Much ado about PPSMI

Fa Abdul

Modified 3 Feb 2020, 11:40 pm

COMMENT | The first language I learned as a child was Tamil. Before I was even fluent in my mother tongue, my dad started teaching me simple English at the age of four. When I was enrolled in a church-based kindergarten a year later, the basic English I learnt at home became handy.

Until I turned seven, I was never trained nor given lessons on mastering our national language, Bahasa Malaysia. Everyone at home only spoke either Tamil or English - after all, my dad was English educated and my mom, Tamil. Dad taught mom a bit of English while mom taught dad to read and write in Tamil.

Although no one at home used Bahasa Malaysia as a language to communicate with one another at the time, we religiously watched local news in Bahasa Malaysia and were big fans of P Ramlee movies. Being exposed to Bahasa Malaysia indirectly, somehow I understood it - it wasn't a foreign language to me.

When I attended primary school, I began picking up on my Bahasa Malaysia. It wasn't difficult to learn my third language because everyone at school was using Bahasa anyway - most textbooks and...

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