The Permaisuri of Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah, has called for concerted efforts to create opportunities for the young people to study the English Language and take their place on the world stage.
She said serious and urgent intervention was needed because of the “dramatic and drastic” decline in the proficiency of both written and spoken English among younger Malaysians in general.
“We should not rely on the Government entirely to reverse this trend. We need English teachers, NGOs, and corporate entities to band together to take proactive action.”
”It can be done. English can still become the language of knowledge and communication among Malaysians,” Raja Zarith Sofiah told the Royal Press Office. Speaking in her capacity as the Royal Patron of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA), she urged all concerned to motivate and inspire students to speak and write in English.
“In schools now, students don’t speak the language for fear of being mocked for trying to be a “Mat Salleh”. The perception is that if you don’t speak Bahasa Melayu, you are not proud of being a Malaysian. So they retreat and don’t speak in English,” she added.
“When I write articles in Facebook, most comments are in Malay. They have strong opinions but do not know how to express themselves in English. That is why renewed efforts are needed to inspire and motivate our young to learn English seriously,” she said.
“We have lost more than a generation of people who simply have no confidence to write or speak in English. But it is not too late. There is still hope. Let us work with the policy makers to help reverse this trend,” she said.
For young Malaysians to become relevant and be on par with other developed societies, priority must be given to the teaching of English in schools. In today’s increasingly inter-connected world, knowledge of the English language is needed to keep up with technological developments, to move forward and to be noticed by others.
The Permaisuri of Johor hopes the national education policy makers would consider placing more emphasis on English language classes in schools.