English World

Teachers can get creative to help students master English, says linguist

JOHOR BARU: A HOTELIER and linguist, Datin Dr Maimunah Abdul Rahman, said English teachers have the most important roles as shapers of the younger generation, especially in training them to be good communicators in English.

The M Suites Hotel executive director said teachers had a vital role to play in ensuring their students had a firm grasp of the language.

This, she said, was more pressing with the decline of English proficiency among graduates and jobseekers.

“I am not an English teacher, but I am the voice of the working world. I have students approaching me to look for jobs with a bag of As, but they are not well versed in English,” said Maimunah during the closing of the 8th Johor English Language Conference at M Suites Hotel here yesterday.

Some 400 English language teachers and students took part in the three-day conference organised by the Johor English Language Teaching Association (Jelta) and state Education Department.

The New Straits Times is the official media, while M Suites Hotel is the main sponsor.

Maimunah, who has a doctorate in literacy and Master of Science in Applied Linguistics, said teachers could opt for information and communications technology to create lively discussions in class.

“Is technology a distraction? That is up to the teachers to decide.” Participants of the six plenary sessions and 20 parallel workshops said they left the conference with new ideas to adopt in their classrooms.

SK Kempas English teacher Shanthini Chandra, 30, said she learned more effective mind mapping that could help her pupils.

“Dr Cynthia Yolanda Doss’s session taught us how mind-mapping techniques can help teach writing to children as young as 7.

It was an eye opener for me and I am eager to try it on my pupils.” Teaching English as a Second Language student Darshini Naidu, 23, of University of Nottingham, said she got tips for her practical teacher training.

“Even traditional methods, such as board games, can do wonders in making a child learn about proverbs and vocabulary.”

Canadian-trained English teacher Lisa Ng, who presented a talk titled

“How Students Succeed”, said cultivating a reading habit among students could improve their English proficiency.

“Children need to enjoy reading and adults must help them cultivate the habit.

There is even a YouTube channel called ‘Storyline Online’ where parents can watch videos of members of the United States Screen Actors Guild reading books with all kinds of expressions.”

US Department of State English Language Programmes Malaysia fellow Alaise Rudder echoed Ng’s sentiments, saying books, movies, television shows, songs and comic books could be used to arouse students’ interest in learning English.-nst

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