“If this is what is being taught to our children in schools, it’s a joke.”

Malaysia is a multi-lingual nation. Our national language is Malay, but English, Mandarin, and Tamil are also frequently spoken. It's common for a Malaysian to be able to fluently speak at the very least, two languages, Malay and English, while our Chinese and Indian communities can also speak their mother tongue. Due to the nature of our nation's language profile, people have for years debated on the use of English in our public schools. Primary and secondary education is conducted in Malay, but many believe we should teach certain subjects in English, such as science and maths. The reason being that these subjects have a lot of jargon and terminology which, when translated, not only sound weird, but also somewhat comical. In addition, tertiary education in the country is conducted in English, so it would only make sense for primary and secondary students to learn subjects like science in English. Our government has flip-flopped on this issue a few times, first changing from teaching science and maths in Malay to English, then back to Malay a few years later.

It's hard to appreciate just how bad some of these translations are if you don't understand Malay, but believe me, these translations are terrible. This is the kind of thing which makes me believe that English should be used in schools. I myself am a graduate of biomedical science, and it's just impossible for me to write a scientific paper in Malay. There's just no good way to translate some terminologies, and I'm sure people in other lines of work feel the same way. I fear the kids will have a difficult time transitioning from primary and secondary school into tertiary education if they continue to be taught science, maths, and other technical subjects in Malay. As it stands, the current level of English proficiency in the country is already appalling, and I don't see it getting better any time soon.

If you live in a multi-lingual country, how is education conducted in your schools? Are there any such concerns with English proficiency in your country?