In 2011, in a drive to improve early English literacy throughout Malaysia, the Ministry of Education introduced a new English curriculum for five-to-ten-year-olds. Through the English Language Teacher Development Project we have supported the roll-out of this fresh approach and trained teachers in adopting this new form of ‘communicative teaching’. Due to the success the project, the Ministry of Education has approved an extension until 2015.
The project’s primary goal was to improve the effectiveness of 1,200 teachers based in 600 rural schools. So far 120 mentors have been employed across the country to support teachers as they learn to independently discover, investigate and address their own teaching needs.
Unlike traditional training packages and materials, this fully immersive and self-directed approach creates greater impact with longer-lasting results. This is because the learning is more relevant to the individual teacher and his or her own circumstances. Longer term, reflective teaching is a habit that educators develop and improve upon over time.
English language proficiency has greatly improved over a two-year period. When measured against the internationally recognised Common European Framework of Reference for languages, the majority of teachers are able to demonstrate they have moved up a level, from a baseline of levels B1 and B2 to levels B2 and C1.
To date, over 150,000 pupils have benefited from their teachers’ improved level of speaking and teaching in English. Educators have also become more confident in their teaching styles and in their ability to truly engage young learners.
Importantly, teachers are now working collaboratively to find solutions to their own challenges. Tangible improvements are also being made to the teaching and learning strategies in the classroom. This is due to the project’s immersive and self-directed approach.
‘For Malaysia I can safely say that this project is one of a kind. So many countries now are planning to emulate the same framework and the same process.’
Malaysian Ministry of Education official
‘I am working on how to train students to be independent learners – I got this idea from my mentor. So almost every lesson I get (pupils) to do work in pairs and groups and do the work themselves.’
Malaysian primary teacher