A post by Lilian stirred up something that I have kept quiet about all this while. It’s about the standard of English with our younger generations. They can’t even construct a proper sentence and their grammar is far from perfect. I know the majority will be blaming our educational system for this degradation of their command in the most widely used language in the world. I too tend to agree that view.
My generation was the last generation to receive a proper English education in a proper English school. When I went to Form One, the government started converting all Government Primary Schools from English medium to malay medium. Back then, all Government Schools were called, GEPS, or Government English Primary School or GES, Government English School for Secondary School. After the conversion, they became what is known today as Sekolah Rendah Jenis Kebangsaan.
We followed the Cambridge Syllabus for our English lessons. Our Form Five Certificate was known as M.C.E, or Malaysian Certificate of Education and the English paper that we sat for was approved by Cambridge of London. We had literature classes and when we reached upper secondary we read Macbeth by Shakespeare and books by Charles Dickens. It was truly an English Education that we got.
The big conversion began the year I started Form One. That year, all pupils starting Standard One in Government schools started all their lessons in Bahasa Malaysia, leaving English as a subject just like Art or Maths. That was the year, the rot started. This phasing out of English as the main medium of teaching created a generation of young ones whose proficiency in the language is comparable to those in Standard 3 or 4 during my times. We could construct a simple sentence with no grammatical error by the time we were in Standard 3 because twice a week, we were given at least 10 words to “make a sentence” as homework. We were also given spelling test 3 times a week. Did you know that when it comes to spelling in English, we are way ahead of the Americans?
When I left school after finishing my Form Five, the new batch of secondary students, a whole new generation of them, who started Form one, could not speak and write proper English. This was the first batch of English Deficient Students and this was the first batch that joined all the universities around the year 1980. By the year, 1984 or so, we have a whole new batch of University Students who could not differentiate past and present tenses, joining the Malaysian workforce.
Fortunately and definitely there were also lots of far sighted parents who foresaw the importance of English. They sent them for English tuition and lessons to offset what was lacking in school. Then there are some who has a genuine interest in the language and they took time to polish it up, but sadly, they belonged to the minority group.
Coming back to the Malaysian Blogging scene. Lots of us, me included, writes in manglish to interact better with our readers. This style of writing brings us closer. It’s like we are talking to each other in person and not through words. It’s a style unique only along our shores and it’s best kept within these shores. Using it in an international arena would only jatuh your own standard. *heehehe… can’t help it*