Are You Speeking Engrish?

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Some time ago, a local artist from Malaysia was interviewed on a Singapore radio station. She was asked about her favourite body part.

“My favourite part of my body is my nipples.”

She meant her dimples.

Few months ago a friend went to this nice restaurant in The Gardens. He ordered the Mexican Meatballs as the appetizer. After the meatballs were served, the waiter asked:

“Sir, would you like me to sauce your balls?”

He almost choked.

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Yup, the falling standards of the English language in Malaysia has gone beyond redemption. And this is exactly the reason why I almost fell off my chair yesterday morning when I read the news:

“Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh insisted that our teacher’s English language proficiency level be on par with that of their peers in England.”

Seriously?

Come on lah – at par with the Brits? Who are we kidding?

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Of course the full-fledged RM100 million budget can enhance the language training programme for our teachers but do you honestly think they could master the language in a matter of months?

It is a widely shared perception that our educators today are mostly SPM leavers who couldn’t get into any other professions. The leftovers. As harsh as it sounds, it is the undeniable truth.

How can we expect bunch of people who did not do well in school to teach our future generation? By right, we should have the best batch of graduates to educate our children.

This provides us with a basis to easily blame the bunch of unskilled educators we have today for everything that is going wrong in our children’s schools.

Like what most of my friends would say – what do you expect when you pay peanuts? Pay peanuts and you get monkeys lah!

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But hey, hang on. I know for a fact that our teachers are struggling. They are trying very hard to do their job. Of course there are a handful of buggers who call themselves teachers but end up snoring in class. But to be fair, there are many teachers who want to excel but are finding it difficult to do so. So it is unfair to put the blame entirely on them.

But then who should we blame? Come on, we are Malaysians. We are good at this. There has to be someone for us to blame. Come on, think.

Perhaps the problem lies in our education system.

You see, the decline of English proficiency in our country can be traced back to the Razak Report in 1956 where the concept of a national education system based on Bahasa Melayu being the main medium was adopted. If only the Barnes Report (1952) was adopted, we could have had given birth to many Malaysians who had strong foundation in Bahasa Melayu throughout primary education and English medium for secondary and tertiary education.

Fast forward to date, we now have the National Education Blueprint (2013-2025). Yes, the government’s intention to upgrade the quality of English language through this new effort is commendable, but honestly it is cosmetic in nature.

But let’s get real. Without any real structural changes, I can’t help wondering if the blueprint is merely designed for cheap publicity. It’s like the same old fruit cake you send to friends every Christmas but in new packaging.

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The truth is, we cannot produce good pottery with lousy clay. But let us not forget that our ‘lousy’ teachers and ‘crappy’ education system has not affected the entire population.

So perhaps, just perhaps, the education system is not to be blamed entirely.

Hmm…in that case who shall be blamed? If we can’t blame the teachers and the education system, there’s got to be someone to be blamed. Think, come on, think. We desperately need to blame someone.

I am a product of sekolah kebangsaan. I had lousy teachers who would walk into the class and sleep for the entire 2 periods. I have plenty of friends from different generations – those who graduated in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s. All of them went through the same crappy education system as the rest of the population. However, today most of us are doing well, some are even holding regional positions in international companies.

How is it that they are capable to excel having been a part of the same education system as others who are still struggling to make a living?

You see, most of our kids go to the same school. They read the same books. They are taught by the same lousy teachers. They follow the same crappy education system. They eat the same nasi lemak for recess. They sit for the same stupid examinations. But if some of the kids can do so well in school and can even get jobs in foreign countries while the rest can only get job with government departments or GLC, then something is definitely wrong.

I get it, our education system has flaws, but take a moment and ponder on this if you would: If foreign workers from Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar take only a maximum of two months to learn our language why can’t our students master English within Standard 1 to Form 5? That’s 10 years and if that duration isn’t enough to master a language, we definitely need to know why.

Now please don’t tell me that those who are doing well are the ones born smart.

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No one is born smart. No one is born dumb. We are all born with one head, one brain, two eyes, one nose, one mouth, two arms and two legs. The only difference is if we choose to use our god given brain.

Many many years ago we began criticising about our deteriorating English quality and a decade later, we are still debating on the same issue. Everyone else around us are all striding forward while we are still here, finding whom to blame.

And while we are too busy doing that, we have forgotten to empower ourselves to make a difference. We have become a nation of toddlers who would cry every time our pacifier drops out of our mouth.

Snap out of it, Malaysians!

People need to compete. This is a competition where only the fittest would survive. We have to stop placing all our hopes in the hands of people who do not give a shit. Why should they anyway – it is not their kids who are going to the sekolah kebangsaan, it is ours!

What do we do when we cannot depend on those people who are supposed to look out for our benefit? We look out for ourselves.

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So start educating ourselves. Educate our children. Stop complaining and start spending time with your children. Teach them. Help them improve their English. Improve yours as well.

If we wish to see any changes in our future and the future of our country, we have to start now.

You never know, your child could turn out to be the one who will develop a new education system for the betterment of Malaysia.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

         ― Nelson Mandela

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2 thoughts on “Are You Speeking Engrish?”

  1. That’s a nice view of it… It’s my wish for our country too. But I fear the floodgates have opened, what with the current crop of politicians showing us their academic prowess. You take care.
    -ST

    Liked by 1 person

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