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Welcome to CYB| Chea-Yee's Blog.

This blog captures the musings and anecdotes of the daily life of a Malaysian who is now living in Melbourne, Australia.

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ESL across the Singaporean borders.

ESL: English as Second Language.

For me, English is technically my first language. I speak English at home, to my dad, to almost everyone. My cantonese, pretty shitty grasp of it. And that I only speak to my relatives, grandmother, or my mother in it. Sometimes to friends, and to those I know have a poor command of English. Even my Malay is better than my Cantonese. As for Mandarin, let's not even mention it.

It is noticeable that Singaporeans are much more fluent in English than most Malaysians. Something that I noticed a while back. Even the Ah Lians & Ah Bengs there can speak pretty good level of English, something I noticed when I was on transit in Singapore a couple of years ago.

Even my brother observed that the Singaporean's command of English is as commendable as their Mandarin. Well, in the case of Xia Xue, I think a lot of us have more or less unconsciously observed her at that. (oh, not to mention that many Singaporeans have unofficially quite a good grasp of the Hokkien dialect, from what I have observed.)

But seriously, it is not the fault of the Malaysians that our students are poor in English. If our education system focused on English as a main language, then there is the higher probability that Malaysians nation-wide would have a stronger grasp of the language too.

But as it is, our National language here is Malay, with the reason, Bahasa Itu Bangsa. The education Ministry here is fond of giving teachers crash courses in English, and hoping that a miracle would happen after a 3 day seminar...., not to mention teaching Science and Maths in English, a miracle that the student's grasp of English could miraculously improve.

I think, till heaven come down, the probability of our standard of English going up is still a 2020 Vision, something that may take even longer than that to achieve. Ha ha ha....Well, seriously, if you think about it.

Of course, at the other end, is taking into consideration the political impact of implementing English language as the National language in schools. A lot of the older generation, especially the political parties up North will probably object to it, with their ideology that English is a foreigner's language and all that jazz, and this is a Malay country so better learn Malay in this country if you want a united country and all that. Not a simple decision for the government to make, at any point.

Oh well. You win some. You lose some. You cant have everything and eat your cake all the time.

Pity those kids who are in chinese schools and have to learn Mandarin, Malay and Chinese all at the same time. Not to mention the amount of homework they get everyday....Pity, Pity, Pity.

Anyway, was just going through my USQ Connect's Discussion Forum, and found this entry by Mikel, one of my coursemates from SIC. He happens to be a Singaporean Chinese who is currently working in a private preschool in KL.

"I have the privilege of growing up in an environment where all these languages and dialects are being spoken. It is interesting to note that both the countries have similarities in term of races and cultures. But there is a distinct difference between Singaporean and Malaysian children. Generally, most Malaysian children speak and understand the Malay language fluently while their command of English language has taken a back seat!.

In Singapore, I would say that most of the chidlren are not competent in the Malay language but their command o f English is admirable. Due to these differences, the children in both the countries are different in many ways.

Does that mean that Singaporerean children are smarter? Of course not, children from both the countries are equally intelligent, the only difference is that the two group of children are being placed in two very differrent environment.

In other words, the environment plays a vital role in moulding and shaping children including their language development. Comparatively, I also noticed that the acceptance and degree of tolerance of Malaysian children towards their Malay peers are much better because of their understanding of the Malay language, leading to better acceptance of their culture."

1 comment

Jessy said...

I'm from a Chinese primary school.
I, like most Chinese educated students, don't have a very good command in English.
But I'm still proud to be Chinese educated and I feel fortunate for given the chance to learn Chinese, English and Malay.
:)

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