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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mixed reaction to English in pre-schools

There is mixed reaction to the Education Minister’s proposal to use English in pre-schools.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan said although the Government’s aim to introduce English for pre-schoolers was noble, it could not be implemented at the moment.

“We are definitely not ready for a big step like this as many pre-school teachers do not have proper paper qualifications and there are also no special guidelines or regulations when it comes to hiring these teachers.

“Even primary and secondary schools are finding it hard to get competent English-speaking teachers, what more with pre-schools,” he told The Star.

He was commenting on Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s proposal that pre-schoolers use 50% of the time for lessons to interact in English.

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) president Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam also supported the suggestion but said that the Government should provide seminars and courses before implementing it.

Dr Ganakumaran added that pre-school lessons were not exam-orientated and as such this would enable them to experiment with the language such as learning through songs and nursery rhymes.

“Many pre-school teachers do not even have SPM qualifications and this needs to be addressed before introducing English into their lessons,” he said.

On the other hand, Malaysian Association of Kindergartens president Jayawathi Perera felt that the suggestion was a good move.

“Teachers should look at it as a challenge to improve themselves. Pre-school courses should be made compulsory for teachers to improve the general teaching standards,” she said.

Adding that on top of paper qualifications, pre-school teachers should also be passionate about children.

She explained that those who start kindergartens should hire competent teachers and not just look for monetary gains.

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