Friday, May 27, 2011

Of "Rojak English" ...

Malaysian Insider's "Wary of flip-flop tag, Cabinet dithers over English" worth a second look. Shall we?

MI reported that "The Najib administration has not decided on switching back to English for Science and Mathematics (PPSMI) because several Cabinet ministers feel any change would be another embarrassing flip-flop."Now, enlighten me. How many of these "several" cabinet ministers are new? Isn't Najib's cabinet an extension of Pak Lah's outfit? That means, it's the same old guys with maybe, minor re-branding. Thus, what embarrassment are they mentioning about? If Pak Lah's cabinet is a flip-flop organisation, then these same clowns are still flip-flopping on PPSMI.

Look at the whole scenario from another context. The common point is English. Whilst the government is flip flopping on PPSMI, did you guys notice the various statements made by both Muhyiddein and Najib on English teachers? In part, Muhyiddein announced it would hire 10,000 teachers to teach English in local schools and Najib got a promise from the US of A to send peace corps volunteers to teach the language (English) in the country.

Basically both Najib and Muhyiddin touch on the common subject of increasing the number of English teachers. Yet in the same vein, both Najib and Muhyiddin is taking different routes to the issue. Muhyiddin is looking to New Zealand and Australia as base for those selected few who will be teaching English is schools. Najib, on the other hand, will be getting US peace corps to teach English in rural schools.

Now, this is where number one and number two is seen to be same but different. Yes, both looks to oversea nation to generate English teachers BUT Muhyiddin prefers to train our own local population English, Najib prefers to outsource to US of A to send the teachers. Not only that, Najib should know by now that the peace corps is an American volunteer programme that aims to provide technical assistance, helping foreigners understand US culture and helping Americans understand the cultures of other countries.

The question is - is the peace corps programme beneficial to us? These peace corps volunteers are not here on long term duration. They are here for maybe one or two years before leaving for home. How effective can one be to teach English in a space of 2 years? And my biggest concern is - are we using British English or are we using US English? Or is 1MPM6 Najib saying that we are rojak English? Will we be spelling favor or favour? Will we be pronouncing mountain or mount'n? If we are already half lost with the local English, where will we be with a mix of British, US, local English?

Another big concern is the clash of culture between the east and the west. Najib said that these peace corps will be sent to rural areas. I dread to think of the worst but I do not want to end up saying " I told you so". Remember the Penans? If a strong local influence can "pursuade" findings, then just imagine what a powerful government like "big brother" can do if their volunteers end up "deflowering " our students? Not urban students where the elites and the rich are concentrated but rural areas where our poors and simple-minded are massing.

As an example is the Vietnam experience. Due to high demand to learn English, many US of A young folks flocked to Ho Chi Minh city making a living as "English tutors". At nights, you can see them in the sidewalk coffee shops, making noises and disturbing the peace. Just ask those Vietnamese if they like it or not. On one occassion, I saw the coffee shop owner closing the blinds of her shop to rid the so-called English tutors only to open it back after they have left the scene!

As it is, not only the cabinet is flip-flopping the idea of PPSMI but at the same time do not even know the difference between British English and US English! And yet we are wondering out loud on the quality of our students! Well, maybe 1MPM6 Najib is aiming to introduce Rojak English to the world... and we have not even touch the weird English slang of internet yet....

Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...

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