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Is the State of Our English in Malaysia That Bad?

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Is the State of Our English in Malaysia That Bad? - WORLD OF BUZZ 3
Featured image for illustration purposes only | Source: EduSpiral
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The results of the EF English Proficiency Index just came out recently and it looks like Malaysia did pretty okay with a ranking of #13. This is considered high. Compared to other top countries like Netherlands (#1), Singapore (#5) and Belgium (#12), we’ve still got some catching up to do.

But really though, how are our Malaysian students doing in terms of the English Language?

How is Malaysia actually doing right now?



Our education system has seen a lot of changes in the past couple of years. Here’s just a couple of them:

  • Changes in the language of instruction – English vs Malay being the hot topic of debate. It’s Malay for now.

Is The State Of Our English That Bad? - WORLD OF BUZZ 1
Source: Malay Mail Online

  • A whole new way of assessing the students – Finally after using the same system for years, the government introduced HOTS (No scandal ah, just means Higher Order Thinking Skills)
  • Using Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) as a way to measure the effectiveness of our English education

But are these changes actually working?

According to the Ministry of Education’s Blueprint (2013 -2025),

“Only 28% of students achieve at least a Credit benchmarked to Cambridge 1119 in English language SPM.”

Is The State Of Our English That Bad? - WORLD OF BUZZ 2

That’s less than one third of the students sitting for SPM. Did we mention you can fail English as a subject and still graduate secondary school?

Is The State Of Our English That Bad? - WORLD OF BUZZ 3

It also goes on to say that,



“English language results are also the lowest of the core subjects at UPSR, PMR, and SPM level.”

Well, with all these info, it really looks like a lot of our school kids are struggling with English at the moment. If you try talking to some of the kids at the lower performing schools, the use of ‘broken’ English to answer a question is accepted as normal. Yes, yes, Manglish is sacred for us Malaysians but when you see common examples like this, it’s time to correct it.

 

So, what are we doing about it moving forward?

Is The State Of Our English That Bad? - WORLD OF BUZZ 4
Source: British Council Malaysia

Don’t worry too much though, as it looks like we’re making some positive changes to ensure that English is not pushed aside.

There’s an English Language Roadmap, which is being updated annually. It also happens to be part of a bigger Malaysia Education Blueprint to help reform education as a whole.



One decision that could have a positive impact is to use imported English textbooks from next year rather than the ones we create locally (only for certain levels of students though). The quality of our textbooks have always been questionable, so the import of texts would definitely raise the standards.

How are we doing really?

By the looks of it, it seems that we’re not doing too badly in terms of overall English proficiency but like everything else, there’s always room for improvement and the best avenue for us to do that at the moment is through education. At least, let’s not have English as the lowest core subject lah!

 

Also read: Poor English is Why Malaysian Graduates Find it Hard to Get Jobs

Poor English Among Main Reasons Why Malaysian Fresh Grads Have Difficulty Finding Jobs - WORLD OF BUZZ 1

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