Last week i went to schools supervising my students doing their teaching practicum. There were seven of them all ladies. I managed to reflect on what they commented about teaching English and the challenges they went through. The common observation was that students wanted the teachers to use Malay while teaching English in English lessons.
Wow???I got the observation before when i went to Remove Classes(By the way the Remove Classes are still around ensuring a smooth transition from vernacular primary schools to non vernacular secondary schools) I remembered the teacher at the remove class saying : Girls "" Ini cherek=kettle""""Ini water=air" "Ini sejuk=cold""Ini panas = hot" I asked why ???She replied because if she did not use Malay the students would not be able to understand. They demanded that the teacher used the mother tongue (in this case Malay).
Thus this brings us to the pertinent question" Should the mother tongue be used or avoided in teaching English as a Second Language? And how frequent should you use it to ensure students understand what you are talking about? Sometimes?Half the time?frequently?Most of the time? And of course this phenomena always happened in the class where students are very low achievers and ill disciplined. There are of course many methods in second language teaching which include the Grammar Translation Approach.This approach was historically used in teaching Greek and Latin and later modern languages.
So what philosophy do we use? Experienced teachers told me that if they did not engage the help of the mother tongue well the lesson would involve a lot more time; the students were indifferent and psychologically were not there. Equally in teaching subjects such as Science the students will say "Tak Faham lah""Cik gu boleh pakai Bahasa Malaysia"(Translated "I do not understand" "Can you use Bahasa Malaysia")
At the university too a lecturer mentioned that in Engineering classes the students looked blank when explaining the terms in Engineering in English. Socio-economic status also relates to language proficiency.The former explains values and upbringing.My student also remarked the class she was teaching would be very dull and unresponsive if the students could not interpret what she was teaching.
And of course it was vey difficult to motivate them to participate in class.How did i learnt English? Wow we have to go back in memory lane. I remembered we learnt by doing. The teacher said "Stand up" (and she asked us to stand up after she demonstrated the action. So "sit down and thus we sat down" _) And i remembered using the series " A Man and a Pen"etc. Subject experts stated that we can use the mother tongue up to a certain extent on a restrictive basis to explain complex linguistic issues . Another teacher remarked it is advisabble to use the target language instead of the mother tongue so that the students have full initiative in learning the new language and is less dependent on the old.
But learning new things can be very challenging. When we learn new subjects or methods the old learning seeks to interfere with the rules of the new and vice versa. Thus my daughter Zuraidah was so capable of speaking English in Los Angeles to come back to Malaysia showing off her praiseworthy english but after two years started spelling according to BM 's spelling .Thats where new learnings attacked the old learnings acquired.
What do we do here? Teachers suggested that we should explore the different methods of teaching so that it is more creative and meaningful because learners learn in different modes and styles. Diversified and differentiated teaching is the slogan to effective teaching of second language. This would help overcome the "Use the mother tongue "approach and uphold "We use English only approach "plus some interesting teaching techniques. Still we have diehards who still believe we should use the mother tongue as a viable teaching aid. One rematked "Well students dont understand and they were frustrated and this leads to your frustration" "And we need students to understand because it reflects on us as the teachers' which also means Teaching equals learning.
I guess translation is needed here to help clarify terms and glossaries and to expediate teaching. So what is our verdict? Use MT (mother tongue or Not?) The answer very much depends on the socio cultural context of the learners one have whether low IQ or not, from high SES or not, proficiency in two languages or not as well as the teacher variables such as teacher confidence and self efficacy and knowledge on teaching techniques.
- Prof Puan Sri Dr rohaty
- Hi. I am Professor Puan Sri Dr. Rohaty Mohd Majzub. Currently I am a Professor in Faculty of Education.I love to interact with everyone and learn something new. I believe in meeting a new friend everyday.However at times i am disheartened when other bloggers used my website to advertise their websites on google or abuse my website by changing the content of my articles.This is an unprofessional act. I hope this will stop. Thanks to those who participate in this website.I really appreciate your time and ideas.You are invited to visit my other websites: http://rohaty.edu.my http://rohaty-school-readiness.com http://rohaty.keciciran.edu.my
SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDIL FITRI & SALAM TO ALL
I am looking forward to share my personal and professional knowledge and experiences related to social-educational issues and challenges locally and internationally. I believe that much can be generated and learn cross culturally deriving from the varied diversity found in the education systems. Thus i welcome any thoughts, ideas, opinion and feedback on any educational issue which can contribute to both understanding theories and building educational implications. Issues can be very controversial but we have to address them open mindedly and creatively.My present interests are in child development, adolescent psychology,educational governance and policies and the science and art of teaching and research.Once again you are most welcome!!!!