The journal entitle is Exploring English Language Learning and Teaching in Malaysia. The journal was written by Normazidah Che Musa, Koo Yew Lie and Hazita Azman from School of Language Studies and Linguistic, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The purposed of this paper is to identify the factors that contribute to low or limited English literacy achievement among Malaysian learners. The research was discussed about the level of English mastering among learners in Malaysia. Generally, the aim of this study is to identify and establish the key issues and common discourse with regards to the teaching of English in Malaysian classrooms. The researcher conduct the study based on a larger study that reviews and synthesizes research studies which investigate the problems and practice of teaching and learning English in Malaysia. In the other words, the researcher use library research as a method in their study. researchers use qualitative approach by combines elements of content analysis and thematic analysis procedures to systematically review and synthesize research paper that examine English language learning in Malaysia from 2000 to 2011. In this case, researcher needs to focus reading and re-reading to get the accurate data.
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In the study, the researchers were presented the discussion in two parts. The first part was discussed research studies that examine language learning as autonomous skills while in the second part was discussed research studies that suggest language learning as ways of being and ways of doing. In the first part, according to research on English language learning in Malaysian schools, the finding was shows that there is a strong influence of the Bahasa Malaysia over the learning of English. Based on other studies, they were found that interference effect of Bahasa Malaysia as an important inhibiting factor in the acquisition of English literacy among form one students. According to the study that examines error by students in rural school, researcher found that the learners have difficulties in using correct English grammar in their writing. Besides, in the other study that examine the morphological and syntactical differences between the Bahasa Malaysia and English, she was found that the linguistic differences are shown to be one of the major factors influencing students inability to successfully acquire English literacy. The result of the study was show that the most obvious weakness of students’ language ability laid in the area of grammar particularly in the aspect of morphology and syntax. Generally, the researcher found that majority of students has common grammatical errors in their writings. This means students have not yet mastered basic grammatical structures in learning English language. However, other studies were shown students that use Bahasa Malaysia to generate ideas among limited proficiency English learners help the students to produce better quality essays in terms of overall score, content, language and organization. The other researcher also claims that the teachers tend to concentrate on the teaching of grammar and neglect the communicative aspects of language learning in their teaching. While in higher education, in the previous study, researchers were found that majority students have limited vocabulary knowledge and weak in communication skill. This is because, some of respondents were claimed that the use of English is only limited to certain situations such that presentation session or written assignment in English and the rest they use Malay language. Overall in the first part, we can see from researcher’s findings, majority of students have limited English proficiency lead by several factors such that students depend on the teachers as authorities, lack of support to use English in the home environment and the community and they tend to depend on translation and dictionary use to find meanings. Students also claims that they unwillingness and lack of motivation to learn English as they do not see the immediate need to use the language.
Based on study in the second part, the researcher in the previous study was suggest that understanding learners’ struggles in learning the English language involves not just their difficulties in the classroom but also an awareness of how sociocultural meanings are linked in complicated ways to soiocultural identities. Besides that, the researcher also views that the challenge facing the teaching of English literacy in Malaysia lies in making our classroom relevant to the current literacy needs. The researcher in other study was found that current formulation of academic literacies in our educational environment that reflect a heavy emphasis on the commodity value of literacy is disadvantageous to our learners. Moreover, students are evaluated based on their performance and ability to obtain good grade in the examination or display good writing skills. While the practice of evaluating students based on their skills and competencies silence learners; voices, making them feel alienated and separated from meaningful language use. Other researcher was said that the new language classroom should encompass learning environment which encourage critical thinking, foster innovative culture and acknowledge diversity in global space. In this paper also, researcher state some suggestions for further research such as more studies are needed to examine learner’s ways of using different linguistic repertoire when they are outside of the classroom. Studies also need to find ways to situate English language among the available linguistics codes our learners have. Besides, the use of quantitative method such as survey questions could limit the critical areas that can be examined by qualitative case study researches. This journal also suggest that in order to look at English literacy learning as inclusive and relevant to the present needs, more studies that employ qualitative research design are needed to provide empirical evidence of localized, contextualized use of the language. Lastly, the paper was proposed changes in the theorizing of English literacy learning in Malaysia classroom which is literacy as a social practice should be the overarching paradigm that includes in it the practice of literacy as autonomous skills. Together they would pedagogically position the learning of reading and writing skill as embedded into the learning as participating in meaningful interactions.
In my opinion, the level of mastering English languages among students in Malaysia are seems quite low. As we know, students have learned English language for many years in school and they are still weak in mastering English after finish the school. What are the mistakes? Actually in this case we cannot blame on students by judging based on their IQ or ability. From in-depth view that explore by researchers, we can see that majority of students learn English language in school in order to get pass in their examination. So, that is why they are still low achievement in English language and unable to speak fluently or communicate well in English. They are likely getting nothing to improve their skill in English even they have through after 11 years in school. As we know, majority of students were set in their mind that English language is a quiet difficult subject to learn. Sometimes, their perception toward English language is influence on their attitudes in learning English. Additionally, they have lack support in using English language especially from families, friends or teacher itself. Consequently, they become unmotivated to learn English better. Especially in rural area, students do not really exposed about the important of using English. Commonly, the students come from low socioeconomic status surely do not take serious in English language achievement. For them, as well as they pass in their exam is enough good. Besides, we need focus on teachers’ ability also because some of teachers have difficulties to use English in the classroom. Usually, teachers are reluctant to use English because they lack confidence in their ability to use English and fear of making mistakes in their pronunciation. In addition, they worrying that students might not understand if they speak in English and that is why they use national language in English teaching. Hamidah et al. (2005) points out, the ability to use language effectively in teaching will not only help students understand the subject better but will also lead to many other positive traits such as higher interest and motivation. Therefore, we need to do something that can improve the English achievement among students.
In my suggestion, firstly teachers itself should improve their skill in English whether in communication or grammatical aspect. Teacher should sufficiently proficient in English grammatically so that students can master English language better. According to Andrews (2005:74), “a teacher with a rich knowledge of grammatical constructions will be in a better position to help young writers”. As we can see, some of teachers have little awareness of grammatical in English. Usually they use practice and drill as a method in English teaching so that the students are familiar with the paper examination questions without take serious in grammatical rules whether correct or not. Sometimes, teachers unable to show appropriate understanding of grammatical concepts and correct students’ errors in the classroom. As we can see as usual, English teachers act as language models for students. Definitely, students will follow or apply anything that teacher taught. Consequently, students may lack fluency and accuracy in English. According to Andrews (2005), a teacher with a good grasp of grammatical construction will be in a better position to help students. So, the teacher should take some initiative like attend more training programme to rebuild or renew their skill of English teaching. At the same time teacher can helps students improving their learning skill in English too. For example, the government and NGO department was launching the programme like Project to Improve English in Rural Schools (Piers) that can help them improving the quality of English. The managing director of Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad, Lee Ming Foo, said, “The project has to date achieved positive results that are tangible and measurable, helping both teachers and students become more adept in using the English language. The other programme is like English Enrichment Training Program-me that purposed to equip teacher with new skills to teach English more effectively. This programme was focus on providing teachers with the right skills to enable them to enrich their students’ learning experiences and provide them with the opportunity to master the language. By attending these programme likely, teacher should appreciate this opportunities in order to be effective in teaching.
For students also should get training that can improve their English skill. As we know, some of learners are able to produce a good writing but sadly them unable to communicate well in English. Majority of them become nervous to speak in front of people. This situation really happens that I can see in my class where as students that have excellent result in English but failed in communication skills. They are actually able to speak well in English but need to improve their skill better. So, students also need to attend programme or class that can improve their English achievement that organize by school or other part. Besides, parents should give support and encourage their child to develop the skill in English. They also should create English environment at home like try to speak in English with the child and involve in helping them to complete their English tasks. For the parents who are low educated, it is does not mean that they can do nothing to improve their child’s achievement. Sometimes, parental support is a big key to academic success of students.
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Overall, this research gives many benefits especially to future English teacher. This view enable to teacher make more preparations before teach in the classroom. As we can see, the researchers try to explore why Malaysian students have limited English literacy achievement even after going through many years of learning English in school. From that, we know about the mistakes or weakness of students in learning English based on their writing. So, it becomes easier to teacher examine what they need to do or not in teaching and learning process in the classroom. Besides that, teacher can identify on which part student master or weak so that teacher can plan their lesson carefully based on students needed.
In conclusion, from all researchers’ findings, we can say that the poor literacy in English among learner in Malaysia is a strong influence of the Bahasa Malaysia in learning English language. In this paper, the researcher also states a language curriculum that advances on inclusive, learning-by-doing experiences would encourage a more meaningful learning. Besides, an improved English language curriculum that operates on reflective learning pedagogy would encourage learners to become independent and critical learners. In addition, future research needs to continue to investigate the pedagogical practices of teaching English in this country and at the same time, to evaluate and check the development of teacher’s knowledge in the domain as they are significant agents that translate policy into action. So, overall it can be conclude that both teachers and students should work hard in improving English achievement. In the other word, it is important for teacher make changes in order to improve English learning among students in Malaysia.
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