Teaching English in Asia

Being Malay, my personal experience tells me that most Asian educational institutions are still obsessed with the colonial mindset of preferring or loving native speakers as teachers of English. Having said that, of course, with hesitation, I would also admit that a native’s knowledge of the English language is not an automatic passport for employment anywhere abroad, but people from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the USA. And the whole of the UK obviously has a better chance, when they come face to face with another equally qualified candidate, if not better, say from Malaysia, to get a job teaching English.

Malaysia was a former British colony. We are also members of the Commonwealth. English is taught in schools that start from primary to upper secondary, and continue through tertiary level, to obtain the first degree, the master’s degree and the doctorate in the subject itself. English is the second language of the country and is widely spoken in all parts of the country, in addition to the native Malay language. The majority of our crème de la crème is educated at prestigious institutions in the UK and the US, which is comfortably conformed to the demands of the language, being the Lingua franca of the world. For a population of less than 30 million, Malaysia has some of the best English-language newspapers and tabloids in Southeast Asia, circulating to a wide range of readers. In addition to the current flourishing of the news media, there are more and more local news portals written in English that serve all strata of global society, regardless of local or international.

In the judicial development of the country since independence in 1957, being a former British colony, this was the catalyst for its policy planners to consider and emulate British Common Law, which became the laws of the country. The Government of Malaysia recognizes only a handful of institutions in the UK, Australia, Singapore (affiliated with the University of London) and New Zealand, where degrees offered by these institutions are accepted as the only degrees allowed to practice law in court. from Malaysia. I am a product of the same brilliant British-based Malaysian education system, so why did I go wrong to be denied, even for an interview for an English teaching job in Japan, once? Ironically, I have been successfully practicing my trade for the past eight years outside of Malaysia, previously working at an international school in Surabaya in Java, and now in Medan, North Sumatera. Both international schools operate under the education curriculum of Singapore, another former British colony and member of the Commonwealth. The composition of these two schools is mainly made up of students from wealthy backgrounds, including some of their siblings and parents educated abroad. Most of the students mentioned above embark on a journey to obtain levels O ‘and A’ before continuing their tertiary education in countries of their own choice. Preferred destinations are the US, UK, Australia, and Singapore.

A simple click on Wikipedia will reveal that Singapore’s education system has been described as a “world leader” and in 2010 it was chosen for praise by conservative former UK Education Secretary Michael Gove. The Singapore government spends about 20 percent of the annual national budget on education. An education group called Pearson had carried out a study comparing measurable things like grades and ranking different countries based on the success of their education system.

Key findings reported for 2015/16 indicated that most East Asian countries had the best education system in the world. These nations continue to outperform others. South Korea tops the ranking, followed by Japan (second), Singapore (third) and Hong Kong (fourth). My key focus here is Singapore, a nation born of independence from its colonial masters, following the separation of a brief period of association with Malaysia. Despite the extraordinary economic growth achieved by this island nation, there is not much that favors preferential treatment towards Singapore at the expense of Malaysia. Both countries have more or less the same racial diversification, the same potpourri of cultures, traditions and religions. Even the education system is based on the same British system, adjusted, fine-tuned to cater for the respective local consumption of the two countries and to meet the criteria established in their respective national education plans and philosophy. If I can penetrate the Singapore education system with my degree from Malaysia, especially to get a job as an English teacher in these institutions, wouldn’t it be hyperbolic to say that these two countries are very far apart in terms of their education? policies and achievements? Japan is in second place, just one rank above Singapore and I was denied for not being a native speaker.

Does the native accent replace the non-native substance? Does the native accent replace non-native talent? Some educational institutions in a Southeast Asian country neighboring Malaysia even went to the extreme of hiring low-budget tourists, who on their trips, without options, turned to work to earn some extra money in order to continue their travels, such as a provisional measure. measure to fill the places for teachers of English. In fact, I understand that these are private schools and that they have the right to hire whoever they deem “fit” to be part of their organization. However, the same cannot be said for his clients, the students who I believe come from all walks of society.

There are many Asian countries that consider Asian faces unsuitable for teaching English. They are too subjected to the idea that only Westerners, regardless of their country of origin, will make good English teachers. This is politically incorrect, and the stereotypical conception that most Caucasians speak better English than Asians and therefore will make better teachers, should be addressed before the education sector is embroiled in a fight not to lose its a level playing field in the international arena. .