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Give more teaching time to English language: Ex-judge
Published on: Saturday, June 20, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: The English language is an important international language and should be given its due priority in the Malaysian education system, said retired Court of Appeal Judge, Dato' Wira Low Hop Bing.He said it was perhaps time the government consider giving more teaching time to the English language, adding however, this should be done without sacrificing the mother tongues.

"Mother tongues must be continued to be preserved and the right to study must continue but the English language can still be made compulsory.

"Make it compulsory in schools and that would certainly improve the level of English in our newer generation," he said after delivering his motivational talk 'Power of Transformation' at Institut Sinaran on Friday.

Illustrating his point, he said there were some young lawyers now who were better in communicating in Bahasa Malaysia than in English and that their command of the English language still had a lot of room for improvement.

He said one of the most important instruments of lawyers was their language skill with their communication skill being of utmost importance.

"During my time English was the medium of instruction and therefore we prided ourselves in having a good command of the English language.

"Of course that is not at the expense of Bahasa Malaysia, (as) we also lay great emphasis on Bahasa Malaysia and improved on Bahasa Malaysia without any difficulty whatsoever."

Low said unless young lawyers have a strong determination to go on improving themselves in the English language, they were going to have a hard time reading reference books as most of these are in English and also the judgements from around the world were written in English.

Furthermore, he said the Malaysian education system had for too long put emphasis on other things so priority should now be given to the English language in addition to the students' mother tongues because the students have to be multilingual in the global society.

He nevertheless said students need to first make learning a priority in life and understand that not having a good grasp of a language should never be an obstacle or barrier to continuing their higher learning.

"Although one may be Chinese educated, the standard of English should not be lower than those from the English medium," he said, adding that students also need to be very focused in choosing their career paths.

He said students should find something which they were good and passionate about and work from there.

"Of course the students (have to) have their own individual inclination which the students themselves must know.

"If they do not know, they do not have a compass in life and without the compass in life they don't have direction."

He also remarked on how students nowadays were more often than not born in comfort zones which in many cases may not be beneficial to them.

"During my time, because of the ever (difficult) situations prevailing then, we were to some extent quite innovative. Because when you are poor, you have to change (and) when you change, you improve. That is how you overcome the adversities in life.

"They (the students) don't have any poverty problem, they don't live from hand to mouth so that comfort may not necessarily be beneficial to them.

"So they must know their own inclination, their own aptitude, and they must have good attitude in order to achieve the altitude of their success."



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