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January 29, 2014

Malaysia | Education

Malaysia: Cambridge working with Ministry of Education

Cambridge English Language Assessment is working with the Ministry of Education in Malaysia to carry out an in-depth study of the learning, teaching and assessment of English in Malaysian schools.

The large-scale project will focus on children and teachers in schools from pre-school to pre-university.

Hanan Khalifa, Head of Research and International Development and Martin Robinson, Assistant Director Assessment from Cambridge recently met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in London to brief him on the progress to date of the project, entitled "The Cambridge Baseline Project: measuring English language standards and establishing an evidence-based baseline for Malaysian schools."

The study is part of a programme which aims to ensure every child is proficient in Bahasa Malaysia and English and is endorsed by the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013–2025.

Deputy Director-General of Education (Policy and Development, MOE), Datuk Amin Senin, said Cambridge English was commissioned to undertake the study in May last year. Amin said the study will measure the English language proficiency of students and the teaching abilities and practices in schools.

The study will review the current national curricula, learning materials, examinations and teaching practices, as well as testing the language levels of students and teachers at the end of pre-school, end of primary school (Year 6), end of lower secondary (Form 3), end of upper secondary (Form 5) and end of Form 6.

The findings from the study will provide the Ministry of Education with baseline data that can be used to set realistic and achievable targets for future learning. Recommendations are expected to be submitted to the government in March 2014.

Martin Robinson commented “Malaysia is embarking upon a visionary education reform programme to ensure that every child will be proficient in Bahasa Malaysia as the national language of unity and in English as the international language of communication. We are very impressed by the rigorous approach the Ministry of Education is taking and it is especially commendable that the Ministry is employing such a ground-breaking, evidence-based approach to providing solutions to the challenges it faces. By undertaking such a comprehensive review of the whole English language education system, Cambridge English Language Assessment is helping Malaysia turn the visions and aspirations of the Education Blueprint into realistic and achievable targets. The Cambridge Baseline Project is the first step in helping Malaysia deliver lasting, genuine educational reform”.

Read the original post on Cambridge English Language Assessment.

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January 24, 2014

Malaysia | Teacher Development

Malaysia: 1,022 teachers take Cambridge Placement Test

Malaysia's Daily Express reports on the country's latest measure to improve the standards of English language education.

A total of 1,022 English teachers are now undergoing the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT) in their respective districts in Sabah.

Education Director Datuk Jame Alip (pic) said on Wednesday the course is aimed to improve their English skills and teaching pedagogy methods.

"They are being trained by the British Council in their respective districts," he said.

CPT is a course introduced by the Education Ministry with the collaboration with the British Council in a bid to boost the implementation of the Education Blueprint.

Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in June last year announced that 9,000 teachers will be selected for the CPT course nationwide.

A special entity called Education Implementation and Performance unit (Padu) has been set up to monitor and ensure the success of this initiative.

Read the full article from the Daily Express.

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October 28, 2013


Malaysia's English language crisis

A shortage of competent English language teachers and a looming deadline that will affect all school-leaving students are creating a sense of crisis in Malaysia's education system.

In Perak on the northern Peninsular Malaysia, an English teacher uses textbooks meant for seven-year-olds to teach her Form One class of students, mostly aged 13.

"When I first taught them, they could not even tell the difference between 'when' and 'what'," the teacher, who wants to be known only as Yee, told The Straits Times recently.

"I had to put my planned lessons aside and start with the basics."

It is the type of story many English teachers in Malaysia share, but are reluctant to speak openly about because they worry about being sanctioned by the education ministry.

And so, when the ministry recently announced that from 2016 onwards, students in Form Five - the equivalent of a GCE O-level class in Singapore - must pass English before they can obtain their school-leaving certificates, it set tongues wagging.

After all, last year, almost a quarter of 470,000 Form Five students failed English, and only 16 per cent of them scored highly in the language.

"Without the school-leaving certificates, the students cannot further their studies or get jobs," said Lok Yim Pheng, secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession. "Is their future being killed?"

Part of the problem, educators say, is that there are not enough qualified English teachers. Recently, the education ministry revealed that 70 per cent of the country's 70,000 English teachers failed a competency test to teach the language.

The ministry is now working overtime to re-train thousands of English teachers around the country to try and meet the 2016 deadline.

"It is an ambitious goal, but we cannot tolerate students not being able to communicate in English any more," Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, head of a new agency within the ministry, told The Straits Times in a recent interview.

"Something needs to be done."

In Malaysia, English is a |compulsory subject from Primary One to Form Five. Despite that, many school-leavers, especially in rural areas, cannot converse or write fluently in English.

It was not always this way.

Read the full article from The Nation.

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October 22, 2013


Malaysia: Furore over bill to train English teachers

teach-English-in-Malaysia.jpgThere is anger in Malaysia over the vast sums being paid to consultants, including McKinsey & Co and British Council, for the training of English teachers.

After the uproar over McKinsey & Co’s RM20 million bill to draw up the National Education Blueprint (NEB), Putrajaya is in the spotlight again for paying three other external consultants a staggering RM270 million to help teachers here improve their English.

Citing details from a recent parliamentary reply, DAP assistant national publicity secretary Zairil Khir Johari said the training programme, stretched out over three years from 2011 to 2013, was meant to train a total of 7,500 teachers from 1,800 schools nationwide at a cumulative cost of RM268.5 million or RM89.5 million each year.

The three handpicked consultant firms - British Council, Brighton Education Grpup and SMR HR Group - are each tasked to provide a total of 360 trainers or “English speaking mentors” over the three-year period, he said.

The firms’ responsibilities are divided geographically, Zairil added, with the British Council slotted to provide mentors for teachers in Labuan, Sabah and Sarawak, while Brighton Education Group will train teachers in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Malacca, Johor and Negeri Sembilan and the SMR HR Group will train teachers in Penang, Perlis, Perak, Kedah and Selangor.

“In other words, close to RM270 million is being spent to hire 360 English mentors. This breaks down to RM250,000 a year for each mentor, or an extravagant sum of almost RM21,000 a month,” the Bukit Bendera MP said in a statement here. - See more at: #sthash.YYFFPqxZ.dpuf

Read the full post on The Malay Mail Online.

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October 14, 2013


Malaysia: Fulbright ETA programme grows bigger

teach-English-in-Malaysia.jpgThe Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme in Malaysia is set to become one of the world’s largest when it expands to 100 volunteers next year.

The successful programme now has 75 volunteers in rural classrooms in Johor, Pahang, Terengganu and Perak.

Expressing support for it, United States Secretary of State John Kerry said English was a global language and speaking it was an advantage.

He said the programme was an opportunity for students to boost their confidence in the language.

“It teaches confidence and changes lives,” he told reporters after meeting with local students and their American ETAs at a hotel here yesterday.

Kerry said the programme was also an enriching experience for American college graduates who volunteered to spend nine months teaching in schools here.

“I really admire these ETAs. Thank you for being part of this remarkable programme,” he told the volunteers.

New York native John Greisler, 24, who is based at SMK Slim in Batang Padang, Perak, said he signed up to continue teaching in Malaysia for another year.

He said his students, who included orang asli from the Semai tribe, were initially very shy but he eventually managed to get them to speak.

Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange executive director James Coffman said the Fulbright ETA programme, which started in Malaysia in 2005 with just 15 volunteers, became a federal programme funded by the US and Malaysian governments after a meeting between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in 2010.

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September 16, 2013

Malaysia | Teacher Development

Malaysia: All about change

malaysia-all-about-change.jpgThis is the latest of many articles in the Malaysian media recently about ongoing and high-profile changes to English language teaching in the country.

The winds of change have blown through various schools in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan over the past two years with the introduction of the British Council’s English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTDP).

Teachers who once found teaching the English language to students a challenge because lessons were teacher-centred, have developed new perceptions and changed their approach so that lessons are student-centred and engaging.

Now, members of the public can read about the teachers’ experiences in The Book of Change, a collection of over 100 short stories written by the project’s mentors and teachers.

The book along with a series of short films on the ELTDP were recently launched by the British Council in Putrajaya.

Read the full article from The Star Online.

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September 13, 2013

Education | Malaysia

Malaysia: English teachers to come from India?

Teach-English-in-MalaysiaThe heated debate continues in Malaysia since a government decision to make English a compulsory must-pass subject for high schoolers by 2016, with the quality of the majority of English language teachers deemed well below the required standard.

PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) demanded to know today if Putrajaya (the federal administrative capital of Malaysia) had already inked a deal to import English teachers from India prior to announcing the National Education Blueprint, noting the short three-year notice the government had given to turn every school English-ready by 2016.

The party’s information chief Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said the decision to turn English into a must-pass subject seemed to come without any semblance of an action plan to address Malaysia’s stark shortage of qualified English teachers.

In a statement here, Tuan Ibrahim pointed out that while announcing its plans to improve English proficiency here, the government had in the same breath admitted that over 70 per cent of the country’s 60,000 English teachers had scored poorly in the English Language Cambridge Placement Test.

“This means at least two-thirds of our English teachers are considered ‘incapable’ or ‘unqualified’ to teach the subject in school,” he said.

“Is this likely to be resolved by 2016? What about the students, especially those in the rural areas, how would they prepare themselves to face a must-pass English examination from now until 2016 with the current quality of our teachers?” he added.

Read the full article from The Malay Mail.

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September 09, 2013

Malaysia | Secondary Level

Malaysia: Spelling the blues over English ruling

Teach-English-in-MalaysiaIn this opinion piece, Leanne Goh looks at the implications of a government decision to make English a mandatory passing subject for Malaysian secondary school pupils.

Our SPM students do best in Bahasa Malaysia and worst in English.

Going by last year’s SPM results, 23% of the candidates failed English and this group risks completing 11 years of schooling without that final paper qualification come 2016 when a pass in the language is made compulsory.

They number more than 105,000 out of the 459,118 candidates who sat for the exam last year.

And to compound the problem, there will be another compulsory pass next year (besides BM) – History. This core subject saw the biggest decline in passes in last year’s SPM – 19.7% failed compared to 16.7% the year before.

So, in the near future, low achieving students have to overcome three “hurdles” to obtain that SPM certificate or join the workforce without paper qualification. And we are talking about potentially a six-figure number.

This puts tremendous pressure on everyone. And no one knows it better that the Education Ministry as the mastermind of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which was launched on Friday.

Read the full article from Malaysia Today.

Read a related piece from The Malaysian Insider on conservative reaction to the decision.

(Editor's note: The Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), or the Malaysian Certificate of Education, is a national examination taken by all fifth-year secondary school students in Malaysia. More from Wikipedia.)

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July 05, 2013

Malaysia | Employment

100 US grads to join 2014 Fulbright programme in Malaysia

Teaching-English-in-MalaysiaA total of 100 young American university graduates will be participating the Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) programme in Malaysia next year.

United States (US) Ambassador to Malaysia Datuk Paul W. Jones said one new state will be added in the 2014 programme but it had yet to be decided by the Malaysian government. Currently, the American teachers are placed in schools in Johor, Terengganu, Pahang and Perak. "This year, 75 young American university graduates are experiencing Malaysian hospitality, food and culture as they help teach English in schools across the states."

"Next year, 100 people will follow in their steps. This rapidly growing programme was extraordinary successful not only for our people to people ties but also for a lot of students who can practice English with the native speakers," Jones told reporters at the 4th of July reception in conjunction with the US Independence Day. He said many students in the participating schools had improved their English language skills and understood the vocabulary and grammar.

The Fulbright ETA programme is an initiative by the Malaysian and US governments to support English language education in Malaysia, which began in 2012.

(Story courtesy of Bernama, the National News Agency of Malaysia.)

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July 02, 2013

Malaysia | Events

Borneo to host 2014 Asia TEFL Conference

Teaching-English-in-MalaysiaThe Borneo Post reports that Malaysia will host the Asia TEFL International Conference for the second time next year. The largest English language teaching event in Asia, it will be held in the city of Kuching, capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak.

Borneo Convention Centre Kuching will have the honour of hosting the Asia TEFL (Teaching English as Foreign Language) 12th International Conference 2014 on Aug 28-30.

This will be the second time it is held in Malaysia and the first in Kuching, said Asia TEFL president Professor Lee Hyo-Woong.

He said Asia TEFL is the largest English language teaching event in Asia and the international conference will focus on providing a regional platform for English teachers and trainers to connect with various English language institutes around Asia.

“The annual event is for English language teachers to meet and discuss ways to promote the use of proper English through present and new methodologies and opportunity to gain knowledge through the workshops and talks,” said Lee at a press conference yesterday.

Read the full story from The Borneo Post.

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June 25, 2013

Malaysia | Teacher Development

Don't be hazy when it comes to English proficiency

Teaching-English-in-MalaysiaColumnist Satiman Jamin writes today in the New Straits Times about the issue of English proficiency among Malaysia's English teachers. The country's education minister was at a small university on Saturday for the launch of "Let's Talk and Let's Go Global", a programme to help raise the English language proficiency of secondary school students.

(Minister) Idris said similar programmes would be conducted by other universities and teachers' training institutes around the country.

However, his acknowledgement that English proficiency among students in schools suffered because of the lack of qualified teachers indicated that something must be done to ensure that the universities roped in to help the schools do not have the same problem.

"As reported in the newspapers recently, our 60,000 English teachers sat for the Cambridge Placement Test (CPT), and the results showed that two-thirds of them did not have the required qualification to teach English," he said.

Read the full article from New Straits Times

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May 29, 2013

Malaysia | Education

Malaysian royalty all for English-medium schools

Teaching-English-in-Malaysia"The New Straits Times reports on royal support in Malaysia for schools that teach through English.

Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, the consort of the sultan of Johor, said yesterday that she would support any Education Ministry plans to set up English-medium schools.

Speaking after opening the 22nd International Conference of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta), where she is the royal patron, she said, "Having an English-medium school will serve as an alternative for parents who want their children to be proficient in English." She cited her own experience when she went to England to study after completing her education at a national-type primary school in Malaysia.

The three-day event was held in the southern city of Johor Baru, just across the Johor Strait from Singapore, and saw the participation of 450 educators from 28 countries. Melta was formed in 1982 to promote the teaching of English in Malaysia.

Melta president Associate Professor Dr S. Ganakumaran said the focus of the event this year was to evaluate the changes in the national education system and help teachers cope with the changes.

Read the full story from the New Straits Times

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About Malaysia

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to ELT News in the Malaysia category. They are listed from newest to oldes.

Kazakhstan is the previous category.

Mongolia is the next category.

Many more can be found by looking through the archives.

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