An Average C for English?
I'm all good for abolishing English usage as teaching medium for Science and Mathematics subjects in primary and secondary school (to ensure that students understand these subject in a language that they are most convenient with) provided that the proficiency rate of primary and secondary school students in English is good.
But I didn't expect the good to be an average C. I was expecting more than that, at least an average B. We are not progressing better, we are actually progressing worser. And a 5% increment is not satisfying and it's not an achievement. This is not just particularly in Sarawak. In general, this figure represents the whole Malaysian primary school students. I personally think if we don't take rapid and aggressive actions to address this matter, the progress might be slower than we expected.
People can still make fuss about their concern on the effect of English to their mother tongues if the children speak the language, and they will forget their root and indulge themselves in the Western culture. Such perception is extremely narrow and conservative. And I'm done with it.
If I'm Malay and I speak English, will I not be a Malay in the eyes of those people? We are just haunted by our worries. There is no problem of being proficient in more than one language. As a matter of fact, you can speak excellent English and excellent Malay as well. And the same goes to Mandarin, Tamil and other languages.
Being proficient in English has nothing to do with scared of the past, those days when we were colonized by British. Those days, many of us speak good English, even the armies, government servants, teachers and traders. Yet, they were still Malay, or Chinese or Indians. They had strong root eventhough they were assimilated by British. Why can't we do the same today and let ourselves heading backward while we should from a long time ago, move forward?
You can't learn English in a day. You can't expect yourselves to master the language by attending classes in school and yet, not using it. You have to use the language. It has nothing to do with jeopardizing the national language. If there is so, we are the one to be blamed, for not using the languages correctly. I've seen Malays that doesn't have good proficiency in English speak broken Malay (common Malay I would say) by adding up Malay words with English words. And yet, I've seen them listening to English commentators during football matches and read sports news in English, and yet,they understood it completely. If we are able to do that, we aren't we able to do the same with using the language?
My life abroad has challenged my proficiency in English. I'm proud whenever I converse with foreigners, they complimented my English and I told them that I'm Malaysian. I quoted a conversation I had with a German whom I worked with in the laboratory.
"Are you from Malaysia?".
"Yes, I am".
"You really have good command of English for an Asian and I didn't expect that from Asians. So you speak English at home?".
"I don't speak English at home. I speak my mother tongue, Malay with my family and friends, except if I want to badmouth people in a language they don't understand".
"So how did you be so good in English when you don't use them?".
"I am exposed to the language since young when I read books and watch TVs. I use it when I speak to my Chinese and Indian friends, and I think I express myself best in English compared to Malay, but nevertheless I still have strong Malay root".
"Wow. You should be proud of yourself".
I didn't take the credit for myself. The credit goes to us, Malaysians, who has proven that we can stand tall among other nations and we are recognized as Malaysians. We have proven to them that we may be international, but we are still Malaysians that have strong root within us.
And I'm proud to be Malaysian!