SERIAN: The government’s efforts to encourage more Sarawakians to master English risk being hampered by the current trend of using simplified forms of the language among smartphone users.
According to Minister of Youth and Sports and Solidarity Dato Sri Michael Manyin, many smartphone users – especially the youngsters – tend to disregard proper spelling and grammar when communicating in English on social media, especially via WhatsApp.
He feared that such habit might lead to these individuals not being able to write and converse in proper English in real life.
“I think it is making our command of English worse (than what we expect it to be). Words are spelled in short forms and there’s no emphasis on tenses and grammar. Actually, this can make the command of English among our boys and girls to become poorer and poorer, if they continued to follow this trend.
“Therefore, I advise you to write in full sentences, and use correct English when posting something (on social media). This is how you should learn to master English,” he said in opening the ‘Curriculum and Co-Curriculum Carnival’ at SMK Taee near here on Friday night.
Earlier Manyin, who is Tebedu assemblyman, spoke about the current situation in Malaysia where 400,000 graduates were still unemployed as a result of their poor command of English, which affected their job marketability.
Citing news report’s quote of former Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Prof Ghauth Jasmon, Manyin said more than 80 per cent of these unemployed graduates were Bumiputeras from rural areas.
He stressed that if steps were not taken to arrest this problem, the number of unemployed graduates could rise.
“I hope schools and parents would now make serious efforts to emphasise the importance of mastering English to the younger generation,” he said.
On another note, Manyin said parents should encourage their children develop sports talents and artistic skills in addition to achieving good academic results at school.
He highlighted national diving queen Pandelela Rinong – a Bidayuh from Kampung Jugan in Bau – as an example of a successful Sarawakian making good money from having a career in sports.
“My ministry will implement programmes to identity potential in schoolchildren beginning from primary level, and to train them in the hope to find the next Pandelela Rinong or sports star,” he said.
On another subject, the minister said in wanting to see more students from Serian to succeed, he was also concerned about rising cases of teenage pregnancy in the division.
He then called on community leaders and parents to work together in identifying the root of this social problem and consequently, coming up with ways to address and prevent it from occurring again.