Language Fetish

“Having said that, I’m not asserting that our students have no capability to pass the IELTS and TOEFL papers. It is just that certain parties do not see this irony. The irony is while they think that they are doing the nation a favour, they are actually lost in obsession and fetishism.”

Been reading the newspaper the past few weeks, there seems to be a conflict between certain parties on the use of the English particularly on the teaching of science and mathematics. On one side we have the government who wants English to be used while on the other side we have generally, two main parties, who each advocate for the use of BM and Mandarin in science and mathematics respectively. This time what the government wants to do is not of concern. What is of my concern is the stand of these two other groups.

I’m not too sure what the fuss is all about but if either of these groups have it their way, we are certainly going to bring our country, especially our children down the drain. I wonder if these people have been through any education at all. As it is, we are not going to achieve much if we are adamant on being obsessed with our identity. What can we gain through the use of BM or Mandarin? Is it because that as Malaysians we have to be proud of our national language that we have to use it? Or because we are Chinese and therefore we have to be proud of our mother tongue that we have to use Mandarin? This is utter rubbish. Why?

Whether we like it or not, today, here, right now, most if not all the language of knowledge is in English. Together with it, there are certainly others, being French, German, Russian or Japanese. Nevertheless as part of the Commonwealth, the English language is one that we should be able to command easily. Go to any university; go through all the courses, visit any library and you will find that easily all the main and latest literatures are all in English. There are hardly any original or new literatures in BM or even in Mandarin. Isn’t it funny? All new ideas are found expressed in English but here we are obsessed with learning in BM and/or Mandarin. So instead on progressing we are actually digressing. This where they’ll say and tell us, “Hey lets all go backwards. We want to be dumb and stupid.”

It is still acceptable to use these two languages provided we have intellectually capable teachers and lecturers. Then even if they do not know English or do not teach in English, it would not bring disaster. The Japanese and French are good examples. The problem is we don’t. Here not only are they not intellectually competent, they can’t, or more precise, refuse to use English. I have yet to meet one who does not know English but is intellectually capable. All that are intellectually capable use, or have used, and are able to use, English. You expect our students to progress without learning in English? What we’ll have is the blind leading the blind.

To add to this, all, if not most of the top universities in the world use English as their medium of instruction. How do we expect our students to go to the best institutions when they can’t even command English? Here we shout and cry for the use of BM or our mother tongue, be it for purposes of identity, or as our national language, or so that we don’t become a traitor to our own race. We make a policy that even in our local universities, BM has to be used.

This is where the problem gets complicated. Say you want to continue your studies in a university overseas, at first instance you won’t be qualified as English is not your medium of instruction and because of this you either have to sit for the IELTS or the TOEFL. So an entry to a local public university does not help but actually impedes your attempt to enter a top university overseas. Thus education in a local public university does not help you; instead it makes it more difficult for you to pursue your education at a top overseas university.

Having said that, I’m not asserting that our students have no capability to pass the IELTS and TOEFL papers. It is just that certain parties do not see this irony. The irony is while they think that they are doing the nation a favour, they are actually lost in obsession and fetishism.

8 Responses

  1. Saya rasa anda tidak melihat dari neraca yang sebenar.

    Sarjana-sarjana seluruh dunia (baca : bukan prof kangkong dari sintok) telah merumuskan bahawa setiap bangsa yang menggunakan bahasa ibundanya sendiri dalam menyebarkan ilmu pengetahuan, termasuk sains dan teknologi, akan dapat memajukan bangsanya.

    Tidak ada teori yang membuktikan bahawa dengan menggunakan Bahasa Inggeris sahaja, bangsa tersebut akan maju. Jepun, Korea, Perancis, Sweden, Norway dll semuanya maju menggunakan bahasa ibunda mereka sendiri dalam bidang pendidikan. Malah, tidak menjadi keganjilan bagi mereka yang pakar dalam banyak bidang, tidak pandai berbahasa Inggeris.

    Anda kena bezakan antara bahasa dan ilmu pengetahuan. Bahasa hanya bertindak sebagai wahana/medium kepada pemindahan ilmu pengetahuan.

    Menolak Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantar Sains dan Matematik tidak bermaksud menolak kepentingan mempelajarinya. Jangan salah faham.

    Apa yang perlu ialah para cendekiawan yang telah menguasai Bahasa Inggeris untuk memindahkan/menterjemahkan ilmu pengetahuan daripada buku-buku Bahasa Inggeris kepada bahasa ibunda kita, untuk dipelajari oleh anak bangsa. Usaha ini jika dilakukan secara giat, akan memandaikan anak bangsa, kerana mereka mampu mempelajarinya dalam bahasa ibunda mereka sendiri sejak kecil.

    Saya dan kawan-kawan seangkatan merupakan produk daripada penggunaan bahasa melayu sebagai bahasa pengantar sains dan matematik. Kami tidak mempunyai masalah mempelajari subjek sains dan matematik dalam bahasa inggeris, kerana kami berjaya menguasai Bahasa Inggeris melalui pengajaran subjek Bahasa Inggeris. Ramai rakan-rakan saya yang berjaya melanjutkan pelajaran ke oversea.

    Ini bermakna, apa yang perlu diperbetulkan ialah memperbaiki pengajaran subjek Bahasa Inggeris di sekolah. Bukannya menjadikan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantar Sains dan Matematik! Langkah ini bak kata pepatah Melayu, “lain yang luka, lain yang dibebat”.

    Lihat saja UTM, sejak penubuhannya yang menggunakan Bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa pengantar dalam semua kursus, telah berjaya mencipta nama di peringkat antarabangsa dengan kejayaan demi kejayaan dalam bidang sains dan teknologi. Mereka belajar menggunakan Bahasa Melayu.

    Harap saudara faham isu pokoknya.

    Kalau nak faham lebih lanjut, boleh layari http://profabdullah1.wordpress.com/

  2. sepertimana yg telah saya nyatakan, sememangnya terdapat negara2 mana mrk maju dgn gunakan bahasa mrk sendiri, eg jepun, perancis…

    namun masalah sekarang, sudah kira2 20 tahun kita gunakan BM dan kita masih ketinggalan..kalau maju blh diterima tapi hakikatnya kita lemah, jauh ketinggalan..dlm keadaan begini saya lihat penguasaan dan pengunaan BI sebagai cara paling cepat dan berkesan utk mengejar negara2 membangun…

    satu lagi, kita tidak boleh banding cth jepun atau perancis…negara2 ini mempunyai tradisi ilmu yg cukup lama dan tinggi…masa jepun menyerang pearl harbour di amerika, kita di sini masih lagi menanam getah, dijajah…

    di perancis, mrk mempunyai para intelek yg hebat dr awal lagi…rousseau, physiocrats, descartes adalah antara yg terawal..siapa yg kita ada? parameswara? hang tuah? pada masa descartes bercakap ttg “mind-body distinction” , melaka masih lagi menanam padi, dijajah portugis…

    jadi utk banding kita dgn negara2 ini adalah tidak tepat…

    lihat singapura…selepas merdeka mrk terus guna dan menguasai BI, manakala malaysia cuba utk gunakan BM…lihat jurang kemajuan antara kita dgn mrk sekarang…

    hanya bergantung pd kelas BI adalah tidak cukup…BI yg dipelajari sms kelas BI adalah sebetulnya “a tool of communication”…BI yg dipelajari sms kelas sains dan teknologi atau matematik adalah “a language of knowledge”…jadi kita tdk boleh lari dan hanya bergantung pd kelas BI shj…

    UTM? setakat ini tak pernah dengar ttg UTM..yg paling tinggi pun hanya UM, UKM dan USM shj…UTM??

    it is ironic but in order to put BM at the forefront of intellectual civilization, we have to use and learn in English…

  3. vanguard, lisez-le s’il vous plaît;

    http://www.kesturi.net/archives/577

  4. Ahura mazda tu… the first evidential uncreated creator. But why french? oh well, you see the argument is this, that yes malay was once a lingua franca, but through natural processes it has ceased to be a lingua franca. the language is simply unable to cope wth the diversity of the post modern world. Same goes with any other language, as time takes its course the language tht is able to accommodate changes and is creative in nature wil continue to exist. The language must be revolutionary to continue to exist. Just compare the malay vocabulary to the English vocabulary. The Malay language is way behind when it comes to computer technology and future science. How could this language survive then? It is only as strong as we see it today, it is strong enough to be a medium of intellectual growth in Nusantara, its birth place and thats allready amazing. Like vanguard says… in order to UPDATE the language, we have no choice but to master the ever dynamic English. Even then, i doubt we will reinstate Malay, but a hybrid of English and Malay.

  5. Ahura mazda….tolong terjemah?Please translate?
    sebab ape yg vanguard cube nk terangkan itu ada betolnya…
    so ape komen anda?dalam perancis?kita blom pelajari bhs tu lagi nie🙂 thank you

  6. Topik ini memang hangat diperdebatkan baru-baru ini.

    Kita dengar ada pihak memberi amaran agar Kerajaan memberhentikan dasar pengajaran mata pelajaran sains and matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris, jika tidak kononnya ada yang akan membawa kerajaan ke mahkamah, ada pula akan mengadakan demonstrasi dan sebagainya.

    Namun, saya ada sedikit terkeliru di sini. Ini kerana jika diperhalusi hujahan-hujahan kedua-dua pihak, sebenarnya beberapa perkara adalah dipersetujui semua, yakni (1) Penguasaan Bahasa Inggeris adalah amat mustahak buat anak-anak kita; (2) Penguasaan Bahasa Inggeris di kalangan kanak-kanak harus dan patut dipertingkatkan.

    Dan yang dipertikaikan di sini sebenarnya adalah sama ada pengajaran bahasa Inggeris dalam mata pelajaran sains dan matematik adalah kaedah yang paling berkesan untuk mencapain objekif murni mempertingkat penguasaan Bahasa Inggeris.

    Logik serta “common sense” sudah tentu akan mengingatkan kita semua bahawa kaedah yang terbaik untuk mencapai objektif tersebut adalah melalui mata pelajaran bahasa Inggeris, kesusasteraan Inggeris, Sejarah mahupun Geografi serta mata pelajaran ilmu kemanusian lain dan bukan mata pelajaran sains dan matematik. Pada hal lebih berkesan lagi adalah mengembalikan sekolah Inggeris yang telah dilnyapkan dahulu.

    Harus diingatkan di sini, suka tak suka isu ini harus dilihat dalam konteks sistem pendidikan mempunyai kepelbagaian aliran. Selagi kita tidak berkeputusan untuk menutup sekolah-sekolah aliran lain selain aliran kebangsaan, selama itulah mata pelajaran di ajar dalam bahasa ibunda yang tertentu adalah sesutu yang logik lagi semula jadi. Apa lagi, memang terdapat banyak kajian saintifik membuktikan di periingkat rendah sekurang-kurangnya mata pelajaran paling berkesan di ajar dalam bashasa ibunda masing-masing .Namun, ini tidak bermaksud penguasaan bahasa inggeris murid-murid melalui mata pelajaran lain tidak boleh diber penekanan yang lebih.

    Lebih-lebih lagi, saya difahamkan majoriti daripada pihak yang menentang dasar tersebut memang menyambut baik pengajaran mata pelajaran sains dan matematik dalam bahasa Inggeris demi memenuhi kehendak lanjutan pendidikan kelak oleh murid-murid kita.

    Oleh yang demikian, saya dengan rendah dirinya berhujah seruan demi mengkaji semula dasar oengajaran mata pelajaran sains dan matematik harus dialu-alukan kerana ini bukan untuk tujuan “language fetish” tetapi bertunjangkan falsafah serta pendidikan tertentu yang terbukti kesahihannya.

  7. Where one stand in regards to this issue necessarily depends on one’s priority. If one regard that one’s culture and identity is more important than material success and an easier way of climbing up the ladder (in the science community at least) then he is for Science and Maths to be in BM. The rationale? because “Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa” and the much cherished but fragile mother tongue is an integral part of one’s culture. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the premise of their argument.

    On the other side of the equation, If one is for efficacy and results, one opt for it maths and science to be taught in english. That is the case with The pro English camp who couldn’t comprehend why the anti English for maths and science camp could not understand their simple logic? that English is the Lingua Franca of Science and therefore we should learn maths and science in english as it makes life much more easier in the long run.

    Of course, there are also those who are pro-english for maths and science merely because they are more comfortable with that language vis a vis Malay or chinese. This applies equally to the anti-english for maths and science gang. In other words, they want it to be in a language they are more in command of and therefore have an easier time. These are selfish motives and woe betide the day these people become leaders of our country.

    before i put in my two cent’s worth (and that’ really how much i feel my opinion is worth by the way, honest to god), allow me to lodge a caveat. The views expressed here are limited to the knowledge and information that i have at this particular moment in time. (and of course, the inherent bias of me towards the pro english camp due to my speaking in English at home.) I do not pretend to know whether students learn much better in their mother tongue or in english (although the Government produced a report saying the new policy has ostensibly improve the national performance, but that might just be the same old gerry-mandering happening so i’ll take it with a pinch of salt.)

    Nor do i pretend to fully understand the difficulty of a malay or chinese-ed chinese in learning science in English.I imagine it to be quite hard. (although i did learn my science in BM and while i l would probably enjoy it better in english, i never really had difficulty understanding the concepts.so there you have it.) The considerations above are important to shape a coherent and reasonable answer to the conundrum before us as of late.

    My argument is simple and is shaped by both inductive and deductive reasoning. Firstly, My priority is efficacy, not culture and the fallacy of “Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa.” If i’m a chinese ed father who speaks chinese at home, i would rather have my son learn Maths and science in English because that’s the language where most science books are written in. and if i’m a malay speaking malay at home to my kids, i would rather have my son learn the maths and science in english for the very same reason. Even if the maxim of “bahasa Jiwa Bangsa ” is true, the teaching of matths and science still does not go offend the said maxim because if i’m concerned about the command my son’s chinese i’ll just send him for chinese school.Or speak to him in chinese at home . and say “Gong Xi fa chai ” every year without fail to the lion who come to dance at my house. If i’m a malay father, i needn’t worry at all because BM is taught at school, and all the other subjects are also taught in BM. Even freaking pendidikan jasmani! Or Moral for that matter.

    Most people got mixed with the real issues in this debate. It is not so much about eroding one’s culture or degrading the status of BM. To be sure, the teaching of maths and science in English certainly does not forbid one to celebrate one’s culture and heritage. Are you saying all those professors who went oversea and study became less malay or less cultured whenthey come back. Or that they have somehow forgot to speak malay when they come back. Or that a chinese is less a chinese because of the teaching of science in englsih.

    having said that, this is also not an issue about improving one’s command of englsih. The teaching of maths and science is not about improving one’s english generally. that’s for the english teachers and the child’s parents to do. That’s outside the ambit of this maths in english policy. The premise for this policy (in my view) is that it will be easier for our kids in the long run to master science, gatin knowledge, share information and gain scientific breakthrough in the international community if we use the exitsing lingua franca of science- Bahasa Inggeris. If one is to depend on transalation, it will take longer and in this age and time of information techology and all that jazz, time and speed is of the essence. Transalation requires more money, time and effort. First u need a guy who is proficient in BM. then he also have to be proficient in Englsih. In fact has to be very good with both these languages. On top of that, he needs to be very proficient in the subject matter itself. No many people can do that. I know i can’t.

    In sum, i am for the teaching of maths and science in english because it’ll be more efficient and effective in conquering science and maths and secondly, it’s but a fallacy to say that it will erode one’s culture or one’s command of the mother tongue. Thirdly, there are not visible and extra benefits of teaching it in the BM language. (apart from giving those who are comfortable with the language an easier time.)

    Note: the only weakness of my argument as i can see it is that existing students who have a poor command of english now may have a big problem in learning science and the sudden change would impair them and put them at a disadvantage. Small kids who speak little or no english at home may also have a hell of a time in learning science in a language which is pratically foreign to them. My submission upon this point would be that this is an unfortunate problem which involves the transitional phase where the government would have to minimize the damage. But once this transitional phase is over, then the fruits are there to be reaped.

  8. Nigel Warburton.. is a Malaysian? Come on!!! Oh gosh… ish ish ish Aaron Randall Masudal sounds just fine…

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