Longer language classes for pupils

By Roy See Wei Zhi, New Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR: In an effort to strengthen their command of English and Bahasa Malaysia, primary pupils in vernacular schools will receive extra periods for both subjects from next year.

The period for English lessons will be extended from 60 minutes a week to 150 minutes. Bahasa Malaysia will be taught for more than 300 minutes a week.

In national primary schools, the teaching of Bahasa Malaysia will be extended to 330 minutes a week from 240 minutes.

The move is being initiated under the Upholding the Malay Language, Strengthening Command of English policy, or MBMMBI.

Schools will have to provide a more conducive environment for children to learn the two languages, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong yesterday.

He said a survey was conducted among 32 vernacular schools nationwide in the form of a competition to gauge the level of proficiency in the two languages.

“Through the survey’s report, we found that there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially in the learning of the two languages by primary schoolchildren.”

Wee said of the 32 vernacular schools surveyed, primary pupils in Selangor were better in Bahasa Malaysia than English on average, with 49 per cent of them scoring well in Bahasa listening tests compared with 25 per cent for English.

However, the pupils did better in English vocabulary and grammar tests compared with Bahasa Malaysia.

The survey also doubled as a competition to see who among all pupils in the 32 schools had the best command in both languages.

It involved Year One to Five pupils who were evaluated in their own groups.

Yip Ren Wei of SJK(C) Puay Chai 2 scored the highest in the Year One category.

Joey Chew Lue Bei of SJK(C) Sungai Buloh emerged as the Year Two champion and the Year Three winner was Marcus Wong Ke Lun, also from SJK(C) Puay Chai 2.

The upper primary champions were Gan Chern Xin of SJK(C) Desa Jaya (Year Four) and Hong Kar Sern of SJK(C) Tun Tan Cheng Lock (Year Five).

All five pupils received a trophy, certificate and RM500 each.

First and second runners-up for each year also received a trophy, a certificate and RM300 and RM100, respectively.

There were five special awards for students in each year who did not achieve podium scores. They each received a trophy, certificate and RM50.

There were also 12 consolation prize winners for each year. They were each given a trophy, certificate and RM20. Wee presented the prizes to the pupils.