for English Education programs. Nadzir and other teachers like her doubted their students command of basic grammar and feared that even something as short as a 300 word essay would prove challenging to their students.

Nine out of 10 of the countries in the South-East Asian region around Malaysia consider English to be a primary or secondary language, making it absolutely necessary for international trade and relations of all kinds. 99 percent of Malaysian parents surveyed by Permandu stated that proficiency and exposure to English in Malaysian schools needed to become a priority.

English teachers in the U.S. might find that their experience as an educator in an established English education program would be priceless in countries like Malaysia, which are still searching for ways to teach and motivate their students to engage when studying English.