TO expose schoolchildren to English in more spontaneous ways, it is necessary to create an environment where they can pick up the language through communicative activities that appeal to the young. This will augment the formal classroom learning where the oft-lamented problems are inadequate exposure time and poor teaching skills.
For the more affluent children and better schools the exposure to good English is not an issue. The English language proficiency and teaching skills of teachers are not in question. These children can also afford extra tuition after school hours and their homes have ample materials to encourage them to read, write and speak in English. Family and peer interaction in English is good. All this will augment the classroom English Language Teaching and Learning (ELT) creating the “total immersion” environment necessary for successful language acquisition.
There are many individuals and groups who are doing work on the ground to supplement the work done by schools, the NST reading programme being a long-standing one. What better way to motivate schoolchildren than through interactive paired and group work where they get immediate feedback.
The Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason (PCORE) has come up with the English Language Integration Camp to expose selected Year Five students to English through fun activities during the weekend. For just three hours on either Saturday or Sunday, the underprivileged students from the national and national type primary schools are given exposure to English under the guidance of a graduate facilitator who will conduct these interactive and communicative sessions.
Besides helping to supplement the English language curriculum and syllabus painstakingly prepared by the Education Ministry and translated into lesson plans and classroom activities by the teachers, the weekend camps will assist parents in providing the extra immersion time in English which some can ill afford. It will provide the perfect opportunity for bonding among the students from different schools and ethnic backgrounds which will directly or indirectly foster national integration among young Malaysians.
PCORE are delighted that the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development in particular the LPPKN, are in full support of our proposal and applaud their officers for being receptive to new ideas.
We wonder why the ministry that is directly responsible for language education has not been forthcoming after our letters of application were sent to the minister and director general of education.
Datin Halimah Mohd Said
Association of Voices of Peace, Conscience and Reason