Thinker Belle

As thoughts grow in time

Mathematics and Science Learning. English or Malay?

First and foremost I would like to declare that this is strictly my opinion based on my past experiences and it has nothing to do with whatever political stand. I find myself unable to ignore it anymore when I saw all the different comments on various social networking sites. Like here and here.

Okay, let me start.

To be honest, I really hate the fact that this issue kept being circulated over and over again. For me, I have to say that I really agree with the government decision that they would teach Science and Maths in English at schools. I still remember my transition from primary school to secondary school. I learned Math and Science in Bahasa in primary school. Then I started to learn in English when I started my secondary school education which was in Form 1. At first, I got to say that the changes really gets the best of me. Some words and terms sounded so unfamiliar so it took some time for me to get accustomed with it. It was annoying in some ways, but little did I know back then how much it benefits me in years to come.

Some might argue that learning in English would become a burden to students who lived outside of the city. It is undeniable that it would definitely take a lot of hard work to some students but comparing that kind of hard work which started at early age is much better than making them struggle with it once they started university education. And stop saying how much learning Math and Science in English makes the students feels inferior and not confident. That is nonsense. Honestly, who wouldn't feel overwhelmed and embarrassed when they are worse than their peers? Instead of making it an excuse and run away, how about turning it to be a source of motivation? 

And all those craps about how differences in family incomes and way of life could be a setback to poor students. Just because your family doesn't know how to speak English, that doesn't mean you too have to reject it out of your life. The purpose of studying and learning is to raise your status and capabilities. If having poor family really stops us from marching forward, there won't be articles about successful people we usually came across on newspaper and magazines. There are a lot of successful Malaysian out there who started from the bottom too. The difference between them and some of us is that they don't give excuses.

A lot of my seniors that doesn't get to learn Science and Math in English in school complained how lucky we are to start learning it earlier than they were. They learned Math and Science in Malay when they were in school but have to quickly catch up to the universal terms which are usually in English once they started university. The reason is simple, because most reference books are in English. They also told me how much I should appreciate the fact that I'm already familiar with English terms. I won't have to spend unnecessary time flipping between English references and dictionaries, and I could use those hours to actually try to understand the content itself.

My next argument is on how some people started to compare how much the Japanese or Koreans could be very successful even though most of them are not very good in English. First, the Japanese. Lets us be honest. The way most Japanese act and live and they way most Malaysian act and live are just too different to even compare ourselves with them. Their discipline in life are just enviable. That one trait is an advantage to them when it comes to work. One more thing, most of the educated and skilled people in Japan does know English but they choose not to use it in daily life. They use their English to gather up as much skill and knowledge so that they could use it to educate their people. The thing now is, our mentality is not the same. It's not that I'm trying to downgrade my fellow countryman because even I myself can't deny that I can't catch up to the Japanese way. My aunt once told me, she used to work in a factory owned by the Japanese in Malaysia. They have a weekly assembly that usually take about two hours each time and all of the employees without any regard to their age, status or post have to stand up through out the ceremony. Even the person that holds the highest position have to stand up just the same. 

But in Malaysia, we are all too used to the American/ British way more. When we don't even practice even half the lifestyle the Japanese does, what makes you think that we could actually survived globalization without proper preparation? Therefore, in order to make up that one difference, we have to be better at something more than they are. The fastest, quickest path that has the highest chance for us to conquer is English. You can deny it but its obvious that the usage of the language in our country has become normal everywhere. You have to take job interviews in English. Why? Because most companies have overseas branches, and shareholders that want their employees to have a good grasp of English language. Even when you go to shopping complexes or brand shops, they use English.

Yes, it is kind of disappointing how much we have became in ignoring our mother tongue. Bahasa Melayu has such beautiful words and elegance to it. I also feel that we've become too used to using English nowadays. If we really want to be like the Japanese, practicing our daily life using our language, the need to really be good in English is important. So that people outside wouldn't say that we are all trying to give excuse. That we are actually bad in English and that is the reason why we want to speak in Bahasa instead. 
As for the South Korean people, their government actually spent a lot in English education. They even hire English teachers from English speaking countries, for example Canada. These teachers are hired to start teaching English in schools and kindergartens. To say it simply, they do learn English and understand it as well. The problem there is, the teaching there is more exam oriented that they feel a little uncomfortable speaking it.

That is why I really think learning Math and Science in English is crucial. Not only because the scientific terms are more associated with English, but the usage will also help to boost students' English vocabulary and confidence in using it. I don't think excuses like "..using English in Math and Science makes the students becomes unfamiliar with Bahasa Melayu." is legit enough. Even by teaching Math and Science in English, students still use Bahasa in learning other subjects like Geography, History, Pendidikan Islam etc

The reason why I emphasize the need to restore Math and Science teachings in English is not because I'm pro English. As a matter of fact, Bahasa Melayu and Sejarah are my most favourite subject until now (and I really don't fancy Add Math and Physics). My Bahasa Melayu teachers in high school has given me such a good impression that makes me misses their teachings once in awhile. What could be better than writing 'karangan' and learning 'komsas and novel'? And 'debat Bahasa Melayu' is still my favourite thing. I used to finish the novels we were supposed to learn in the first week of each school year. What I'm trying to say here, sometimes what you need to do might be contradicting with your own passion and opinion. But if its actually for the better good, I don't see why it have to be such an issue.

Now let us see this from another angle which is my real life.

Up until Form 3, I still have problem in reading some English novels or trying to catch the words in English songs or even during watching movies. I need subtitles for movies and I merely listened to songs just because I like the music arrangements. But now, I rather watch English movies or series without subtitles because it's fun and challenging. My parent doesn't practice speaking English at home at all. My dad is more passionate in using Bahasa Melayu than anyone I know in my family. He used to say (in Malay of course) " can learn English and be good at it, but in my home, I want to hear you speak in Bahasa Melayu". My late grandfather practice Silat and he used to write Malay songs as hobby. One of his famous composition is the song popularized by Anita Sarawak, Lodeh Mak Lodeh. What I'm trying is I was brought up by my closest family to love my roots, I grew up singing along to Malay songs, and my love in learning Bahasa Melayu enabled me to be a part Pesta Pantun Perak competition when I was in MRSM. But I never use that excuse to not want learn English because I don't like it or because it's out of my league.

Now, I'm majoring in Data Communication and Networking in UiTM. While my most favourite subject is Sejarah (which is more related to Law course), my course is far too different from it. What I learned till now are mostly related to technical things which is my Achilles heels (remember how I mentioned that Maths and Physics are my weakest subject?). I struggle almost everyday in lectures because the technical terms are just overwhelming. Thankfully, I already have a good grasp of English language. It helps a lot when it comes to reading all those thick geeky books in the library.

This is why I feel, learning Mathematics and Science in English in school has far more benefits and has nothing to do with us keeping close to our roots and mother tongue.

Lastly, I would like to emphasize again. I am in no way an expert or in any way saying that you have to agree to everything I say. I'm writing this as a normal 22 years old university student, who enjoys almost the same thing as people of my age. I love Super Junior (read: obsessed) and a hardcore Harry Potter fan, I love reading novels and I get nagged by my parents when my grades drops. I share crazy stories with my best friends and talk about our crushes. I am in no way above average or genius. I fight with my brothers a lot and I get sad and depressed at times. I've lived my life similarly like most of Malaysian youngsters,teenagers and young adults facing things most people my age would.

 I've faced the same conflicts and problem and share the same unending worries about my future. If anything, I think at least my opinion is legit enough to represents some of the thoughts the people my age have. Because truthfully we all have started to get a little too tired with all the political dramas that as been going on. And all we could see is pure hatred and nothing good coming out of it. We might be the future, but if the past and present that is shaping us keep making an unacceptable mould, we would turn out exactly like what we have been taught about.

I wrote this in English to show you one more fact. Even with me agreeing with learning Science and Math in English,I bet you could see that I still make tons of grammatical error, and wrong sentence structuring in my writing. I could never imagine how bad I would be if I haven't been exposed to English since early age. I might struggle even more when I took MUET for university and I probably won't have the same confidence to interact with my long distance friends on internet. Thanks to English, I've met many wonderful people that shares same passion with me even though some of us live halfway across the globe from each other.

And please, make a firm decision, cause I hate to see my little brother struggling with all these changes, changing back and forth between learning in Malay and English while all I can do is watch. I can't even help him because I learned all the terms in English, and I have no idea what are those Mathematical terms in Malay actually stands for. That is quite frustrating.

 Students are not your experiment target. At least have some respect towards them as you would to people your age. And seriously, can't you stop fighting like cats and dogs over every issue? (Yes, I'm talking about Malaysian politicians) All I learned from you guys all these times are vulgar terms, back stabbing and all of those things in between. 

Even through my inexperienced eyes, I could see that most of you politicians (left or right) wanted comfort and success for yourselves and to show your opinion are the best and that you're always right. I don't even want to touch on what I saw and read during the last General Election. I'm pretty sure there will be people who will think who I am to write all these when I'm nothing yet in life? I would tell you something, there is no one and no body in this world should be treated like that, because we usually learn things at the most unexpected place. I don't want to be rude and thoughtless, but to act superior just because you're experienced is not a proper way to be a good role model.

That's all and thank you for reading my long rants. 


  1. Wah panjangnya entri ni @_@
    Pasal matematik dgn sains? Dulu kat sekolah tak minat langsung matematik. Hihihi

  2. samalah tak minat math gak. tapi kena try minat sebab course ada kaitan sikit. haha


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