English in Malaysia, cont'd

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Mon Feb 7 14:18:07 UTC 2005

>>From the Malaysia Star,

The Star Online > Features

Thursday November 18, 2004
Give fresh graduates a chance
I write with reference to the views and comments expressed by Horrified
Accountant (Oct 29).

I beg to disagree with the views and comments expressed as I feel they are
somewhat biased and unfair to many of the so-called fresh graduates. Come
on, I am sure many of us were fresh graduates once, at least before the
commencement of employment. Putting fresh graduates (especially those in
the accountancy profession) to a technical work test may not necessarily
be the best yardstick although many accounting firms adopt this somewhat
traditional approach.

Allow me to share my personal experience. I still remember when I
graduated from university many years back, I was somewhat confused about
debit and credit (the basics!) until I started work. Only then was I able
to link my theoretical knowledge to my practical work experience. Within a
short span of time, I was able to excel through much perseverance.

Factoring this into our recruitment exercises, we adopt a policy that
considers that candidates may feel fear, get cold feet or be tongue-tied.
Surely, one cannot expect a fresh graduate to fully link theory with
practice. What is important is attitude. Knowledge and the English
language are secondary.

We have recruited many fresh graduates who may know nuts about the
accounting profession but at the end of the day, many, if not all, have
turned out to be stars. So, come on, Horrified Accountant, give these
fresh graduates a chance to excel instead of writing them off at first
glance just because they are afraid to speak or lack understanding of the
technical questions posed.

To fresh graduates, I say do not despair if any of these hard-to-please,
vexatious and fussy interviewers are unable to see the positive traits in
you. The loss is theirs. There is always a firm that will see the many
good traits in you, so cheer up!  Raymond Liew, Managing partner of Parker
Randall (Malaysia)

Teach our children phonetics

There are Malaysians who speak beautiful English, but there are also
Malaysians who make common mistakes when speaking, especially in not
acknowledging the differences between words beginning with th and t; or
dand b; and p,g and k, etc. Stressing the right syllables is also ignored.

It was reported in the Sunday Star (Nov 7) that Datuk John Lim Ewe Chuan,
one of the most successful Malaysian chartered accountants in England, had
difficulty communicating with the British when he first arrived in England
even though he was educated in English.

I dont think this is a unique case. I would say a lot of us have the same
problem, simply because we are not taught to speak or pronounce properly.
Even teachers of the English language have problems, let alone their
pupils. And we lack an environment of good English speakers. Consequently,
we have problems when we communicate with native speakers of English.

Phonetics is so basic and yet vital to the learning of pronunciation. It
should be introduced to primary schoolchildren. I just cannot understand
why English phonetics is never (and has never been) taught in Malaysian

English phonetics is taught in schools in other countries, and the Chinese
learn the correct pronunciation of Mandarin through the Chinese phonetics
(Hanyu pinyin). Can we Malaysians learn correct English pronunciation
without knowing English phonetics? If Malaysians wish to raise the
standard of spoken English, knowing English phonetics is a must. Perhaps
the Ministry of Education should look into this matter urgently.  K.L.
Chan, Ipoh


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