3/98              FOR MEMBERS ONLY               MAY/JULY 

English language used to be the lingua franca of this region. However, gone were the days when it was widely used. Somehow, for reasons best known to ourselves, its use has been given a back seat. Nevertheless, some among us pride over the fact that we are well versed in the English language, thanks to the fact that we were English-educated.

One cannot deny the edge one has by being able to use the language. The advent of the information technology era simply cannot dispense with the English language. A solid proof is to browse the web sites on the Internet; much materials (about 80 to 90%) are still stored in the English language.

As students and teachers, being equipped with the language opens our world of knowledge. A lot of subject matter in the academic world is recorded in the English language.

As educators, definitely we have a role to play to encourage the use of the English language which is fast dwindling among our students. We have given due prominence to our National language, Bahasa Malaysia. Has it been at the expense of the English language? Is it not high time we stress on the importance of the English language too, to our students? At the school level, much needs to be revived. We have to again, inculcate the reading habit among our students. Where are our classroom English reading corners, etc. ? When was the last time we had an English-speaking week, etc. ? The list can go on.

There should be innovations to draw our students' interest. What about suggesting to them to bring their unwanted English reading materials - books, magazines, etc. from their homes to schools to initiate a mobile school library or reading area? A concerted effort is needed from all concerned, of course. Practice makes perfect. How else can our students acquire a language if we do not allow them the opportunities to listen to, speak, read and write in a language?

A note to our teachers who are teaching the language. Search your conscience. How much have you done to equip our students with the ability to use the language? Have you been very examination-oriented? As for the more adventurous, have you thought of ever improving yourselves? What about pursuing a degree course to broaden your horizons regarding the English language? Many of our local universities offer long distance learning courses in the English language, without having you to leave your jobs! Courses include TESL {teaching of English as a second language}, Bachelor of Arts in English, etc.. They are offered at stipulated time of the year. Watch out for such advertisements in our local newspapers.

Suffice to say that as educators, unless we play our noble role, the use of the English language among our students will continue to dwindle. Our students stand to lose out! Certainly, as we approach the next millennium, we need a society which is literate in not only Bahasa Malaysia but also in the English language.

Let us not play the game of waiting for the authorities to "wake" us up and point accusing fingers at others when the situation can be rectified by us now! A noble move from us - teachers, towards propagating the use of the English language especially among our younger generation is indeed timely! Certainly, we do not want to end up in a precarious situation whereby we become the laughing stock of the world as a whole. Guess you get what I mean!

By Mary Ting

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Advisors: Tay Jik Kaw
Ong Kheng Syn BBS
Editor: Chai Kian Chun
Sub-editor: Mary Ting
Co-ordinator: Richard Liaw