Using foreign words to help teach Kadazan
Published on: Sunday, December 24, 2017

Oswald Supi
PENAMPANG: The toughest challenge in teaching Kadazan in schools today is that the students have totally lost their mother tongue and cannot even understand basic words.

Ironically foreign words have to be used to convey meanings, according to two lecturers from IPG Kampus Kent Tuaran, Dr Chiam Sun May and Evelyn Annol.

They were explaining after delivering their short papers during a Seminar on Kadazan language held at the Donggongon Library Hall.

Trainee teachers from their campus doing practical cannot deliver their prepared sets of lessons because about 80pc of the students totally cannot communicate in their mother tongue and soon get bored, they said.

The other problems are lack of teaching aids, academic reference books and mentoring process where the senior teachers acting as mentors are themselves not experts in the language.

Another combined paper by the two was a study on the use of language by the Kadazans themselves in the district.

Their findings were that those born in the 50s are still using the language, those from the 60s are dedicated in urging the use of the language but sadly those from the 70s to the 90s are no longer even speaking among themselves in Kadazan.

The participants were told that the language is not even taught at St Michael's School, in the heartland of the Kadazans, because there are no takers of the subject.

In terms of gender, the womenfolk are more active in promoting the language.

The impact of the language being aired in the radio gave rise to some patriotism when the name of the village where the singers and composers came from are also mentioned, said Evelyn.

The British recognised the language in 1950 and by 1955 only 15 minutes of airtime was allocated and only for news. The Department of Information and Broadcasting decided to use Kadazan after doing some research and found it clear, easy to understand and already used in Church.

When independence came, the language was removed from the air in 1969, however, in 1979 it was revived after a radio pioneer Wilfred Mojilis applied personally to the Director to have the Kadazan Programme included in the air, said Evelyn.

The last brief paper was delivered by Sandra Logijin who drafted the Kadazan Curriculum at the Ministry of Education.

Previously trained as an English language teacher, she herself had to relearn her mother tongue and carried out research from other teachers the oral heritages, customs, traditions and identity of the Kadazans and then publish.

However, staying in Putrajaya where there are few or no other Kadazans to socialise with, she said her eldest child speaks in English while her younger ones can only understand but cannot speak even when she took steps to reverse the trend of losing the language in her family.

The seminar was jointly organised with Kadazan Society Sabah. Its President Datuk Marcel Leiking officiated the closing together with several of his committee members. Also present were community leaders from the Native Court, retired teachers and authors who are still very active in promoting the language.


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