Nov 18, 2015

Dire need to address plummeting standards of English

It is not surprising to read media reports about graduates who face job interview jitters due to their poor command of the English language .

They find out too late upon leaving varsity that the standard of English they have been taught and made to believe is adequate for employment is actually a huge setback and stumbling block when they fail to speak proper English at interviews.

Sadly, they have to accept that they are simply not equipped with skills in the language and lose employment opportunities to those who are more competent. That is certainly a big blow to their morale and self-esteem.

With the current economic scenario, many companies are reluctant to bring in staff who cannot speak and write English or who lack soft skills and need retraining.

Colleges and universities churn out thousands of graduates every year who are not proficient in reading and writing English, the global language of business and industry. Millions have been spent to retrain graduates and equip them with a better command of the language.

It is sad to note that our education system is still poor despite reforms and changes made to churn out quality graduates for the market place.

We ought to move forward and be firm in ensuring graduates are properly equipped for the market place, failing which, I dread to say, we are producing graduates unfit for employment.

I hope the numerous suggestions from concerned individuals, corporations, and NGOs to elevate the importance of English to another level is also given due attention.

Two suggestions which I strongly feel should be followed through, is the teaching of maths and science in English and making English a compulsory subject in SPM.

These two suggestions, if implemented, will definitely raise the standard of English among SPM and tertiary students although there will be problems at the implementation stage.

Do not give a cold shoulder to what the public at large and industry players feel should be done. There have been strong objections from some politicians and academicians who feel English is a useless language the nation can live without.

They are bent on pouring cold water on anything they think goes against national interests and aspirations. I would think English will propel our graduates to another plateau comparable with graduates who come from countries which have English as the medium of instruction in schools and universities.

It is time to listen to industry players as they are in a better position to give feedback to the government as to what employers expect from employees.

Without a good command of English, many graduates will continue to suffer low self-esteem, shyness, timidness, and, of course, their poor employment prospects will continue until they take special pains to learn English the hard way to be able to communicate with ease and confidence.

Dr. Tan Eng Bee is an FMT reader.

With a firm belief in freedom of expression and without prejudice, FMT tries its best to share reliable content from third parties. Such articles are strictly the writer’s personal opinion. FMT does not necessarily endorse the views or opinions given by any third party content provider.

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