Studying in English doesn’t make one less patriotic, says Dr M

(Bernama) – PETALING JAYA, Feb 28 — Mastering the English language will not make one less patriotic as English is currently the language of knowledge, says former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“This is the reality that we have to face if we want to understand Science and Mathematics for the betterment of our lives, and to build the nation towards becoming a developed nation, we have to understand foreign languages.

“If today, we decide to learn Science and Mathematics in English, it does not mean we are less patriotic,” he said in his keynote address at the Biotechnology Forum 2011 titled, “Past Wisdom For Future Direction”, at a hotel in Subang Jaya, near here, today.

“Both Science and Mathematics are not static subjects but expanded through time with numerous research and inventions, producing hundreds of research papers which are all in English.

 “Without the ability to translate all this new knowledge, the Malays will be left behind in some of the most important fields,” Dr Mahathir said.

He said those who understood the subjects and could translate them would not be interested to be translators their entire life, adding science would still progress after their deaths and newer works would need translation.

“Mastering English is very important, and those who don’t understand English would lose out in terms of new scientific findings.”

Dr Mahathir felt that a language of a people was only learned by foreigners if the former had progressed and were known for their knowledge and research, citing the Europeans in the 15th century having to learn Arabic as the Muslim civilisation then was vast and well respected.

Last year, the government announced that it would revert to the teaching of the two subjects in the Malay language in national schools and the students’ mother tongue (Mandarin or Tamil) in national-type Chinese and Tamil schools from 2011 following the abolishment of the policy of teaching and learning Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI).

The government also then announced the strategy of upholding the Malay language and strengthening the command of English in schools. — Bernama