Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Poor Command of English

Today’s The Sun has this as its headline on its front page: In ENGLISH please”. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad bemoaned that local graduates (he was actually referring to the Malay graduates!) are often unable to get jobs due to their poor command of the language. Do you mean to say that he only became aware of it now? Stupid man!
We should not be surprised or shocked if Malaysians don’t speak and/or write English well. Our English as it is spoken or written is seriously flawed. The education system in Malaysia is a national joke. That includes the teaching of English. In nearly all of our schools, we have teachers who themselves are inept in the English language, whether written or verbal! Don’t take my word for it but Second Education Minister Idris Jusoh himself said on September 10, 2013 that two-thirds of English language teachers in the country were “incapable” or “unfit” to teach the subject in schools (The Star, September 12, 2013, p 05).
So we have an English language crisis. Most of the time when Malaysians speak, the communication comes across as painfully awkward and floundering. It would seem that we do not have the capacity to speak English correctly.
Even Toastmasters meetings are infected by poor English. It is pretty common to hear words and arrangements of words that are carelessly and clumsily spoken. And worse, members don’t even try to “repair their broken English”! Language evaluators: It is important that you faithfully continue to uphold the correct use of English!
Let me ask everyone a question. How many of us make an honest effort to improve our English on a daily basis? There is no need to answer because I already know! It was a rhetorical question!
On Tuesday, I was at the Taman Indrahana Toastmasters meeting. Speeches were not too great but the evaluations were superb. It was good that we started on time but our finishing was poor – as usual! I would score this meeting a 6.5 over 10.


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