LETTER | On March 10, the need to "Intensify training to improve the English proficiency of teachers" was reported in the media.
Among other issues that were mentioned are:
i) Capable teachers and ensuring sufficient numbers to teach Mathematics in English to meet the government’s policy of allowing the teaching of both subjects in English.
ii) Ensure the principals can converse in English fluently so that they can run the programme smoothly.
It was also commented by prominent academicians that teachers in schools are not proficient enough to use English as the medium of instruction.
I am not surprised in knowing this as English, as the medium of instruction, has been discussed and talked about for so long and still there are no concrete solutions to overcome the problem.
We may ask what we really want from our education system, especially in using English as the medium of instruction. As I read through some of the papers, articles and journals, it is sound enough to say that we need highly effective teachers of English.
We do need to look at the qualities of a good teacher of English. Through some informal brainstorming sessions with some of my colleagues, we agreed that an effective teacher of English is someone who possesses the "5 Is" consisting good imagination, interaction, innovation, independent or own thinking and interdependence imagination
It is notable that teachers who have good imaginative power will have lots of new ideas to break the monotonous environment and will be able to make students participate lively in class.
Albert Einstein says that “imagination is more important than knowledge. Human progress is possible only through education. Without imagination, education becomes a kind of intellectual recycling of the same knowledge passed from teacher to student and back to the teacher on the test.
"Education should do more than simply transmit information; it should develop skills, such as imagination, to evolve our knowledge and move us forward as a species.”
Educators who are creative and imaginative can teach anything, especially language aptitude. They can build up their students imaginative self-articulation. Educators who are imaginative investigate and create new things.
Students normally appreciate being guided by imaginative educators. Having an imaginative ability can do wonders for any class. An innovative teacher is one who is brave enough to try new things.
Innovativeness means to introduce changes and new ideas, daring to be different and being unique, going off the beaten track in order to be on the right track and experimenting with new things and being fresh always.
A teacher who doesn’t talk or who doesn’t promote interaction in class is not doing the right thing for their profession. A teacher needs to empower learners and help them develop their communication skills.
Teachers should motivate their students, create opportunities for them to interact with one another through "commutainment" (communication through entertainment) activities such as role-playing, group discussions, mock interviews, etc.
Students need to be independent to develop their independent thinking. Here, teachers can only provide assistance. Independent thinking is the process of being able to think on your own, without someone else guiding you.
Independent thinking means being critical of what you see and hear and questioning information and assumptions. An independent thinker normally helps a group of students develop the desire and ability to think on their own.
An independent thinker contributes a lot to the team. Normal language learning tasks should aim at developing students’ thinking skills. Besides independent thinking, we strongly advise interdependence, as it is essential for a successful person.
The stages from the dependent stage to an independent stage and then to an interdependent stage are very important for students. Interpersonal relationship is the key to success in today's competitive world.
As human beings, we do need to socialise. A person who has the capability to relate with others can be more successful compared to the quiet, restricted type.
Those who are interdependent utilise positive dialect and win individuals. They are courteous, charming, down-to-earth, enticing and effective.
An educator or linguistic teacher who is imaginative, innovative, interactive, independent and interdependent can be successful in the field and can lead students from a dependent stage to an independent stage and then to an interdependent stage.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.