15 February 2010

Ha Ha Ha – I do it my way (part 3)

The Education Minister was reported in the New Sunday Times to have said that language arts and use of correct phonics will be the core of a new curriculum for English language to be implemented next year. “What is important is standard and the new curriculum will teach students according to the standard British language phonics so that our students will know how to pronounce English words as spoken by native speakers.”

That is truly fantastic.

It was also reported (in another paper) that 365 English language teachers ( any reference to 365 days in year ?) will be imported in June to train local teachers to teach this language.


Two years ago I met a very senior member of ‘Kementerian Pendidikan’ (or is it Kementerian Pelajaran?). In the course of our friendly conversation we touched on the subject of teaching English in schools and where to send our students to study. Not to show a total ignorance I tried to make a smart remark by saying that the University of Kent, England, was a good place simply because I happened to know of a number of Malayan students being sent there in 1980’s. That truly aroused his enthusiasm. He spent the next minutes giving me a lecture on selection of universities for English language studies. Obviously seeing my ignorance, he teed off with gusto,“England is not the best place for learning English.” At length he concluded that “New Zealand and Australia are the best for English language.

“Oh, is that so?’ was my meek response.

To lend credence to his powerful discourse, a young boy entered the house. “That is my boy and he is going to Australia to do TESL”. How convincing his argument was and I congratulated him for having a clever son who would one day teach good English like a genuine native.

I have never been to New Zealand and I wonder whether he had ever been to England, which may be, for all you know, a different country from UK and GB. In 1956 my Scottish (not English) landlady asked me whether Malaya was somewhere in Singapore! And I could hardly understand her strange accent although she was a native; then, I had newly been shipped to an English speaking country which I thought would have a kind of ‘bahasa baku’.


And last year a group of young American graduates of various disciplines (not English) were seen around and one, a girl, was stationed at a secondary school in Pakcik’s vicinity. Soon I began to hear from pupils coming to Almanar about the new celebrity in their school and her ‘strange accent’.


So (I must learn to use this new Malay word because that is the most commonly used word on TV today, and it will soon be in Kamus Dewan, I am sure) we are now about to go for standard British language.

In April last year Pakcik made some reference to PPSMI, the hot topic of that moment. Refer to PPSMI – I do it my way (Part 1)

Now it is ‘buy British first’. With his typical smile, our Tun Dr Mahathir must be wondering. At the same time I, too, wonder how my friend in the Dept of Education will take it now that we are not going to Canterbury of New Zealand for good English – possibly back to the old Canterbury.

Well, Pakcik will carry on doing it the way I believe, irrespective. Old habits die hard.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pakcik,
For the older generation like us, we had gone through learning English who were native speakers or those who were trained at Kirkby or Brinsford. Only in the eighties the Ministry of Education began to recruit Teachers from The Centre of British Teachers for the teaching of the English Language and I was involved in the exercise. That piece of a remark about the best English language teachers from down under is sheer nonsense. Learning Queen's English must be from it's birthplace which is England.

Anonymous said...

My Dear AKH. I have been following your blog,and have never responded,but Ha Ha Ha, I do my way [Part 3] IGNITES ME to respond.Why? Do not ask me.You and I know that we don't need any imported English Teachers from Australia, New Zealand,America or even England to teach proper English Language to our students. In reality, the experienced retired English language teachers amongst us are more than qualified to do the job. Why does our Ministry of Education not seriously consider recruiting them. My two obvious reasons are; (a) these retired English teachers, understand and are well versed in Bahasa Malaysia, making it easier to understand the need of our students and where English language differs from ours. (b) I believe by employing them the Ministry would save tremendous amount of money and public funds are not wasted as opposed to employing foreign teachers.I FULLY AGREE WITH sdr. Abdulhalimshah’s comment that the Best English Language teachers are without doubt from UK NOT downunder as mentioned by a senior member of "Kementerian Pendidikan," BY HIS STANDARD, just because his son was going to Australia to do TESL. That does not qualify him to make judgement that Australia and New Zealand have the best English language teachers. If what he said is true, why was our DPM/Minister of Education in UK recently resulting in the proposed recruitment 0f 365 teachers from UK? To old timer like me who studied English from 1948 to 1955 at the famous KT ‘sekolah kajang’ the remarks made by the senior Pegawai Pendidikan are unacceptable. Ha!Ha!Ha! to him.


Al-Manar said...

I believe many would not disagree with our common view. Unfortunately who are we to impose our views other than expressing them?

Al-Manar said...

Following the first report on recruitment of English teacherrs, the President of teachers' union (NUTP) commented in the same vein as yours with regard to reemployment of good old teachers many of whom can still be found. Great minds think alike, Zul.

Memorable trails... said...

Salam Pak Cik,
Hope both of you are in fine health.
'To import English teachers so our students can pronounce words like the natives?'Is that all that matters to those people up there?Dont they know that there are more to a language?
To me as long as what comes out from the mouth can be understood,then it is fine.Even the Americans ,the Aussie and the British speak English differently and all of them are native speakers of English.Rather than wasting money on importing them why not make use of all those English lecturers( with titles in front of their name )in our local Uni to step down into our school compound and see what they can do and contribute to our students.After all they have done countless research and thesis so why not implement their findings and practise it.Such profesional help and resources are what we need in school to upgrade the standard.And yes,I agree with you to recruit healthy motivated retired teachers who have vast experience in the teaching of English instead of taking foreign ones whom god knows could create more problems in terms of background knowledge..

Anonymous said...

My dear Pakcik..
I am amused reading "Ha Ha Ha- I do it my way". This piece of writing reminds me of your response towards
Ministry Of Education while we were in class, studying your type of English. What can I say other than keep up your way. You know well what on earth you are doing. We, your students, know how good your teaching is. Personally, I am pretty good in English (hahaha,i guess)because of you. Thank you so much for your help. I can remember your words at Al-manar. "People think free things are worthless. I teach for free but I give my best.”

Al-Manar said...

madam gold,
Having taught at various schools and possessing successful children you know what our children really need. There is no gurantee the 'imported' resources are really that good. They may not come for the reason we pay them to come.
Salaam from Pak Cik

Anonymous said...

I regret for attending Almanar two years later than I should. I envy those who started early and learned more English.

Al-Manar said...

If we believe we have found a way that suits our need, adopt it, improving it along the way.

Learning has no end. That we continue to learn shows how ignorant we are.

Awang Goneng said...

My Dear Abang Ngah,

My warmest thanks first of all to you both for having hosted me in your beautiful Nuri home. I loved the sound of the sea, the soft light in the morning, and the good conversation with you on your lanai during breakfast. I wish I could have stayed longer (and troubled you more)but perhaps another time, Insha Allah.

I am in total agreement with what has been said here about the teaching of English. If only the politicians would stop messing about with our schools, changing this and that each time a new man arrives at the Ministry, to suit a superior ego's needs. I remember a man saying this about the fate of Bank Islam Malaysia (and he was one of its founders). "I know when an incompetent person has arrived at the bank. He starts to meddle with the branches and things of that sort instead of spending his time with general policies." He was bitter that all that they had achieved had gone to nought. We have every right to be bitter too, our education system, one that worked very well for you and me, is now in shambles. And as you rightly said, we are all put into this great big sausage machine, and some of our young students are made to go through the ridiculous Matrikulasi course, which is not recognised by anyone outside our system, and which is actually eduaction-in-a-hurry for our young kids.

There must be hundreds of good, retired English teachers throughout the length and breadth of our land. Forget the Kiwis and the Kangaroos, call all these people back to work. In London there is a wonderful man (a loyal Malaysian) who has been teaching English successfully for many, many years to people from all over the world, is an expert on English verbs, and who speaks English with the clipped received pronunciation of the Beeb. Has anyone come to him to ask for advice or help? No. I was talking to him once when another Malaysian made this remark. "In Malaysia, my friend, it is not what you're worth that matters. It's how much you're worth to anyone in backhanders that counts." I once saw a group of Malaysian officers here in London on a course at an idiotic college that I wouldn't even send my cat to for a feed. And I wondered who sent them all there? And how much was that worth in kickbacks to some idiot?

Keep on with what you are doing my dear Abang Ngah. There are people out there who need your help. May God bless you both in your good work, and may al-Manar continue to shine its light.

Al-Manar said...

Abang Ngah will respond separately on Mi's comments. They deserve to be read by other visitors. Thank you Mi.
Abang Ngah

Gukita said...

It is fantastic to be able to speak proper English ith proper phonics and all... It is more fantastic to be able to speak proper Malay with Johor-Riau phonics,rather than the'Caca-marba rojak' that has become the norm nowadays, no help from the DJs that were doing the same... DS RAIS IS FIGHTING A LONELY FIGHT..

Al-Manar said...


It is sad to see Dr Rais Yatim not having followers who believe in a language in its original form, be it Malay or English. We are losing very fast because of our own people, including DBP.
Am glad to see you active again after the sad episode of attacks on your blog.