De­bunk DLP myths

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP - BY BHAVANI KR­ISHNA IYER

IWAS happy to read that the Dual Lan­guage Pro­gramme (DLP) will be ex­panded to all schools un­der the Se­cond Wave (2013- 2025) of the Malaysia Ed­u­ca­tion Blue­print as an­nounced by Deputy Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Chong Sin Woon.

It has been re­ported that in prepa­ra­tion for this ma­jor step by the min­istry to im­prove English pro­fi­ciency of school leavers and grad­u­ates, teach­ers have been un­der­go­ing train­ing for the past two years.

The DLP, which kicked off in Jan­uary, was ini­tially open to 300 schools. It works on the premise that class­room teach­ing and learn­ing will be in both Ba­hasa Malaysia and English with the choice left to the schools.

Af­ter a long time we are see­ing a tri­alled ini­tia­tive be­ing ex­panded with­out go­ing to the butch­ers too soon and we hope to see some mea­sur­able and ob­serv­able out­comes.

How­ever, fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment Chi­nese schools protested say­ing such a move might ruin the em­pha­sis placed on the pri­mary lan­guage used in the school.

It is of­ten said it is only when we stop fear­ing, we can be­gin to live, ex­per­i­ment and ex­plore and in this con­text, un­founded fears seem to have gripped some groups tight enough to have squeezed out strong dis­ap­proval to adopt­ing the DLP.

The Chi­nese or­gan­i­sa­tions that pe­ti­tioned against the DLP be­ing adopted in Chi­nese schools need re-ed­u­ca­tion. Per­haps a more pro­found source of in­for­ma­tion needs to be made avail­able to them to de­mys­tify mis­con­cep­tions.

What is sorely miss­ing is prob­a­bly the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry not hav­ing suf­fi­ciently en­gaged with the stake­hold­ers, stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers and the com­mu­nity.

From what I read, there is huge up­ris­ing from ap­pre­hen­sion that the DLP will erode the im­por­tance of mother tongue in Chi­nese schools and this was ex­actly the anx­i­ety shared by Malay groups some months ago.

Dong Zong (United Chi­nese School Com­mit­tees Association) urged the Chi­nese com­mu­nity to re­ject the DLP to pre­vent the ero­sion of the char­ac­ter­is­tics of Chi­nese na­tional-type schools.

The rel­e­vant communities need to be ed­u­cated that es­sen­tially, the DLP is a way to en­sure that non-English-speak­ing stu­dents, or stu­dents who are not yet pro­fi­cient in English, are given eq­ui­table op­por­tu­ni­ties to suc­ceed in and com­plete their ed­u­ca­tion.

While schools and teach­ers may use a va­ri­ety of dual-lan­guage strate­gies, each with its own in­struc­tional goals, the pro­gramme is de­signed to de­velop English flu­ency, con­tent knowl­edge, and aca­demic lan­guage – the knowl­edge, skills, and cul­tural pro­fi­cien­cies needed to suc­ceed aca­dem­i­cally as well as in life.

The DLP varies in struc­ture and im­ple­men­ta­tion but the com­mon goal for stu­dents is to de­velop bilin­gual­ism and bilit­er­acy, based on high lev­els of pro­fi­ciency in two lan­guages

A key el­e­ment in re­al­is­ing the goal is the “ad­di­tive bilin­gual” pur­pose, whereby all stu­dents learn a new lan­guage while con­tin­u­ing to de­velop aca­dem­i­cally and lin­guis­ti­cally in their home/na­tional lan­guage.

In this con­text, the myths as­so­ci­ated with DLP must be debunked quickly be­fore they spread and be­come en­trenched.

If we look at the root is­sue, mother tongue or na­tional lan­guage pro­fi­ciency has never been a con­cern. English pro­fi­ciency or the lack of it has stayed in fo­cus with the in­ten­sity sus­tained for as long as I can re­mem­ber. Let us ac­cept that when one be­comes pro­fi­cient in English, his or her con­fi­dence soars, op­por­tu­ni­ties show up and global exposure fol­lows.

All of these may not be achiev­able if we work on the ba­sis of com­pro­mise.

“The English lan­guage is no­body’s spe­cial property. It is the property of the imag­i­na­tion; it is the property of the lan­guage it­self.”

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