Quality English Teachers?

Posted by M ws On Monday, June 24, 2013 2 comments
I did not bat an eyelid when I read this report in The Star yesterday morning.


Poorly trained English teachers are among the reasons why Malaysian students do not have good command of English, said Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

However, the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 will ensure that only quality teachers are selected in the future, he said.

Recently, it was revealed that about 70% out of 60,000 English teachers who sat for the English language Cambridge Placement Test scored unimpressive results.

“Among the criteria for those who want to become teachers is a minimum score of 7As in the SPM examination.

“I believe with a better selection and better training system, we will be able to produce better teachers in the future,” said Idris, after launching the Let’s Talk and Let’s Go Global programme at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu yesterday.

Kudos to Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh Education Minister II for not mincing his words but telling it like it is - that poorly trained English teachers have resulted in a situation where Malaysian students do not have a good command in English.

However, setting a criteria of a minimum score of 7As in SPM for those who want to be teachers is not enough to ensure better selection and better training to pave the way for better teachers in our country.

As one who was teaching for 27 years in various schools/colleges, I have seen the decline in the calibre of students in the 21st century and the steepest decline has been in the last three years.

For sure, what is needed is a total revamp of the education system so that the standard of education is raised to enable the young to compete internationally instead of being jaguh kampungs who think they own the world just because A stars have been dished out to them like samples in the supermarket.

I have seen students with 9 or 10 A stars who cannot even think critically, rationally, sensibly or maturedly and who can hardly string a decent sentence without any mechanical errors.

What is point of being armed with strings of distinctions when they cannot even communicate in English verbally and/or in written form?

Something is seriously wrong with the system.

I believe our country is probably one of the few in this world that uses a fully illustrated version (almost like a comic) of classics in Form 1 Literature. Whereas in the past (from 2005-2011) Form 1 students studied Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 and William Butler Yeats' Lake Isle of Innisfree, the standard of English has been lowered so drastically that Form 1 students now study Mr. Nobody, Flipping Fantastic, The River etc.

It is too painful to discuss in detail how deplorable is the state of affairs. I will post the poems and you can judge for yourselves. It is even worse to talk about the standard of grammar because I have come across 10A* students who do not even know the parts of speech and have no idea of what is the difference between a verb and adverb, adjectives and prepositions, the different types of nouns, active and passive voice etc - stuff which I learnt in primary school!

It is even worse for the Form 4 syllabus.

This is what students studied BEFORE the syllabus change.


Sonnet 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
–William Shakespeare

Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
                     - W.B. Yeats


Mr. Nobody

I know a funny little man,
    As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
    In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
    And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
    By Mr. Nobody.

’Tis he who always tears out books,
    Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
    And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
    For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
    By Mr. Nobody.

The finger marks upon the door
    By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
    To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill;   the boots
    That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
    To Mr. Nobody.

Source: The Golden Book of Poetry (1947)
*I learnt this poem when I was in Standard 1 or 2 and I still have the poetry book!!!


The River’s a wanderer,
A nomad, a tramp,
He doesn’t choose one place
To set up his camp.
The River’s a winder,
Through valley and hill
He twists and he turns,
He just cannot be still.
The River’s a hoarder,
And he buries down deep
Those little treasures
That he wants to keep.
The River’s a baby,
He gurgles and hums,
And sounds like he’s happily
Sucking his thumbs.
The River’s a singer,
As he dances along,
The countryside echoes
The notes of his song.
The River’s a monster
Hungry and vexed,
He’s gobbled up trees
And he’ll swallow you next
-Valerie Bloom-
Classified as CHILDREN'S Poetry HERE

Are they willing to raise the bar?

Are they willing to raise the standard of English?

Are they willing to raise the standard of education so that whatever qualifications that are acquired have value?

2 comments to Quality English Teachers?

  1. says:

    Waverly Charlotte It's no longer a hot news that there are a lack of quality English teachers, but I do hope that the Education Ministry does something about it - fast!

    I don't think the students here learn about the Greek and Roman History, either.

  1. says:

    M ws Hi Waverly Charlotte

    Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to share your thoughts. I have a hunch you could be a baby boomer like me from your statement about Greek/Roman history.

    The article was quite shocking for me for I did not expect such a high percentage to fare poorly.

    I am not sure if the situation can be rectified so easily because it entails a wide spectrum of radical changes, if at all they want to see meaningful and positive change.

    Take care and do stay in touch.


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