An English Teacher's Response To Berita Harian's "70 Peratus Guru BI Tak Fasih"

Here's the article I'm responding to.
If you haven't read the article from Berita Harian, you can read it here.
A lot of people have asked me for my opinion on this & so let me make an official one here.
Also, take note that it was mentioned by a minister who wanted to advice teachers on beefing up their English proficiency during an event for students.
Why talk about teachers at an event for students? I will never know.
Anyway, I usually take anything a politician says with a pinch of salt (both opposition & government). I think you should too.

1# IT'S OLD NEWS & THE ACTUAL NUMBER IS 67%

An earlier article about the CPT results. Might not be the earliest.
I don't know what the fuss is all about. This is actually old news.
Those of you who have been with me on my FB Page would have read my numerous comments about CPT & read my CPT guide.
Also, do take note that The Star reported that the number of English teachers who were not proficient was 2/3 of the 70,000 who took the test.
Not 70%. 2/3 is more like 66.66%.
A little too far to round up to 70%, no? But, it has achieved it's intended shock effect.

UPDATE 20/6/2013: I just realised that there have been ongoing tests since then so the statistics might have changed since the article from The Star.

2# NON-OPTIONISTS PROBABLY THE BULK OF FAILURES

Here's another Berita Harian Article with actual numbers.
According to the Berita Harian article above, out of 70k English language teachers in Malaysia, 33k are non-optionists.
That means 33k English teachers are not actually English teachers. They are teachers trained to teach BM, Sejarah, Japanese, PJK, Science, Math, etc. I suspect that the bulk of failures came from these non-optionists.
Can we really blame a BM teacher for failing a BI test? No.
Can we blame a BM teacher for not being able to teach BI well? No.

3# NON-OPTIONISTS ARE ONLY 47% WHICH MEANS...


Non-Optionists/Total of English L Teachers = Percentage of Non-Optionists
33,000/70,000 = 47%

Non-optionists are only 47% of the teachers teaching BI. A total of 67% failed CPT. What about the other 20%?
OH SNAP!! They must have come from the optionists themselves! What are the numbers?


20% X Total English Language Teachers = Total of Failing English Optionists
20% X 70,000 = 14,000

14k out of 37k English Optionists failed CPT! That is a big amount! The percentage?


Total of Failing English Optionists/Total of English Optionists = Percentage of Failing Optionists
14,000/37,000 = 38%

38% of English Language Optionists failed CPT!! That's 2 out of 5 English Optionists!!!
NOW THAT IS ALARMING!!!!

This raises a lot of questions about the recruitment & vetting of prospective English teachers.
Don't we have plenty of interviews before teachers are confirmed? Why weren't they weeded out then? What about during their tertiary years?

Also, what have they done to retain talented English teachers?
I know many talented ones who have left for greener pastures. I dread to think about what is left behind after the best have left.
Actually, they left me behind... so... I must be... =(


4# TEACHERS DON'T KNOW THEIR RESULTS


The CPT results have been out for nearly a year now & ALL the teachers who took it, have NO idea how they did. Personal results were kept secret for unknown reasons. Apparently, only high ranking officers in the Education Ministry have access to the results.
I don't think it's much of a secret now, is it? Why not let us know how we did personally?

If I knew that I did badly, I'd work on it just like the minister in this article advised.
Since I don't know how I did, I might as well consider myself one of the 3,000 CPT high-achievers, which, of course, I obviously am.

I guess teachers can't be trusted so we'll just wait for the man to call us up for the Pro-ELT course & use up the precious time we could be spending on more meaningful school work or, a personal favourite, REST.
The teachers called up for these courses would be the only ones with the privilege of finding out their results because only those in the B Band would be called for this course.

For those of us in the C & A Bands, I guess we'll keep on guessing & strutting into class like a boss.

Comments

  1. I had a session with malikka vasugi in the melta conference and she said a high proficiency teacher was called for probelt course. thing is, teachers bdo not get their own results. and now they cone with alarming number? what the...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's an alarming number, isn't it?
      I'm surprised so many non-proficient people are hired to be English teachers.

      Delete
  2. according to a friend, those in the tertiary, the IPG to be exact, had just recently received their results. maybe we are still waiting.

    English teacher's own language ability is a long existing issue with no tangible solution.

    my friends who teach in IPG and universities just couldn't believe the straight As SPM-ers actual ability when doing their teaching degree. thus in turn, ask me why is that so?

    one thing for sure, if the school wants me to produce A students I can. but to really improve their language ability, i think we need better strategy.

    it all has to start from the beginning, from home, from the early childhood. if they are so unfortunate and do not have that privilege, then how many are alert enough to shape their own future by taking charge and putting down the foot and say yes, they want to improve to be better? over my 6 years in secondary school, i've only encountered ONE ~

    if we are still focusing on the power struggle between who is more prestige ,BM or English or Mandarin, this, will never resolve. essentially, english need not be more prestige if given more time or chance to develop in this country. if we want to have BM as national language, so be it. then we must accept english is not ESL, it'll be EFL or EOL, just like Japan or Hong Kong, or Taiwan.

    but we Malaysians, we are super kiasu. we want our cake and eat it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. This is news to me. Lecturers got their results while teachers keep on guessing.
      Sometimes I think that straight A students are overrated. They possibly possess the skills necessary to equip themselves with knowledge BUT they need to have a bit of humble pie because, most of the time, they struggle at bringing themselves down to the level of their borderline students (which I believe is a majority of students in Malaysia).
      Talking about cake & pie. I'm hungry...

      Delete
  3. It goes as far back as one's home and social environment and one's school...and teachers...PLUS the selection process in choosing those to train to become teachers and I refrain from pinpointing where the main weaknesses lie.

    Frankly, I cringe when I see what some of them, while-training and post-training, write e.g. on Facebook, but I guess with the standard of the language these days, if they are motivated and hardworking...and can teach their students that much that they themselves know, they do deserve a pat on their backs.

    The trouble is more the problem of attitude (lazy, not bothered, just waiting for their salaries at the end of the month and so on...) than their own proficiency in the language...and they should work on improving their own proficiency instead or resorting to teaching (and conversing with) their students (and colleagues) in Malay or Mandarin. Practice makes perfect...and language is more acquired than learnt, through using, not so much by studying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right. There are some English teachers who prefer to use BM or BC.
      But I am very fortunate to be surrounded by English teachers who use BI or try to use as much of it as they can.
      And attitude does make a big difference. Imagine the horror of students learning bad attitudes from their teacher!

      Delete
  4. I dont know why the non optionists teach english language subject... Haihhh.. i met a few teachers who have to teach english and they hate it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you can tell from the statistics above, our country is extremely short of English teachers. We should be grateful that administrators pay enough attention to English that they force non-optionists to teach it instead of leaving the classes vacant.

      Delete
  5. I think that your calculation is flawed because you overgeneralised that the whole population of the non-optionists failed the test (67% - 47% = 20%), when there may actually be those from the non-optionist group that passed the test. This, therefore, would mean that the percentage of the optionists' failing may be higher than what you calculated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very astute of you. No doubt, non-optionists could pass too.
      So it's really alarming that even if we blame the non-optionists for the large number of failures (like many optionists do), there are still plenty of optionists who have failed themselves.

      Delete

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