UPM Department of Language and Humanities senior lecturer Dr Lilliati Ismail said some undergraduates are proficient in English because they come from an English-speaking background and may have been exposed to the language from young while others may have limited access to resources in English. University of Malaya UM Language and Literacy Education Department senior lecturer Dr Zuwati Hasim said undergraduates should show initiative such as organise activities at residential colleges and take part in student mobility programmes at English-speaking countries.
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The lower in proficiency at entry level, the higher the need for fundamental language knowledge and skills. Most often students who are at this level require a rich and extensive input of the language as well as extended opportunities for language use.
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Foundation English caters for the beginner where general linguistic knowledge and general English proficiency skills are given focus. As the entry requirement for MUET Band 3 is not mandatory at most public universities, it is thus incumbent on them to provide training for students to attain the said level before they can go on to academic English.
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MUET Band 1 and Band 2 levels are for the extremely limited user and limited user respectively while Band 3 level is for the modest user. Those who have achieved Band 3 learn English for Academic Purposes to prepare for reading at the tertiary level. Students in their second year or third semester at university learn English for Workplace Communication. Presentation skills are also given focus but not extensively. Depending on the university, two to three credit hours are allocated for this basic level per semester. The formal structure of the English language curriculum at the university is limited to the three categories and exposes students to only 80 to hours of English per semester throughout the three years at university.
Nevertheless, in an effort to provide additional exposure and opportunities for language use, the Language Centres, which are responsible for English language proficiency at university, do provide students the chance to experience English in action beyond the classroom and in collaboration with the faculties. At UKM, English enrichment programmes are conducted beyond the formal structure through English camps, role-play immersion programmes such as Bravehearts, and English-speaking zones at residential colleges where debates and drama play-acting are held.
However, these programmes are not compulsory. Arshad said as the university expects its students to have a basic command of the English language, the modules focus on reading, writing and oral presentation skills. We plan to also introduce higher level English language courses such as Critical Reading and Creative Writing for more proficient students so that they can hone their abilities in the language.
Hence, language use is more meaningful and students will want to use good and correct language.
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Lilliati added that UPM has a stringent selection process to ensure that undergraduates are proficient in the English language. The lecturer should create modules in class that attract students to learn the language in a fun way. There is no one best approach to teach the language as the lecturers are free to design their lesson plans.
As their courses progress, students will be taught to read, write and communicate in their specialised fields of study. Hazita said in dealing with English language proficiency, the relevant ministries and agencies should put in place an English language education plan that is comprehensive and inclusive to ensure there is a continuum from school to the tertiary level and right up to the employer. The responsibility for helping the young generation to master the English language should not be confined to the school and university but should also be borne by the employing agencies.
This empowering approach will see all stakeholders collaborating rather than putting the blame unfairly on the school and university. Zuwati said the university should provide a support system for tertiary students to learn not only general English but also the language used in theses and dissertations. We believe that you signed up to take this course, because you are a person who is ready and willing to learn.
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You will reach your goals with English if you are:. If you faithfully practice what we suggest, you will begin to notice an improvement in your English. This is the first thing you do when learning a new language — and it is essential to good speaking ability.
Are you surprised? Well, how did you learn to speak your own first language? When you were a baby, did your parents sit down with you and begin to explain the basics of grammar in your native language? Did they try to teach you to read or write when you were still crawling around on the floor? Sometimes you listened passively, and sometimes you listened with conscious effort, paying attention to the sounds, rhythms and patterns of speech that were all around you, and trying to understand. The important thing is, you were immersed in your language — in other words it was all around you.
You were like a fish swimming in water. For a couple of years, you continued to listen. Then, eventually, probably somewhere around the age of 2 you started to speak.
Everyone got very excited of course, including you - but remember - by that time, you had been listening for a very long time! First you listened; then you spoke.
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Let me tell you a story. As it happens, they were also good friends. In his book Nurtured By Love, Shinichi Suzuki explains how he came to understand how people learn language. He was a violin teacher, and he began to use this method of language learning to teach young children 3 and 4 years old! First, he let them listen to a particular piece of music for several weeks. Then, after a while, they were able to play the piece themselves — without knowing how to read music yet.
It makes sense, right? First we listen, then we speak, then we read, and then we write. Your speaking ability both fluency and pronunciation will improve if you will listen, listen, listen.
Make no mistake — you can improve your English this way no matter what level of English you are at right now: whether you are an absolute beginner or at a much higher level. So, there we have it! And the great thing about listening is you can practice it just about anywhere!
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