Use theatre to promote use of English

Mansor Puteh

19 Mar 2009, 8:27 am

Updated 12 years ago


Cunning and confusing. These are the descriptions I can give to describe those supporting the use of English for mathematics and science in the primary schools.

From what many can see, it is clearly evident that the use of Malay has become less stressed, even by the Malays who now speak in the language in pidgin style.

The most glaring fact is in the statistics. Statistics don’t lie. Look at the readership of Malay language papers compared to the English language ones and we can see how over the last six years, the readership of Malay newspapers and other similar publications have gone down.

Utusan Zaman has become extinct; it was saved only with the intervention of arts, culture and heritage ministry which wanted the paper to be continued to be published, but only as a supplement for the romanised Utusan Malaysia.

I was shocked, but not surprised, to hear comments made by some of the top scorers in the STPM examination who spoke either in Malay or English at the same time. How confusing.

On the contrary, I find it quite amazing how those who are not good in mathematics and science are the ones who could speak and write in English and even Malay, better than those who are good in the two subjects.

It is not amusing with what has had happened to the Malay language. It is the national language, no less. Yet, the stress on it is now less pronounced.

If this is allowed to continue, surely there will be people amongst the Malays and non-Malays who will start to demand the use of English for other subjects, until it will come to the point that even Sastera Melayu is taught in English.

It is not about not wanting to study English; it is more about wanting to stop the rot in Malay amongst our students.

Most students nowadays do not write or speak in the language that well, including the Malay ones. Just look at those who appear on the entertainment and other talk show programmes on television and radio. One can see how poor their command of the language is.

So if the government wants to encourage the Malays as well as non-Malay students to learn Bahasa Malaysia so they can speak and write it well, then wouldn’t it be also prudent to have them study it mathematics and science in BM too?

The problem with the use of mathematics and science for the study of English is that not only that is it flawed, but also strange.

Not many students have much passion for these two subjects anyway. No wonder many drop out of the science classes to go to the arts stream and that is where they get to learn English better, by using it all the time.

The English in the old days got the locals to study English so they could use it in their everyday life. They encouraged the schools and colleges to get students to take part in the production of stage plays.

This is where they use English and learn how to pronounce words and sentences well and expressively, too.

So it is no wonder to anyone how those who are active in English language theater in the city and country are the ones who can speak in this language the best compared to those who do not.

So if the government or ministry of education wants to encourage Malaysian students in the primary schools to study English or even Malay so that they can speak in these languages better, they should have courses in theater so the students can learn to use these languages and properly too.