Sunday, January 25, 2009

Malay over English? Or vice versa?

Alright2. So the last post didn't seem to be mind-blowing eh, haha! Well, one of my good friends told me, that I care too much about what people will comment about my blog. In some ways, yes I do. But at times, I just wanna let loose from the once-in-a-while mind-wrenching work and this tired body. But answering the questions using pics from Google Image actually added to my headache that night, haha. But I think the pics I pasted were really nice though, hehe.

I have a few heavy topics to discuss actually. But I can't do it at this time. I'll wait when I'm ready =) And you will have to wait too!

Okay. Now, let's discuss on the silenced topic on "Which language these schoolkids should study Maths and Science in?" Nothing have I heard about any objection on the decision made by the Minister of Education on continuing the teaching of Maths and Science in English. To me, there could be two reasons for it: One, because they respect the ministry's collective decision, and two, they are tired of fighting for Bahasa Melayu. I'll take reason #1.

Well, I wanna share my experience studying Additional Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics in Bahasa Melayu. Life in Form 4 was more to a a challenging year rather than a 'honeymoon year' definitely, where we were introduced to 'complex' subjects with 'complex' terminologies. If you were a science student too, and shared the same experience like mine, please do share.

I was excited then to be learning subjects I perceived as 'Whoa subjects', namely the four I mentioned previously. But there was one problem: to understand what the terminologies exactly meant. Especially in Add Math and Physics.

Add maths: Janjang (until now I can't really understand the word, though it's a malay word), Pengamiran (why 'Amir'? 'Integration' makes it a lot easier to understand why the mathematical operation is like that) Lokus Dalam Dua Matra (isn't it easier to say 'Dimensi' rather than 'Matra'?), Anu (in informal malay language usage, anu means 'that thing'. Translated in English to be 'Variable').

Physics: Troli terpampas geseran (You know what crossed my mind everytime we studied this? The Pampas in Brazil!), get logik (I never knew that there was a direct translation of 'logic gate' to 'get logik'. I though the concept was 'Get logic!')

Science: Titi Tetimbang (and in English, it's the more understandable 'Transistor'!)

Those are just a part of the kerzillion words that had my classmates and I confused of what we were learning. Thank God, we just made them easier to understand in our own ways by discussing them with the teachers, so that we could answer the exams correctly. And thank God, in SPM, the question setters didn't ask questions like 'Why is it called "terpampas geseran' or 'titi tetimbang'?" surely we would have memorized the terminologies dictionary instead. Painful!

And, the transition from learning in Malay to English in the University was QUITE a transition for most of us. We had this English Test for new university entrants, where most of the students who scored low were from boarding school (I wonder why..). I was quite taken aback by that fact. Though I passed and didn't have to go through Foundation Class, it wasn't fun to know that some of your friends were not there with you.

But then, that was just a small test. Venturing further into the mind-wrenching engineering subjects required most of us to have our own dictionary beside us everytime we were studying using the thick textbooks. Yes, it was time consuming, but in the end, we got out of the university with our english (I would dare to say) being way better than it was 5 years before.

So, in this present day, I would say that the younger generation is fortunate to be learning Science and Maths in English. I personally think that it is not a way to discriminate Bahasa Melayu. What good anyway does it bring Bahasa Melayu if most of the terminologies we have are direct translations from English, if not confusing terms that makes the learning harder?

Perhaps there are ways to inculcate the love for Bahasa Melayu inside the younger generation. Though I speak English most of the time, but I still love all the art and wonders there is in Bahasa Melayu. I also have high acclaims for those who have strong grip over the language, for not all have the strong command in this nation's mother tongue. The approach and the variety of learning materials and vocabulary usage at an early age probably, can help to instill the love for the language.

I suppose, if the children of the 80s were to be questioned about their experience in this matter, they would likely say the same. I might not think of this if not for the discussion I had with a few friends about this matter over a week ago. And yes, we had the same confusion. Either there were hiccups in the education system, or was it us who weren't bright enough to understand the terminologies, that can be another issue that can be debated on.

I think if the authorities of the education system were to conduct an exit survey of the students about their learning experience, that would be a great step to help the former improve their service. And an improved learning system will definitely benefit the progenies of the nation.


iQbaL radzuan said...

lol.. 'anu' better tukar ngan 'sipolan' lagi ok.. owes gelak kalo disebut2 anu dalam add math.

english mendominasi ilmu dalam dunia ni.. mana ada melayu kuarkan teori fizik dan menggelarkan teori itu teori AWANG.. (sorry la kalo ada org bernama awang membaca.) dan menggunakan istilah2 di dalam bahasa melayu.. sedih. kalo ada pon.. still guna english. (even comment aku pon rojak..) lol.

kita makin lama.. makin dijajah kembali.. huuu..

Anonymous said...

agreed when u said young generation is fortunate to be learning math and science in english. BUT this only can be applied if u are thinking bout those directly translated terminologies that we used to learn in BM. Learning in English basically is to solve 1 prob by creating another problems. U may wanna ask school teachers how their students are performing in those subjects? especially at the sub-urban areas, or even at the satelite cities. Almost 90% of them are suffering. Ironically, our PMR and SPM result keep improving each years. Wat a nonsense. typical malaysian ministers, always in denial. rakyat diperbodoh2kan... To me, if we would like to improve the english level of our students, we should revise the whole education system right from the pre-school level. not just simply enforcing to learn math and science in english and hoping malaysian students could improve their english language proficiency.

Sharifah Zahira Syed Iedin said...

Well Anonymous, you have a point there.

But then, we (especially the ministry) surely are not ready to see (at this point of time) other subjects such as Sejarah, to be taught in English (the cost of translating!! haha). I suppose what the ministry is doing now (bila pulak I jadi spokesperson ministry ni??), is trying to find a balance between the usage of English and our Bahasa Melayu. Remember that Malays, especially the linguists (who have very strong influence over this matter) will definitely protest if Bahasa Melayu was to be taught in decreased number of subjects.

Another good argument is that, our fathers and mothers went to English school, but compared to us, their nationalism is much stronger compared to ours. So, why would our linguists be so scared if the national language was to be taught in decreased number of subjects?

And, will learning all subjects in English erode our efficiency in our own mother tongue? Well, perhaps the ministry can optimize the role of the Bahasa Melayu subject then. Do more creative writing perhaps, capitalize on puisi, pantun, komponen sastera..etc.

To have Malaysian students in a whole to have good grip on English, I see a few problems:
1) Parents with low awareness on the importance of English. I personally believe that a good start to learning English is prior to the toddlers stepping into kindergarten. My toddler days were filled with good balance between Bahasa and English. Which helped me a lot in pacing deeper into both subjects.

2) Competent teachers. How many of our teachers really have good command of English? Doubtful. Especially the teachers who do not teach English Language. And how are we supposed to learn good English if only the minority has strong grip over it? Two wrongs do not make it correct. If this scenario is no longer applicable in today's teachers, then I'm thankful.

3) Mindset of the pupils. Especially in the sub-urban and the rural areas. "English is hard". "English is just for those in the cities". "Why must I learn it in English?". Mindset is definitely a tough paradigm to shift.

Huh, if only the ministry people is reading what we are discussing.. I wonder will it be of help?

desh said...

The counter show 6988? Wah. It increases exponentially. :)

I wonder did anyone ask the pupils or students, what they really want?
We can start from there.

Sharifah Zahira Syed Iedin said...

Can I say, it is good to build a system using the principle of "start with the end in mind"..

mangifera said...

hrm...i think we should start in kindergarten instead of pushing it to the middle of the park. younger mind could take it all whether in suburb or urban area. i quite disagree with sudden implementation. it bring lots of stress to the students.

if we need to do it, we need to do it properly start at kindergarten so that these kids have early exposure of english. not just jumble everything to kids who adapting with the subjects yet we throw them another obstacle to them!

regarding the suburb community, i have to agree with anonymous. what i could say is not really the mindset but the environment itself. i myself came from a Felda in suburb of kuantan. to excel yourself, you need to go against all odds. not to mention your parent is so narrow minded which make learning at home is difficult. my parent doesn't even finish primary school.

so when my mom sees me watching english movie, she accused me to have high sex drive to watch all those sexy actress in their exposed clothes. and also there is one time when my mom accused to gamble when i'm obsessed with chess (yeah, she doesn't understand that chess at all). to get english reading material is difficult so i need to dig up my school library for that. even the environment didn't encourage you to speak or using english.

it's not just mentality, it's the environment itself. most of the time, most kids just collapsed under the pressure and give up. as for me, i giving my best because i want to get out of the suburb. my will is just too strong to get out and against all odds is not a problem for me. but how many kids nowadays have the same thought as early as standard 3? i bet most of them just study for their parent and didn't even have the thought of what they want to do with their life.

opss...sorry melalut. but i still think if we really keen to get it done, we need to have the implementation as early as kindergarten.

desh said...

Start with the end in mind is good for personal development. (7 habits niii..) But if we try to push it too hard in a complex system, we will end up in a dictatorship.

And Mr. Mango is absolutely right. But not every person is bestowed by that winning mindset. Nak buat macam mana.

Zsa Zsa said...

hahaha! janjang? hahaha! lupe dah
ooh takutnye baca komen2 ko nih...bagaisatu dua entry d pos kat sini..huhu

SaRaH said...

from my experience..learning math and science in english make it really easy but when in malay..really tough.when i'm reading..if i read english novels i'm less emotional but when i read malay novels...i can get sooo emotional..da way the words flow just can make my eyes all watery..ehehe.malay or english both are good if applied in the right situation..

nobi said...

Just an opinion....

Back in our parents time, they learned in English, and most of us the new generation today (gen-X) are not exposed entirely in English...and because of that when we further study in University, most of us are not confident enough...

what the government try to implement is the best for our generation...we will replace them someday…with good English, we simply can catch up with outside world…

why we can’t use our own BAHASA in all work/job/task/things we do?...because we do not have enough people who have strong/excellent/brilliant knowledge..because of that, world will not recognise us…we have to have a knowledge in order to challenge outside…with knowledge we could fight, even we can create something which maybe are not being explored yet (not possible isn’t it?)…

the main point why government (since Tun actually) try to implement this is only for our good…imaging all around the world have to use BAHASA as world language?...we go to japan, “apa khabar?” Japanese ppl “baik2, kamu pula?”…we go to german “ape makanan sedap dekat sini?” german ppl “khinzir” (just joking)….but how we want to make this happen?...

we should be proud no other country like Malaysia…but why we never satisfy? is just English (and I know ppl will mention to me “Alep, ko tak pe la, ko pandai dah”)…is it that kind of attitude we want? we want to make progress if we still in 3rd class mindset?...we still in 3rd class mindset I would say…we have to change…of course government has do their study on sub-urban area, they are not simply implement in full-force mode, but by stages…we have to try to tackle the challenge, if we lose, it doesn’t make us lose of the time…try not to give up, push harder…

REMEMBER, we will replace our parents someday, are we still want to be behind forever?...tepuk dada tanye selera.. peace!

p/s: my vocab is poor, but im trying my best to learn…im still learning, learning never ends…

desh said...

All comments here really makes sense. The pros and cons make sense.
And it has been a while since fellow Zahira's blog readers really gave serious comments other than "OMG, LOL or *wink*"
Haha =D

It is hard to influence the system since we are not the decision maker. But what we can really do is to influence the people around us to do the right thing especially to our children and siblings.

The truth is there is no simple right solution for something.
There is no one size fit all solution. You use English, the suburban kids are paying the price. You use BM, the smart kids and the city kids are paying the price.

But hey, not to worry, the suburban kids can still pursuit career as modern day farmers or businessmen. While the city kids can become engineers and managers.

firdaus said...

maths and science yg susah tu.. jadi makin susah nak paham...

kalau perkataan mcm pengamiran, janjang, or penakulan mantik tu yg buat confius, then cahnge the words, dont change the languange... unless kalau mahu membakar kelambu bila ada lubang yg buat nyamuk masuk... we can always borrow the words from other languange... english, or even japanese or french.. if we need it...

country that good in their technology, only US and UK use english to teach their student... that's because english is their mother tounge... germany, france, italy, japan, all use their mother tougne... simply because language is create to understand...

nur farihah mohamed rashidi said...

i agreed with u kak.
i was like having a small concussion here when i first read the maths and science terms in Malay.
a word best describe; WEIRDO!
luckily, my SPM will be in english.