Back To School


“23,000 English language teachers to undergo training to improve efficiency.”

So screams the Sun newspaper headline dated 28 January, 2015.

Ok, so fine, they want them to go through all these training so that the teachers can be on par with their peers in England. Which is fine and dandy. But, they are forgetting that the process takes place way before the teachers step into the profession as English teachers.

It starts from school and all the way up to the university level.

I recall when I was in school, I was laughed at, or joked about because I wanted to “speak London”. I was reading English dictionary and was comfortable being the only Malay student who became the first speaker in the school debate team. But I didnt care. I wanted to make sure I was ahead of everyone else.

Fast forward to what I do now for a living which is training the corporate world and fresh graduates entering to the world of work, one of the main challenges being a Malay is having to build up that self confidence. Never mind that the English proficiency in writing or speaking left much to be desired, but the lack of self confidence is really in a critical state.

We had participants turned blue when asked to stand in front of the class and speak about themselves. One session had us having to help one participant who was hyperventilating and almost collapse. All I asked was for a 3 minute introduction of herself.

Anwyays, coming back to this initiative of having the English teachers be retrained for efficiency, maybe what else could be done is to ensure that each classroom and each session is safe environment for students to make as many mistake as they can and learn from it without having to be laughed at by their peers.

This is a good learning culture – safe environment. The culture should then be carry forward to the real world. The culture of asking questions without being told to shut up.

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