Pengenalan: Pendidikan dalam Bahasa Inggeris = English-medium education

Apakah yang patut kita lakukan berkenaan pendidikan dalam Bahasa Inggeris?

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Patutkah Bahasa Inggeris menjadi bahasa pengantar di sekolah-sekolah Malaysia? Soalan ini sebenarnya telah dibahaskan sejak sebelum negara kita dikenali sebagai Malaysia lagi. Kebelakangan ini, terdapat perbezaan pendapat mengenai PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris), dengan perselisihan awam yang nyata bermula sebelum inisiatif ini dilancarkan pada tahun 2003 dan masih berterusan lama selepas pengumuman pada tahun 2009 bahawa PPSMI akan dihentikan secara beransur-ansur.

Pada tahun ini, heboh sekali lagi tentang pengajaran dalam Bahasa Inggeris dalam berita. Kerajaan Sarawak baru-baru ini mengumumkan bahawa sekolah-sekolah di negeri itu akan melaksanakan pengajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris, bermula dengan murid-murid Tahun 1 pada bulan Januari depan. Sehubungan dengan itu, terdapat protes baru tentang Program Dua Bahasa (DLP), yang membolehkan sesetengah sekolah untuk mengajar Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris. DLP telah menimbulkan konflik antara penyokongnya dan mereka yang menolak inisiatif tersebut sejak ianya dilancarkan pada 2016.

Konflik ini berlaku disamping perdebatan dasar-dasar lain tentang bagaimanakah Bahasa Inggeris harus diajar, termasuk perbincangan pada bulan Mei mengenai guru-guru Bahasa Inggeris yang harus mengambil Ujian Bahasa Inggeris Universiti Malaysia (MUET), dan mengenai penjajaran peperiksaan Bahasa Inggeris PT3 supaya ianya selari dengan Rangka Kerja Rujukan Bersama Eropah untuk Bahasa (CEFR). Berikut adalah beberapa soalan yang perlu dipertimbangkan:

Apa yang terbaik untuk negara ini?

  • Apakah keperluan ekonomi negara kita? Berapakah jumlah rakyat Malaysia yang fasih berbahasa Inggeris yang diperlukan untuk ekonomi yang sihat? Untuk si pencari kerja secara individu, seringkali benar bahawa kefasihan dalam bahasa Inggeris akan menambahkan pilihan kerjaya. Dan juga benar bahawa ramai pencari kerja di Malaysia tidak berapa mahir dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Namun, pada peringkat kebangsaan, hubungan antara bahasa dan ekonomi adalah rumit. Hasil kajian penyelidikan tidak bersetuju sama ada kemampuan berbahasa Inggeris boleh membantu pertumbuhan ekonomi negara ataupun tidak. Mungkin kita harus memikirkan sektor-sektor ekonomi mana yang memerlukan pekerja yang fasih berbahasa Inggeris, dan sektor yang mungkin tidak memerlukannya.
  • Bagaimanakah pendidikan dalam Bahasa Inggeris mungkin mempengaruhi masyarakat kita dan warisan kebudayaan kita? Salah satu sebab mengapa sesetengah orang telah mengkritik DLP ialah kerana pengajaran arahan Bahasa Inggeris dikatakan boleh melemahkan kefasihan rakyat Malaysia berbahasa Melayu, Mandarin, dan Tamil. (Nota: beberapa bahasa Malaysia yang lain, seperti sesetengah bahasa Orang Asli tertentu dan Kristang di Melaka, menghadapi ancaman yang lebih besar.) Adakah semua rakyat Malaysia perlu fasih berbahasa Melayu supaya kita dapat berkomunikasi dalam bahasa yang dikongsi bersama? Dan, jika ya, adakah pendidikan dalam bahasa Inggeris akan mempengaruhi situasi ini?

Apa yang terbaik untuk pelajar di Malaysia?

  • Apa yang ibu bapa mahu? Ini adalah penting kerana sokongan ibu bapa amat mempengaruhi pembelajaran pelajar. Walau bagaimanapun, soalan ini agak rumit kerana ibu bapa yang berbeza sering menginginkan perkara yang berbeza. Sebagai contoh, di SJK (T) Vivekananda di Petaling Jaya, terdapat konflik antara ibu bapa yang menentang DLP dan ibu bapa yang menyokongnya.

Apa yang adil?

  • Bolehkah pengajaran berbahasa Inggeris meningkatkan atau mengurangkan ketidaksamaan di kalangan kanak-kanak Malaysia? Jika semua pelajar mendapat sokongan yang mencukupi untuk belajar dengan baik dalam Bahasa Inggeris, maka pengajaran dalam Bahasa Inggeris mungkin meningkatkan kesamarataan dalam penguasaan bahasa global yang berpengaruh ini. Sebaliknya, jika hanya sesetengah pelajar bersedia untuk belajar dalam bahasa Inggeris dan yang lain tidak, maka pengajaran dalam Bahasa Inggeris mungkin meningkatkan ketidaksamaan.

Tambahan pula, ketidaksamaan mungkin meningkat jika sesetengah pelajar diajar dalam bahasa Inggeris dan yang lain tidak. (Sebagai contoh, di bawah DLP, sesebuah sekolah itu layak mengajar Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris sekiranya ibu bapa menyokong DLP dan sekolah tersebut memperolehi keputusan Bahasa Melayu yang baik dalam UPSR / SPM, antara kriteria lain. Sekolah-sekolah sebegini mungkin mempunyai lebih ramai pelajar yang berasal dari latar belakang sosioekonomi yang lebih berkemampuan.)

Apa yang boleh dilaksanakan?


Jadi, apakah yang patut kita lakukan berkenaan pendidikan dalam Bahasa Inggeris? Kongsi pendapat anda di bawah (nama, e-mel, dan website tidak wajib), mengikut polisi komen kami.

Minggu depan, kami akan memetik beberapa komen yang menarik ke dalam post baru. Sementara itu, komen daripada pembaca lain juga terdapat di Facebook page kami. Terima kasih!

What should we do about English-medium education?

Background

Should English be a language of instruction in Malaysian schools? This question has been debated since before our country was known as Malaysia. More recently, there was huge debate over PPSMI (the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English), with loud public disagreements starting before its 2003 launch and continuing long after the 2009 announcement that PPSMI would be phased out.

This year, English-medium instruction has been in the news again. Sarawak’s government recently announced that its schools will teach science and maths in English, starting with Standard 1 pupils next January. Also, there have been new protests against the Dual Language Programme (DLP), which allows certain schools to teach science and maths in English, which has seen conflict between supporters and opponents since its 2016 launch.

This has taken place amid other policy debates about how English should be taught, including discussions in May about English teachers having to take the Malaysian University English Test (MUET), and about the alignment of the PT3 English exam to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Here are some questions to consider:

What is best for the country?

  • What does our national economy need? What proportion of Malaysians needs to be fluent in English in order for us to have a healthy economy? It’s often true that having better English-language skills improves the career options of an individual job-seeker. And it’s also true that many Malaysian job-seekers can’t speak English well. But at the national level, the relationship between language and the economy is complicated. Research studies don’t agree about whether or not English proficiency helps a country’s economy grow. Perhaps we should think about which sectors of the economy need workers who are fluent in English, and which sectors might not.
  • How might English-medium education affect our society and our shared cultural heritage? One reason why some people have criticised the DLP is that English-medium instruction may weaken Malaysians’ fluency in Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. (Note: some other Malaysian languages, such as certain Orang Asli languages and Melaka’s Kristang, are facing even greater threats.) Should all Malaysians be fluent in Malay so that we can communicate in a shared language? And, if so, will English-medium instruction affect this?

What is best for Malaysian students?

  • Which medium of instruction is best for students’ learning? Two points to note: (a) Internationally, education specialists agree that students learn best when they start their schooling in their mother tongue. (b) There isn’t much research on whether learning a subject in English improves students’ fluency in English or their mastery of subject content. Some studies of English-medium instruction in universities have found that English-medium courses sometimes teach less material than expected in the syllabus.
  • What do parents want? This matters because parental support can be very important for students’ learning. However, it’s a tricky question because different parents often want different things. For example, at SJK(T) Vivekananda in Petaling Jaya, there was conflict between parents who opposed the DLP and parents who supported it.

What is fair?

  • Will English-medium instruction increase or reduce inequality among Malaysian children? If all students get enough support to learn well in English, then English-medium instruction might improve the equality of students’ access to this influential global language. But if some students are well-prepared to learn in English and others are not, then English-medium instruction might increase inequality.

Also, inequality might increase if some students are taught in English and others are not. (For example, under the DLP, a school is eligible to teach science and maths in English if parents ask for the programme and if the school has good Malay language results in the UPSR/SPM, among other criteria. Such schools may be likely to have students who come from more fortunate socioeconomic backgrounds.)

What is feasible?


So, what should we do about English-medium education? Share your thoughts below, and please remember to follow our comments policy. (It is not compulsory to include your name, email, and website in order to comment.)

Next week, we will feature some of the most interesting comments in a new post. You can also read more comments from other readers on our Facebook page. Thank you!

Comments

  1. For me, English was easier for me to access than Malay. I went to a Chinese primary school and a private secondary school. I was privileged in terms of learning English but not Malay. To me, people in the past (around their 50s, Gen X) seem very proud of having learned English and it seems to unify them. In Indonesia though, Bahasa Indonesia unifies them and creates a strong sense of identity. How do other countries with multiple national and official languages go about it? Forcing teachers to pay for MUET isn’t a good way to get buy in and I wonder what will be done with the teachers who do not meet the minimum MUET requirement.

  2. What is the root cause of teachers currently struggling with English? Sitting for MUET doesn’t solve it, it only diagnoses the problem. For me, what we need to move towards is mother tongue education – we do practice it by vernacular education but there are other ways. Mother tongue education is education based on whatever language you are most comfortable in. For those for whom the main language of instruction isn’t their first language, it is a struggle.

  3. We need the English language as a skill to be competitive in the job market, and can learn it separately as a language but concepts are universal – they don’t have languages so not necessary to learn it in English

  4. Looking at the global scene, think it’s important for us to be more proficient in English but also seeing how other countries like china and their language is getting more widely used, will English still be as important as it is now in the near/far future?

  5. Problems with implementation:
    1. Top down approach
    2. Our teachers struggle with speaking English
    3. Our teachers who teach English struggle to teach English
    4. English-speaking people not becoming teachers
    5. Demand is there but the supply is tricky – we have private graduates in TESL but they aren’t prioritized, but it fuels the private school demands.
    6. Education as a private university course option is very recent.
    7. Teacher training institutes have questionable modules or poor execution.

    Suggestions for MOE and the ecosystem
    1. Open up the system
    2. Especially for high need subjects
    3. Don’t make teachers pay for MUET. There must be other diagnostics. We work in education. Ask the KP to diagnose you, or someone to diagnose KP.
    4. Make the teaching profession sexy and publicise it more to other communities who might not necessarily know about how to enter the system.
    5. Change public higher education system application process – less of a gamble and get people who actually want to be teachers to be able to study education.
    6. Please give it Phase 3.
    7. Have intervention programmes and exit options for those who do not meet the English proficiency benchmark.

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