21 August 2007

English Teachers: We need to boost their numbers


I REFER to the letter by A.U. of Kuala Lumpur ("Increase English content in schools" — NST, Aug 15). While agreeing with A.U. about the resolution by the Tanjung Malim Umno division to revert to English in schools, I believe the basic necessity is being ignored where teaching and learning of the language is concerned.

In the first place, are there enough qualified English teachers?

The answer is no. Though by ratio it might seem compatible, in reality we need more English teachers.

Five lessons per week, consisting of 40 minutes each, is not enough to teach all the components of the English language syllabus for secondary schools.

A secondary school English teacher has to teach literature, comprehension, composition, summary, grammar and conduct the school-based oral within a limited time.
Furthermore, these teachers must teach up to 25 to 30 lessons, equivalent to five or six classes per week.

Imagine the workload a teacher has to endure when it is time to mark books. Marking an essay, comprehension and summary is not an easy task for any teacher. It takes hours and alertness to be fair to students.

To top it off, English teachers must conduct the school-based oral at least twice a year and conduct in-house training for English, math and science students.

To be rational, the Education Ministry must increase the number of qualified English teachers and in tandem increase the number of contact hours for teaching and learning English.

At the same time, English teachers should not be burdened with too many classes. They should be asked to teach 15 to 20 hours of English while given other non-marking subjects. Oral examinations should be reviewed and reverted to the old format.

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