Analysing English Language In Malaysia English Language Essay


This research examines the function of the English linguistic communication in Malaysia, a former British settlement in South East Asia from the 18th to the twentieth century. My research inquiry asks: to what extent can English be a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia? In order to near the issue, the inquiry has been narrowed down into two parts: English can be a consolidative linguistic communication of Malaysia ; and English can non be a consolidative linguistic communication of Malaysia. The influence of English in the lives of Malaysians such as day-to-day life, workplace and instruction has been examined.

There is a duality in positions whether English can go a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia. One side believes that English has already become an of import portion of Malayan individuality, peculiarly due to its colonial yesteryear and its current position of one of the linguistic communications of direction in primary, secondary and third instruction and besides the position of “ concern linguistic communication ” . There is another position, chiefly held by the Malay patriots, opposed to such sentiments due to the fact that there is a immense spread in the English linguistic communication proficiency between people from the urban and rural countries. Three interviews have been conducted as portion of the methods of probe, but the most influential interviewee was Ram Mohann, an English instructor in a Malayan secondary school. Books, intelligence articles and academic diaries have been used every bit good. The chief beginnings for this research are written by Malayan professors of linguistics, Azirah Hashim and Loga Baskaran.

It is concluded that English can be a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia. The decision drawn is based on the fact that English plays an of import function in the lives of Malaysians, private sectors and instruction in Malaysia. Most significantly, English is besides regarded as a linguistic communication that integrates all Malaysians by the non-Malays. Word count: 298


Malaya ( now Malaysia ) was a state that had been occupied by European world powers such as the Portuguese, Dutch and the British since the sixteenth century. However, the 1s that truly made a lingual influence on the land were the British. Even though they left and granted independency to Malaya in 1957, one bequest that they have left the state is their linguistic communication, English.

English had been the official linguistic communication of the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States and the Unfederated Malay States since the 1800s during the business of Great Britain and besides served as the official linguistic communication of Malaysia for a decennary after the state ‘s independency in 1957. However, in order to advance “ national integrity ” and increase the engagement of Bumiputra ( Malay-ethnic and autochthonal people ) in third instruction, the Malayan authorities removed English from its official function and promoted the usage of Bahasa Malaysia ( Malayan or Malay linguistic communication ) in 1967.[ 1 ]

However, English remains a dominant 2nd linguistic communication in Malaysia. It is still widely used in private companies. For the last two decennaries, the position of English has been “ a much debated-upon and jostled-about issue ” .[ 2 ]In this essay, I will look into the function of English in Malaysia today. My research inquiry is as follows ; to what extent can English be a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia? “ Consolidative linguistic communication ” must be defined in order to reply the inquiry. In this instance, “ consolidative linguistic communication ” refers to the linguistic communication that joins the people of Malaysia as a whole. I will discourse how English is used in many facets of Malayan lives in order to reply my research inquiry. Furthermore, the linguistic communication of direction in Malaysia will besides function as a springboard to look into the function of English in Malaysia.

Even though English is no longer an official linguistic communication in Malaysia and hence some might reason that Malaysia is non an Anglophone state, the widespread use of English in Malaysia is a fact that is beyond any inquiry. English is a concern linguistic communication and a common linguistic communication used among ordinary Malaysians, peculiarly in urban countries. Furthermore, it is widely known that “ many of the older coevals [ in Malaysia ] speak [ English ] really good. ”[ 3 ]Some elites even argue that English and Malay play an every bit of import function “ to assist unify the people and make a alone national consciousness ” .[ 4 ]English “ is used for a assortment of maps in professional and societal minutess non merely with the international community but besides within the society ” .[ 5 ]In add-on, even though all English-medium schools had been changed to Malay-medium schools in the 1980s, the execution of PPSMI ( learning and larning Science and Math in English ) policy in all Malayan public schools since Primary One indicates that the authorities is non merely refering about the globalization of the state, but besides with the importance of the linguistic communication in Malaysia herself.[ 6 ]Hence, the usage of English as a local linguistic communication in Malaysia instead than an international linguistic communication is adequate to do Malaysia an ‘unofficial ‘ Anglophone state.

English can be a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia

English linguistic communication is the planetary tongue franca, a linguistic communication for diplomatic negotiations and international trade. Work forces with good bid of English will set the state a immense advantage in the universe.

Harmonizing to Braj Kachru ‘s three-circle theoretical account of World Englishes that categorises World Englishes into three homocentric circles, which include Inner Circle stand foring the traditional base of English ; Outer Circle that stand foring states where English is non an official linguistic communication but plays an of import function ; and Expanding Circle, including states that employ it as a foreign linguistic communication and for merely limited intents, Malaysia is listed under the Outer Circle.[ 7 ]This theoretical account indicates that there are a ample sum of people who use English as a first linguistic communication. Harmonizing to Azirah Hashim, a Professor of Linguistics in University of Malaya, English “ is used for a assortment of maps in professional and societal minutess non merely with the international community but besides within the society ” .[ 8 ]The quotation mark tells us that Malaysians do non merely utilize it as an international linguistic communication, but some perceive English as a local linguistic communication every bit good.

Hashim ‘s position is non her ain desirous thought. It is apparent everyplace in Malaysia, in both the Malayan instruction and lives of Malaysia citizens. ‘Broken English ‘ is really normally used by cab drivers, prosaic peddlers, nutrient peddlers, nurserymans, garbologists, florists and nutrient caterers.[ 9 ]For case, phrases such as ‘Buy 1 Free 1 ‘ or ‘RM 5 for 2 ‘ are ever seeable in Malaysia ‘s local supermarkets, departmental shops and pasar malam, a Malay word for ‘night market ‘ . It indicates that even for those who are non extremely educated, they all have the enthusiasm to talk English because “ the grade of international integrating is merely traveling in springs and bounds and man-on-the-street has to last. ”[ 10 ]Most significantly, it shows that “ English is deriving more currency ” within Malayan society, particularly in urban countries.[ 11 ]

After the PPSMI policy was implemented in 2003, the determination was described by some journalists as “ resuscitate the glorification of the linguistic communication ” and “ reclaim English in instruction ” , which “ seems to touch to acknowledgment of English as non merely a planetary or international linguistic communication, non merely a European linguistic communication, but besides as a Malayan linguistic communication ” .[ 12 ]Furthermore, even though there are n’t any official statistics available, it is known that there are ample Numberss of English private kindergartens in Malaysia, peculiarly in urban countries. For non-English medium privately-owned kindergartens, English is ever taught as one of the topics apart from their female parent lingua. Harmonizing to a Malayan Indian who is merely willing to be identified as Subramaniam, “ My kids are all analyzing in English-medium kindergarten because I know merely a good bid of English will take them to success and I want them to construct their foundation since they are immature. ”[ 13 ]This remark reflects the fact that the Malayan parents are cognizant of the importance of English in today ‘s universe every bit good as Malayan society itself and they know that a good bid of English will set their kids in a better place in today ‘s universe. In add-on, English is by and large taught 280 proceedingss per hebdomad in public schools[ 14 ], which is even more than the instruction clip for the senior category in Xiamen International School, an English-medium and IB World school. It must be noted that in Malayan instruction, all high school pupils in public schools are required to larn English literature and English comprehension, instead than beginner English category. If the instruction clip of English in a bilingual instruction is even more than an English-medium school, it indicates that English plays an every bit of import function for both Ministry of Education of Malaysia every bit good as an IB World school. However, it must besides be noted that the degree of English comprehension and/or literature might be lower than that of IB Diploma class, and therefore the statistics do non bespeak everything.

Harmonizing to a well-known Malayan Indian journalist and politician, the late MGG Pillai, “ those who know English are better positioned for occupations than those without ” .[ 15 ]That was his remark regards the importance of English in his article written in 1994. His appraisal was right topographic point on in today ‘s universe. In major companies in Malaysia, the lone linguistic communication used in a company meeting is English.[ 16 ]Meanwhile, some meetings in governmental sections are conducted in English every bit good, but largely depending on the linguistic communication preferred by the caput of the section.[ 17 ]Reports such as one-year studies or fiscal studies are either in English or in both English and Malay. For illustration, Malaysia Airlines, the national bearer of Malaysia, presents its fiscal studies to their staff merely in English[ 18 ]. Meanwhile, it is known that “ the linguistic communication a flight attender will utilize is English ” , even for domestic flights although the national linguistic communication is Malay.[ 19 ]When a pilot or copilot announces the latest information about the flight, English is ever preferred for both domestic and international flights. If private companies prefer English and English linguistic communication is besides widely used in governmental sections although Malay is supposed to be the linguistic communication of direction, it tells us that English does play an every bit of import function in today ‘s Malaysia. Furthermore, “ English is no longer seen as a competitory advantage but a basic demand for jobseekers ” .[ 20 ]In 2005, the Malayan authorities conducted a study of about 60,000 Malayan alumnuss who were unemployed. It was besides revealed in the study that “ 81 per cent of the unemployed attended public universities where the medium of direction in many classs is in Malay. ”[ 21 ]Furthermore, harmonizing to the senior adviser of Alpha Platform Sdn Bhd, a Malayan full service communicating house, “ Many of the [ alumnuss ] are rejected five proceedingss into an interview due to their flagitious bid of [ English ] . ”[ 22 ]Those illustrations show that Malaysians with deficiency of proficiency in English will be at a serious disadvantage in Malayan society. It besides suggests that English is bit by bit replacing Malay ‘s prominence in Malaysia, particularly in private sectors.

In add-on, English is besides really common in the lives of ordinary people in Malaysia. For case, “ no English linguistic communication amusement import is of all time dubbed ” and local telecasting channels in Malaysia “ screen a broad assortment of English sketchs, seriess, play and movies in original linguistic communication ” with Malay subtitles merely.[ 23 ]There are ample Numberss of local English magazines and newspapers such as Flavours, Football Weekly, the Star, New Strait Times, Business Times, the Sun, Motor Trader, Golf Malaysia, BPL and many others. Furthermore, there are many well-known foreign magazines such as Timess, Reader ‘s Digest, PC Magazine, and Newsweek on sale all over Malaysia. The Numberss of English newspapers all over Malaysia is precisely the same as that of Malay linguistic communication.[ 24 ]Several foreign publishing houses even publish their ain magazines in ‘Malaysian version ‘ in English linguistic communication such as FourFour Two and Top Gear from United Kingdom.[ 25 ]In add-on, English books have dominated the two largest bookshop ironss in Malaysia, MPH Bookstore and Popular Bookstore. An English instructor, Ram Mohann, claimed that “ Popular bookshop has about 65 % of English books while English books about dominate MPH bookshops in Malaya with around 90 % ” by mentioning internal beginnings.[ 26 ]Those different statistics and information do bespeak that there is a large market for English readers in Malaysia.[ 27 ]However, it must be stressed that Mohann is merely a instructor, non a market profession and his internal beginnings might non be really dependable either. However, it is ever known by Malaysians the laterality of English books in that either of those two bookshops or other bookshops is a fact that is beyond any uncertainty.

On 9th July 2009, the Ministry of Education announced that the PPSMI policy will be abandoned get downing 2012 by mentioning the per centum of pupils who achieved A to C for scientific discipline “ had fallen by around 4 % in both urban and rural schools ” . Basically the upset of the policy means that all science-based and math topics in Malayan public schools will be returning back to Malay for authorities schools, Chinese for Chinese schools and Tamil for Tamil schools. The reversal of the policy has caused as much arguments as the 1s when the policy was foremost implemented in 2003. For case, Azimah Abdul Rahim, the president of Parents Action Group for Education ( PAGE ) , questioned the reversal of the authorities on behalf of all parents by stating the newsman that “ there might be some schools which would desire to go on learning in English. I think there should be a pick. There are many Malaysians whose first linguistic communication is English ” .[ 28 ]In add-on, Lim Kit Siang, a outstanding resistance leader in Malayan political relations, described the determination as a “ Natural Deal go forthing Malaysia stranded in the March towards planetary educational quality, excellence and fight ”[ 29 ]. Furthermore, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia who was known for his Malay patriotism and the leader who, surprisingly, introduced the PPSMI policy under his disposal, posted a canvass regards the PPSMI abolition and the consequence shows that “ 84 per cent want to retain English as the linguistic communication medium for these topics ” .[ 30 ]Mahathir besides inquiries “ how [ the reversal of PPSMI ] is traveling to assist incorporate Malaysians ” ,[ 31 ]which implies that English is non merely a medium of direction for scientific discipline and math and concern linguistic communication in Malaysia, but at the same clip a linguistic communication that should assist unite all Malaysians as a whole. However, it must be stressed that his position might be subjective as Lim is a leader from resistance party and the fact he was educated under English medium. Furthermore, as Mahathir references in his web log, the consequence of the canvass might be slightly subjective as good since it “ was conducted in the English linguistic communication and English linguistic communication talkers might be biased in favor of English ” .[ 32 ]However, the positions collected, which represent the parents and politicians, have emphasized the fact that a batch Malaysians believe that it will be hard for their kids to last in the hereafter with deficiency of proficiency in English and besides reflected the fact that English talkers and the linguistic communication itself do play an of import function in the today and future society of Malaysia.

English can non be a consolidative linguistic communication of Malaya

While there is no uncertainty about the importance of English in private sectors in Malaysia, it must be stressed that Malay has been the exclusive official linguistic communication of Malaysia since 1970 and the usage of this linguistic communication in assorted sectors is encouraged under the National Language Act.[ 33 ]The Malay patriots are peculiarly against the increasing prominence of English in Malaysia, particularly in instruction. This strong feeling had been shown by the Malay-ethnic people in a protest against the usage of English in March 2009, which finally caused the reversal of PPSMI policy.[ 34 ]

Supporters of PPSMI ever use Singapore, the neighbouring state that one time was portion of Malaysia, “ as an illustration of how linguistic communication accomplishments can be a cardinal to a linking local workers and industries to planetary economic system ” .[ 35 ]However, the reversal of PPSMI could finally sabotage the function of English in Malaysia today and the hereafter because the pupils will hold less chance to utilize the linguistic communication in category in the hereafter. Therefore, for the following coevals, alternatively of English, there is a possibility that Malay might go the linguistic communication that is traveling to be widely used among professionals. Harmonizing to Muhyiddin Yassin, the curate of instruction Malaysia, , “ merely 8 % of instructors were utilizing English entirely in categories while the usage of [ Malay linguistic communication ] was still common, peculiarly in rural countries ”[ 36 ]Muhyiddin ‘s concern reveals several jobs in Malayan instruction today – the spread between pupils from urban and rural countries and the deficiency of proficiency in English among Malayan local instructors. Harmonizing to Dr. Nor Hashimah Jalauddin, a professor in National University of Malaysia ‘s School of Language and Linguistics, “ pupils in urban countries adjusted better to the PPSMI compared with pupils in rural countries ”[ 37 ]and that English is considered a “ foreign linguistic communication ” and “ 3rd linguistic communication ” for pupils in Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terrengganu, Kedah and Perlis.[ 38 ]She is convinced that larning Math and Science in English is a “ load ” for pupils due to their deficiency of proficiency in English. In fact, it is non merely a load for pupils, even “ the Malayan instructors traveling huffy learning topics in English ”[ 39 ]because “ most Math and Science instructors in service were trained under the National Language Policy ” , which the linguistic communication of direction is Malay.[ 40 ]Harmonizing to Dr Khalil Idham Lim Abdullah, “ while [ the instructors ] are still coping with the linguistic communication, they are required to learn their pupils as good ” .[ 41 ]This claim is supported by Mohann every bit good, there are “ 75 % of [ Science and Math instructors ] were trained in Malay ” and that “ there is barely a large betterment [ in English for instructors ] since [ 2003 ] ” .[ 42 ]Even though the statistics given merely refers to one peculiar school, it does propose that there are a big figure of instructors who ca n’t utilize English fluently. If the instructors ca n’t even talk fluid English, how can we anticipate the pupils to develop their linguistic communication accomplishment significantly and hence how is linguistic communication traveling to go the consolidative linguistic communication?

Even though English plays an of import function in Malaysia ‘s society today, the sum of English talkers is instead limited. Harmonizing to David Crystal, the entire figure of English as First Language talkers in Malaysia was 1.88 % by 1994 while the figure fell by 0.16 % nine old ages subsequently. Meanwhile, the entire figure of L1 and L2 talkers merely rose from 31.9 % to 33.2 % within nine old ages and the rise is instead little every bit good.[ 43 ]44The statistics indicate that there are really few fluent talkers Malaysia and therefore English is decidedly non a linguistic communication that is understood by all Malaysians. ‘Unifying linguistic communication ‘ should be the linguistic communication that unites the whole state and if English is non by and large understood by all Malaysia citizens, how can it be the consolidative linguistic communication of the state?

The biggest job that might endanger the position of English in Malaysia is the fact that English is a colonial bequest left by the British and it is apparent that the Malayans have been seeking to pass over off the memory of colonialism. For case, even though the Malayan authorities merely removed English ‘s official function by 1967, ten old ages after independency, and removed all English-medium schools merely by 1972, the English ‘s elitist position in instruction and disposal had been instantly “ downgraded ” in 1957.[ 45 ]They find it difficult “ in accepting that English could be an ingredient in Malayan national individuality, in malice of its usage in cultural state of affairss in Malaysia at present ” .[ 46 ]Alternatively, they believe “ Malay is for national individuality and English is for advancement and for wider communicating ” , which implies the Malays believe that English should be used for globalization and internationalization instead than a local linguistic communication.[ 47 ]Therefore, as Tan suggests, the fact that Malaysia is categorised under the Outer Circle means that “ it is more appropriate to speak about [ the function of English in Malaysia in ] single communities or subdivisions of society instead than the whole state ” .[ 48 ]


English is an of import linguistic communication in both the yesteryear and current society of Malaysia. Competence in English as a mandatory status for employees in most private sectors and some governmental sections has emphasized the increasing prominence of English in the state. Furthermore, the execution of PPSMI policy in 2003 has significantly increased the use of English among the new coevals, particularly those who are adolescents now and will go the future anchor of the state. While the execution of PPSMI policy indicates that fact the authorities is concerned about the importance of English in the state, the arguments among professionals and ordinary Malaysians regards the reversal of the policy besides reveals how important the linguistic communication is for the people. In add-on, the laterality of English books and magazines in bookshops of Malaysia indicates that there is a immense market for English books in Malaysia.

However, some Malaysians, peculiarly the Malays, believe the lone linguistic communication that can unite all Malaysians is the Malay linguistic communication. The deficiency of qualified instructors with fluid English is a ground why English is non a consolidative linguistic communication. Meanwhile, the inequality of English proficiency between pupils from urban countries and rural countries proves that English is non normally understood by all Malaysians and hence it will non make national integrity. Besides the proficiency of the instructors and pupils, the instead low per centum of English talkers besides reveals the same job in doing English the consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia.

All in all, even though this issue is still instead problematic, the decision drawn is that English can be a consolidative linguistic communication in Malaysia to some extent. English plays an of import function in the lives of ordinary Malaysians, private sectors and instruction in Malaysia. However, the use of Malay linguistic communication is encouraged in public sectors. The upset of PPSMI policy in July 2009 has put the position of English in the state into uncertainty. Furthermore, Malays believe their linguistic communication should be “ the tool to unify the whole state ”[ 49 ]but the Indians and/or Chinese believe Malay linguistic communication will make division among all Malaysians. They believe that we should emulate the theoretical account of Singapore since English is a “ impersonal linguistic communication ” between all the different ethnicities as it does non place any of the races in Malaysia and therefore it will make an equal society.[ 50 ]

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