From Sh Nur Shahrizad Sy Mohamed Sharer
PERTH, Dec 9 (Bernama) -- The Education Ministry will study Australia's intensive English language course with a view to making it a model in strengthening the teaching of the language in Malaysia, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
Describing Australia's model as a good example, Muhyiddin said the ministry would look into whether it was in line with Malaysia's policy on upholding the Malay language and strengthening the command of English.
Muhyiddin, who is Education Minister, said based on Australia's experience, the ministry would look into the possibility of adding more contents to the English language subject at the pre-school level, for a start.
"If possible, we want to have a period where English is taught in an intensive manner. So we are looking at whether we can start this at the pre-school level because this is the time, when the children are still small, that they are able to pick up the language easily.
"That is for a start and after that, when they enter formal schooling, we will study whether we need to implement another round of intensive programme at Year Three or Year Four level," he told reporters after attending a closed-door briefing by Western Australia Education Department, here today.
The two-hour session was also attended by the department's curriculum and support service director, Karen Webster, and its principal consultant, Coral Jenkins.
It touched, among others, on the implementation of the English intensive course involving students who are non-native speakers of English.
Muhyiddin said the students chosen for the programme, most of whom are from Asian parentage, were required to take a year of the course at the Intensive English Centre, with the cost fully borne by the Australian government.
He added that only trained teacher were taken to teach intensive English, which takes place a total of five hours a day. In Malaysia, English is taught five hours a week.
"The course, I'm told, is extremely effective and within a year the students are able to have a good grasp of the language," he said.
Muhyiddin said however, that if the programme was to be implemented in Malaysia, it should be tailored to the local conditions and environment, taking into consideration the number of teaching staff available as well as the cost to be borne by the government.
"Here (in Australia), this may be easy to implement because the number of students involved is not many, maybe at around 7,000, compared to the situation in Malaysia where there are about 500,000 pupils in one cohort nationwide.
"Meaning, it's going to require a high cost to implement it," he said.
Muhyiddin said based on the briefing given, the Australian government spent about A$12,000 for each student who took up the course, nearly twice the amount spent on students in normal schools.
The Malaysian government has implemented numerous measures to strengthen the teaching and learning of English in Malaysia including bringing in teachers who are native speakers of English apart from increasing the number of periods for the language in school schedules nationwide.