ESL Learners Learning Content Subject in English: What do the Malaysian First Cohort Students Say?

By Souba Rethinasamy, Kee Man Chuah and Mohd. Hafizan Hashim.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Throughout the world English language has become an important language of academic instruction. Thus, the teaching and learning of a content subject in English is not a unique phenomenon in various parts of the world. In Malaysia, English for the Teaching of Mathematics and Science (ETeMS) policy was implemented in 2003. This has received and is still receiving various reactions particularly from politicians, parents, language experts and policy makers. This study employed a survey research design and investigated the views of the 600 students who have completed all 6 years of primary education under the ETeMS policy. Four aspects of the students’ views namely, views on personal ability in English, learning Science in English, importance of learning Science in English and language medium preference were covered in the questionnaire items. The findings show that the majority of the students viewed their English language ability as good, had positive views about learning Science in English, very aware of the importance of learning Science in English and preferred to learn Science in English only and bilingually in the Malay language and English. The paper highlights the need to listen to the students’ voice and recommends the way forward for addressing English medium instruction issues.

Keywords: English Medium Instruction (EMI), Content Based Learning (CBL), ESL Learners

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 7, pp.353-366. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 901.959KB).

Associate Professor Dr Souba Rethinasamy

Associate Professor, Centre for Language Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia

Dr. Souba Rethinasamy has a PhD in Language Testing and Evaluation. She also holds an education degree with double major in Biology and English, and masters in English as a Second Language. Her research interests include English as the medium of academic instruction and language testing.

Kee Man Chuah

English language Teacher, Centre for Language Studies, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia

Chuah Kee Man holds a bachelor’s degree in TESL and a master’s degree in Cognitive Sciences (majoring in learning sciences) from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. His research interests include the integration of ICT in language learning, instructional science and language teaching methodology.

Mohd. Hafizan Hashim

Lecturer, Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia

Mohd. Hafizan Hashim holds a TESL degree from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. He is a tutor at the Faculty of Cognitive Sciences and Human Development. He is currently pursuing a masters degree in Learning Sciences at Northwestern Unviersity, USA. His research interests include learning engagement, instructional technology and English language teaching.


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