Thursday, 10 March 2005

Impooving our England Through Tee-Wee

I know I'd just posted about learning a lot of stuff from TV and movies a few days back, but this news story is just too ridiculous not to post about.

Star Online: Watch more TV to learn English

Now this is just plain silly. Wouldn't it be better to encourage kids to READ more rather than spend even MORE time staring at the idiot box?

At least this ex-HM has it right:

Star Online: Ex-HM: Make time for reading in class

I may have learnt a lot from TV and Optimus Prime, but my English was 100% from reading, since an early age. My parents would ration our TV time to one hour a day (which I spent on back-to-back Transformers and M.A.S.K. episodes at 5pm everyday), and they would either chase me out of the house to play with my friends, or just ask me to read.

They would rather buy books for me than toys (which explains why I had to play Transformers with my Legos instead), and I spent more time reading than I did playing anyway.

I DO think that Malaysians HAVE benefited from the English programs on TV to a certain extent. After all, compared to countries like Japan, Thailand and Poland, where English programs are dubbed in the respective country's national language, at least a majority of Malaysians DO understand a smattering of English, most of which is probably gleaned off watching English programs on TV.

The level of English is still nothing to shout about, mind you, probably just enough for foreigners to ask directions, I think, but it's better than nothing. I always tell my foreign friends that if they come to Malaysia, they should have no problem talking in English, because even the roadside hawkers and cobblers would know what you are talking about.

Now try ordering an egg from a roadside stall in Poland without knowing any Polish, and without flapping your arms and pretending to lay an egg.

Much as I'm proud that we still have English programs on Malaysian TV, I still don't think it's sufficient to IMPROVE the level of English in Malaysia. For THAT, we'd need to go deeper than mere moving images on a square box, and venture into the dark depths of the education policies, and politics.

And I'm not touching THAT with a 60-foot remote control.

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