Teacher Difficulties in Teaching Esl in Malaysia

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English plays a vital role around the global. As the regard of English usage in a universal form, English is placed as second language in most of the countries around the world. English is widely learned as a second language and used as an official language of the European Union and many Commonwealth countries, as well as in many world organizations. It is the third most natively spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It is the most widely spoken language across the world. English is now widely taught in almost every country. When it comes to teaching and learning a language, it is not always easy to achieve the goal. Almost every country that emphasis on the teaching and learning of English language as a second language or foreign language find it challenging to achieve 100% masteries in English. In Malaysia, we also face that challenge; there are various factors that contribute to the low level of masteries in this particular language. However, here we will focus on the difficulties faced by teachers in teaching English as a second language and how we can tackle these difficulties in considering the factors of the urban and rural areas schools. We will also try to consider the issue of hiring foreign English educators’ help to tackle these difficulties.

In a country like Malaysia, most of the teaching-learning process is exam-oriented. Every efforts is done to make sure the students pass in the exam either it is at the Primary School Assessment Test (Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah, or UPSR), Lower Secondary Assessment (Penilaian Menegah Rendah, or PMR), Lower Certificate of Education (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, or SPM) or Malaysian Higher School Certificate (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia, or STPM) level. Teaching and learning of English language as a second language receive the impact from this issue. Teachers prepare students to meet the needs of examination instead of preparing them for life-long language skills.

Teachers find it difficult to sustain genuine interest in continuing to learn English, which is important in allowing students to use the English language once the examinations are over. The famous proverb "Don't give your students fish, but teach them how to fish" is perhaps true in language teaching. But how do we go about teaching them the language skills so that they become more interested in learning the language? This is the question that teachers ask themselves. Teachers are found drilling the students with continuous grammatical exercises especially at the primary school level. One of the reason is that teacher tend to use the behaviorist approach in language teaching and adopt the Audio-lingual Method (ALM) or Direct Method which spotlight on forms and accuracy of the students’ output or performance. Thus, students lack speaking and listening skills and are good in reading and writing skill which allow students to excel in tests and examinations but when they use the language in oral communication, many of them face problems.

Regard to the above issue, teacher also find it difficult to use various types of methods in teaching English such as, Suggestopedia, Community Language Learning, Natural Approach, Total Physical Reponses and Communicative method. In rural areas, teacher have limited or no access to resources that can provide materials or teaching aids to be used in order for them to use these methods. Currently, Ministry of Education had increases the duration of classes in one week from 200 minutes to 280 minutes per week. For example, if a teacher want to use the method Suggestopedia, she or he can use their background knowledge to work out a lesson plan but continuing this for the next classes which are about four times in a week (assuming one class 80 minutes), this is definitely give a maximum burden for a teacher to prepare a very effective lesson plan. Apart from that, in some rural areas, teachers do not have the access to...
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