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English a failing subject for Malaysia despite national push
A survey by the Malaysian government has shown that more than 90 per cent of people
polled want English standards to be improved in local schools.

 By Sumisha Naidu, Malaysia Correspondent, Channel NewsAsia

 Posted 20 Nov 2015 08:30

 Updated 20 Nov 2015 12:27

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, a former British colony, is considered to be one of
Southeast Asia's more English-proficient nations. But there are still challenges to getting
students to converse confidently in the language.

It is a problem the government is taking very seriously.

Two years ago, Malaysia announced plans making it a must for all students to pass
English as a subject in a major high school examination by 2016.

But these plans were postponed after the country's Education Ministry tested out what
would happen if they did.

"If English was a compulsory subject this year, 2015, we would have had about 25 per
cent of the students failing SPM,” said Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan.

“We have about 400,000 students sitting for the examination. 25 per cent rate failure
would give us about 100,000 of students not being able to get certificates. That's a

Malaysia is home to a multi-ethnic population, most of whom are bilingual.

on the other hand. allocating funds for a Dual Language Programme in the 2016 budget. . "You go to a remote area or a rural area. Many Malaysians have some sort of grasp of the language but communicating confidently can still be a problem. there's no English. efforts to teach these subjects in English were met with a backlash from Malay nationalists. "Today we want individuals who have high self-confidence. This takes on even more importance as the ten member states of ASEAN plan for economic integration through the ASEAN Community. worried it would undermine the position of the national language. “The moment the child leaves the classroom.” said Prime Minister Najib Razak. so we need to strengthen and increase the number of hours and minutes into English language in classrooms and that's what we're doing right now. It is a pilot project giving 300 primary schools the option to teach subjects such as Science and Mathematics in English. we cannot feel that we don't need to learn English. But the Malaysian government sees English proficiency as essential to communicate with its neighbours in an increasingly globalised world. English. In the past. So we cannot be emotional anymore." Lack of immersion of English Malaysia's Prime Minister is testing the waters.Many speak their mother tongue at home and go to government schools where the primary medium of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia. is often taught at as standalone subject. English is a prerequisite in this world. especially in English.” P Kamalanathan said. the only English they get is probably only 30 minutes they get in the classroom. That's the only English the child gets. Malaysia's Education Ministry is upping efforts to train teachers and increase students' exposure to the English language but admitted it will need help. set to be launched by the end of the year. who can communicate. Like it or not.

a trainee engineer.Some Malaysian graduates agreed that their English would not have improved without their parents' support and after-school practice. In the meantime. "A lot of training actually. . watching movies.” said Moh Izzat Mohd Anuar. speaking into the mirror by yourself. the plan to have students achieve a passing mark in the subject remains on hold. Malaysia said it would also be seeking public feedback for ideas on how to increase English standards in the nation. it's an initiative for yourself.