JOHOR BAHRU: Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah has called for concerted efforts to create more opportunities for young people to study the English Language and take their place on the world stage.
She said serious and urgent intervention was needed because of the “dramatic and drastic” decline in the proficiency of both written and spoken English among younger Malaysians in general.
“We should not rely on the government entirely to reverse this trend. We need English teachers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporate entities to band together to take proactive action,” she said in a statement which was released by the Royal Press Office here yesterday.
Raja Zarith Sofiah, who is also the Royal Patron of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA), also urged all parties concerned to continue to motivate and inspire students to speak and write in English.
”It can be done…English can still become the language of knowledge and communication among Malaysians.
“My dream is to see young Malaysians pursue their education at world-class universities like Harvard or Oxford and go on to become chief executive officers of global companies. To achieve such goals, they need to learn the English language,” she stressed.
Raja Zarith Sofiah pointed out that in schools nowadays, students were afraid to speak the language for fear of being mocked for trying to be a “Mat Salleh”.
“The perception is that if you don’t speak Bahasa Melayu, you are not proud of being Malaysian. So, they retreat and don’t speak English,” she said, adding that more emphasis should be given to English language classes in schools.
Raja Zarith Sofiah pointed out that many Malaysians, having mastered English, have made the nation proud by holding distinguished academic or corporate positions abroad.
“We have lost more than a generation of people who simply have no confidence to write or speak in English. But it is not too late. There is still hope. Let us work with the policymakers to help reverse this trend,” she said.