CATs the way for stu­dents to learn English

Ru­ral schools to pi­lot new on­line sys­tem

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - By RE­BECCA RAJAENDRAM ed­u­cate@thes­tar.com.my

PUTRAJAYA: Ru­ral stu­dents will be the first to ex­pe­ri­ence a new way to learn English us­ing the Cam­bridge Ac­ces­si­ble Tests (CATs).

It has three stages, pri­mary, core and prep, with each hav­ing nine lev­els.

Stu­dents will un­dergo a place­ment test to de­ter­mine which level they will be placed in and have to com­plete each level be­fore mov­ing on to the next.

Pro­gres­sion from one level to the next sig­ni­fies an in­crease in lan­guage pro­fi­ciency.

English Lan­guage Teach­ing Cen­tre (ELTC) di­rec­tor Dr Mo­hamed Abu Bakar said the de­tails have yet to be fi­nalised.

“About 40 pri­mary and sec­ondary schools will be iden­ti­fied within the next month to pi­lot the new on­line as­sess­ment sys­tem.

“We want to fo­cus on lower band and ru­ral schools which do not have much out­side class­room ex­po­sure to English,” he said.

He said CATs was meant to be used as sup­ple­men­tary ma­te­rial for stu­dents out­side class­room hours and is based on the Com­mon Euro­pean Frame­work of Ref­er­ence (CEFR) for lan­guage pro­fi­ciency.

CEFR is a guide de­vel­oped by the Coun­cil of Europe to gauge for­eign lan­guage pro­fi­ciency.

Dr Mo­hamed said the ma­te­rial will be bilin­gual to cater to weaker stu­dents and will also be “self-man­aged” by them.

He also said that CATs was touted as a “unique, high-qual­ity and low cost so­lu­tion to learn­ing English.”

He added that this was part of the min­istry’s ef­forts to reach an 81% pass­ing rate in the Si­jil Pe­la­jaran Malaysia (SPM) English Lan­guage ex­am­i­na­tions.

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, who an­nounced this yes­ter­day, said ru­ral schools will be cho­sen to pi­lot the CATs.

“It’s im­por­tant that we see how to im­prove English Lan­guage pro­fi­ciency among ru­ral school stu­dents,” he said af­ter ex­plain­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion strat­egy of the English Lan­guage Ed­u­ca­tion to ben­e­fit stu­dents.

“At the very least, we want them to be able to com­mu­ni­cate in the lan­guage,” he added.

Mahdzir said a work­ing com­mit­tee will be formed to mon­i­tor and im­ple­ment the as­sess­ment sys­tem, in­clud­ing the pi­lot which is ex­pected to start in Au­gust.

The project is in part­ner­ship with Cam­bridge Malaysia Ed­u­ca­tion and Devel­op­ment Trust (CMEDT) and will be spear­headed by its ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Tun Ah­mad Sarji Ab­dul Hamid, and Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor-gen­eral Tan Sri Dr Khair Mo­hamad Yu­sof.

Mahdzir said the as­sess­ment sys­tem was ready for im­ple­men­ta­tion and teach­ers were un­der­go­ing train­ing to use it with the min­istry’s ELTC.

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