MANY letters have been written, making a big deal of bad English among Malaysians in response to the letter, "Don't make too big a deal of bad English" (NST, April 12).
The letter, "Try hard to be the best" (NST, April 16), has condemned substandard English when communicating in speech and writing. Promoting and striving to be the best in the English language is an ideal aspiration if there is a real need for the language in the country.
A majority of people in Malaysia can live and work without any real need for a high standard of the English language. Many of us can communicate and carry on with our lives with a smattering of English.
Why is there the emphasis for British English? There is no need to be better than the native speakers. Native speakers never complain about our English competency. It is only Malaysians who make a big deal of our English.
The Education Ministry is reinventing the English curriculum and reinforcing the teaching of English in primary schools by introducing and emphasising the standard British English language of using phonics and native like spoken language.
A minority of the people may have to use the language to communicate with the outside world, not necessarily with Britain. Why then do we need to strive for standard received pronunciation or the queen's English when it is no longer spoken even in Britain?
Because of the emergence of English as a global language there are varieties of "the English languages" that have been developed in the English speaking world. The new "Englishes" show remarkable variety in their sounds, spelling, grammar and vocabulary.
Furthermore, how do you expect to achieve correct English among our pupils when English is taught as only a single subject. How are the students to reinforce their English learning without having other subjects taught in the language?
The Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English policy was a good platform for pupils to improve a their English. However, the policy has been rescinded.
And then there have been numerous complaints about the competency of our English language teachers who came from a system post-1970s, when the status of English language was relegated to a single subject in schools.
Therefore, with all these factors working against the students, it is grossly unfair to demand that they strive for perfection and excellence in English language. Let us not be too caught up with standards and accuracy or many will not be interested in learning the language.