Saras was insistent that I blog this. Placed the photocopies in my hand since I had missed the originals. (Yes, I've been telling her to get a blog of her own and I think she's finally listening.)
I'm sure most of you will have read it and been horrified by the advertorial which appeared in the New Straits Times (Lim Kit Siang was kind enough to put it on his blog). Quite apart from it having more capital letters than any other piece of writing I've ever seen in my life (I'm sure there's a parody to be made out of this), the standard of English is completely, totally inexorable. What hurts most is that this tribute to a royal personage was put out by a university.
Syed Nazri in the NST asked the questions that need to be asked about the state of English in the country.
It's a decline I've witnessed over the time I have been here (25 years). One of the assets the country had - the English language - has been stupidly squandered.
Of course the move to Bahasa Malaysia* means that everyone speaks the National language so much better. Or do they?
In my writing classes I often have participants who have very interesting things to say, but are clearly struggling in English. (Note that these are above average intelligence, educated adults holding down good jobs.) Some can barely write a grammatical sentence.
"Why not write in Malay instead?" I say. "I've taught you the skills, and you can transfer them to writing in your own language. You might even find a bigger market for your work."
"No" they reply. "My English is so much better than my Malay."
Now that really scares me. Without even one fluent language, aren't even your thought processes screwed?
And is it really so difficult to teach students to be fluent in two languages?
(Sorry for the lack of posts over the last few days. My internet connection is very very slow and frustrating again at the moment. Pages keep hanging on me, can't go anywhere, can't read my email much of the time. When will we have some better alternatives to Screamyx and the rest?)
*The national language (B.M.) became the medium of instruction nearly 30 years ago.