KEYNOTE TOPIC: Challenges in teaching and learning English in the 21st century: A Malaysian perspective
Internal and external challenges face Malaysian language teachers and learners constantly and have faced them over the years. One major challenge comes from within. Language policies have an enormous impact on language literacies. The flip flopping of language policies at the national level impacts on English language teaching and is a major challenge not only to language educationists but also to learners. Learners' orientations towards different languages can be affected by social, political and economic variables. Another major challenge comes from globalisation and the emergence of social media. Globalisation appears to have created a new kind of hybrid language. Moreover, due to social media our learners are constantly and continuously being exposed to varieties of language like code-switching, SMS abbreviated language and other such like discourse outside the classroom. Having limited time in the classroom, language teachers have to deal with and contest such learning. Furthermore, with globalisation, English has become a lingua franca. Are our graduates able to use English for employment, business and trade? This is another challenge that English language teachers face, given that Malay is the national language and medium of instruction and for many learners, English is not the second language but a foreign language. This paper will discuss these challenges and how educationists and learners attempt to surmount such seemingly insurmountable barriers to English language teaching and learning.
Professor Dr. Maya Khemlani David (Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, University of Malaya) received the Linguapax Award in 2007 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists, United Kingdom and an Honorary Member of the Foundation of Endangered Languages. As a sociolinguist, Dr. David has a special interest in discourse analysis, languages in Malaysian minority communities, and the role of language in establishing and maintaining national unity within and across cultures.
She is a Visiting Scholar, College for Women and also consultant (ELT) for Kinnaird College, both in Lahore, Pakistan. She also is Hon. Academic Consultant, London College of Clinical Hypnosis. She holds an Executive Diploma in Coaching and also in Counselling. Her publications include Malaysian Indian: Sociocultural Assimilation towards the Malay Majority (2012, Tanjung Malim, UPSI), Leadership Discourse of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad (2010, Shah Alam, UPENA ), Code-Switching in Malaysia ( 2009, Frankfurt, Peter Lang) and The Sindhis of Malaysia: A Sociolinguistic Account (2001, London, ASEAN), and her co-edited and edited publications are National Planning and Language Shifts in Malaysian Minority Communities: Speaking in Many Tongues(2011,IIAS/ICAS, University of Amsterdam Press), Politeness in Malaysian Family Talk (2008, Serdang: UPM), Language and Human Rights: Focus on Malaysia (2007, Serdang: UPM), Language and the Power of the Media (2006, Frankfurt, Peter Lang), Language Choices and Discourse of Malaysian Families: Case Studies of Families in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2006, Petaling Jaya, Strategic International and Research Development Centre), Teaching of English in Second and Foreign Language Settings: Focus on Malaysia (2004, Frankfurt, Peter Lang) and Developing Reading Skills (2002, Kuala Lumpur: Melta/Sasbadi).