Should English be made compulsory subject in SPM?
I think there are a few things we may all agree:
Firstly, the standard of English has gone down so much that even a STPM student cannot communicate in simple english ( see my post ‘English Language and Vision 2020’ written about 2 months ago). Compared to 40 year ago, when even a primary school drop out could sometimes speak good English.
Secondly, English is important if we want to communicate with outside world, do business and learn new knowledge. It is the language to learn if we want to have upward mobility in life.
Thirdly, to learn a language well takes time and it cannot be done overnight.There will definitely be initial pain but this pain is worth the sufferings if we look ahead.
Fourthly, learning English well does not make us any less a Malaysian. In fact, by mastering more skills and knowledge, we will be better equiped to help our country to move forward and compete in the increasing globalised world
Fifthly, most if not all of our English teachers are not up to the mark to teach good English. I was also horrified to learn that English grammar is no longer taught in school. If that is the case, the teachers that we are training without knowing the grammar, may become the proverbial ‘blind leading the blind”.
To overcome all these will be a Herculean task.. We need to have strong wills, which will not easily be swayed by political pressure.
Learn from CHina. There are so many good English speaking people in CHina now, even though they still represent a small proportion of the whole popultaion, they will become the core of a new generation of good English speakers, as time goes on.
I think we have lost a generation of good and dedicated English teachers. To overcome this, we must be prepared to send a new generation of teachers overseas, eg. Kirby collegein UK , to learn English language and the correct ways to teach English.
We can also engage foreign English teachers to teach English in schools. More time should be given to the teaching of English.
And as I have said before in that article ” English language and Visiosn 2020), we should seriously consider making English a compulsory pass subject in SPM.
The best way to achieve excellence is to have competition.. Competition produces good result. By making English a compulsory pass subject, the students will be made competing against a set standard . Those who have achieve this standard will get a pass .
The argument against this is that it may not be fair to some good students who pass all other subjects with flying colour but fail in English . If that is so, special classes can be given to those who fail and who wish to resit. If they are good in other subjects, give them all the help they need to help themselves and I am sure they would have no problem overcoming their initial handicap, especially when we have strengthened the English teaching profession.
Without pain without gain. There will be initial hiccups like all changes. But it will be good for the students and the country in the long run.