You can’t teach student English

6 years in primary school, 5 years in secondary school. That’s how much student learnt the English language in their school years in Malaysia. Yet, the subject of English proficiency comes so often in the local media.

I’m not talking about others — me myself barely can read English books or newspapers when I came out of secondary school. Let alone to speak or converse in the language.

But when I took my IT course at university, the medium of learning is all in English. For the first time in my life, I have to write in English, answering exam paper, not in an English class. It is a whole new experience to me.

Now one might be quick to say — that’s why you need to enforce English based medium in school. In Malaysia, we call(ed) that PPSMI — Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris (the teaching and learning of science and mathematics in English). It’s a hot debate and now the policy has been scrapped out.

But I beg to differ. It’s not the medium that forced me to take on English. If that the case then the 80% others who took IT course with me would now a software developer, sysadmin, IT manager or whatever job in computer industry, or at least computer related. Instead, they dumped the course, just making sure they can in ‘some way’ got their degree out.

What took me into learning English is my passion and interest in computer and programming. I love to read all those articles on programming language, how you build using these and that technology. So I need to master English.

So you can’t teach student English. The 11 years English class in school is an evident. But you can make them to love computer, painting, automative, telecommunication etc, and if that require them to master English — they will.

Written on March 27, 2018