Wednesday, 10 September 2008
It's the “sounds correct, sounds wrong” method .
Finally someone comes up with a name for the way that I believe many of us learned and mastered (sort of, at least) our English.
Just like any other languages, mastery comes from usage. Practice, after all, makes perfect.
I was fortunate to have been born in a family of school teachers and back in the early 1970’s, it seems that the majority (maybe, all) of the text books were in English and there is no other way to understand all the gooblegegook printed inside than to learn the language.
Developing an early love for books came quite easy for me as my grandparents (who raised me) allowed me a free rein on the many available stocks courtesy of my two aunties and one uncle who were school teachers.
There were certainly a whole lot of wonderful things within the many books, and my favorites are those on geography and history, for the simple reason that they have pictures to accompany the text.
I did not start my lessons in English by learning grammar. That comes later when I attended formal primary and secondary school, but even without it, I managed fine.
Today, our education is yet again at another crossroad: should or should we not continue teaching Math and Science in English.
To borrow a quote from a native English speaker Frank Bruno: “there are pros and cons for, and there are pros and cons against”. This is a no-brainer really, just as it is a no-brainer that if we revert back to status quo, what’s left is only Bahasa Inggeris to learn English.
Learning a subject is never an easy thing: I took of Japanese some time ago but with little in opportunities to practice the language, I’m stuck at Arigato Gozaimashu and Sayonara: just the basics and nothing more.
It would be a brave thing to allow our next generation stuck with a single avenue to use the global language in school.
The argument of rural against urban schools does not hold much water as I have seen the so-called qualities of the urban English and they are just as bad. They do get away with chatter box English though, picking up from here and there, especially the idiot box; something which does not pass muster when it comes to the actual usage in business and work.
Even as the crescendo of arguments for and against becomes louder, along comes a study by UPSI (At least it wasn’t by Universiti Tun Hussein Onn!) which found “the majority of students still find it hard to follow Mathematics and Science lessons in English”.
Probably true, as I found it difficult to learn the two subjects even in Bahasa Melayu (or is it Bahasa Malaysia?).
The truth is that these two subjects are among the toughest notwithstanding any language they are being taught in.
If not the two subjects, which ones then? Geography and history, perhaps? The text heavy based learning required from both subjects would make it an even more unlikely route to adopt.
In the end, Bahasa Inggeris would be “it”.
Back to square one.