English Proficiency Still Low At Local Varsities

23 Jan 2007
Hamidah Atan

PUTRAJAYA: The Higher Education Ministry is carrying out a study to gauge the level of English proficiency among lecturers and students of local universities.

Once the feedback is obtained, Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said appropriate action would be taken to rectify it.

Mustapa said preliminary findings revealed that the level of proficiency of about 29 per cent of the 132,000 university students was either at “Level One or Level Two” — the lowest in the Malaysian University English Test (Muet).

About 43 per cent is at Level Three (average), 21 per cent at Level Four (satisfactory), five per cent at Level Five (good) and the remaining two percent is at Level Six, which is excellent.

Mustapa said for lecturers, a similar study and “classification” would be implemented.

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“Previously, there was a study to ascertain English proficiency among lecturers of public universities. However, we found that the findings were not specific, as it did not involve all universities and courses.”

He said the management of some universities had been directed to carry out programmes or courses that could further enhance the command of English among their students and lecturers.

“Their command of the language is not at the worrying stage but there is room for improvement if we are to turn Malaysia into an international educational hub.”

At the ministry’s monthly gathering, Mustapa also said that the management of several universities had already taken the initiative to conduct extra English Language classes for students.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has taken steps to improve the command of the language among its students and lecturers.

UTM vice-chancellor Datuk Professor Dr Mohd Zulkifli Mohd Ghazali said short- and long-term programmes had been lined up.

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“We recently formed an English unit, headed by a director. This unit serves as a support system in promoting English in UTM’s learning and teaching processes.”

Starting this year, Zulkifli also said English was being used in all the courses conducted at UTM.

“Except for subjects like Tamaddun Islam, all professional courses are taught in English. All lecturers must teach both local and foreign students in English.

“If we want to encourage international students to come to UTM, or any local university for that matter, we must ensure that they are taught using good and not broken English.”

Universiti Teknologi Mara vice-chancellor Datuk Seri Prof Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah said English had been the medium of instruction for all the programmes in UiTM.

“All lecturers, especially junior lecturers, must have a good command of the language. From time to time, their performances are assessed by the respective deans who will be making their rounds in classes or lecture halls.”

Special English courses were also held regularly for lecturers.

“We also make it compulsory for Public Speaking to be the subject for all courses, diploma and degree programmes. We will continue to introduce courses or programmes that can improve English proficiency of our students and lecturers,” he said.

David Hng

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    English Proficiency Still Low At Local Varsities « Speaking English…

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