Mastering English not ‘betrayal’ of race, national language, Hannah Yeoh tells youth

By October 7, 2019 Fulbright News
The deputy minister said, ‘The most empowering thing that we can tell our girls is to pick up a universal language like English.’ — Picture by Choo Choy May
The deputy minister said, ‘The most empowering thing that we can tell our girls is to pick up a universal language like English.’ — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — Malaysians, especially the younger generation, must discard the mentality that learning English is a betrayal to their race and national language, says Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Hannah Yeoh.

Advising Malaysian youngsters to always remind themselves that they must not feel bad about mastering the English language, she stressed that one could only master a language if they practiced it.

“I get accused of betraying my race when I speak Bahasa Malaysia or when I wear baju kurung. We put labels on so many Malaysians. We should just focus on learning and be empowered with the language that you are comfortable with, as learning is a lifelong process,” she said after officiating the National Women’s Empowerment Camp by the United States (US) Embassy here today.

The camp under the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme, has been a joint collaboration between the Malaysian and US governments since 2012, aimed at increasing the use of the English language among Malaysian students, and empowering rural communities.

A total of 100 female students from seven states (Perak, Melaka, Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Sabah, Sarawak) in Malaysia participated in the four-day camp which started yesterday.

“This event is fun and it gives us a lot more exposure to English, and I really love it because ETA teachers give us a lot of encouragement. So with the ETA, they can give students a boost,” said Nur Adawiatul Najwa Mazuannizam, 16, one of the participants from SM Pekan, Pahang.

Her schoolmate, Nur Adawiatul Najwa, who has been fascinated by the English language since young, opined that the camp was informative and exposed her to a new experience of learning English with American graduates.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, who was also present, expressed the importance of Malaysian pupils mastering the English language as it could benefit them in the future.

“Through this programme, it can open up opportunities to young people and young students minds, on why the English language is useful, and how it will allow them to do many more things in their lives.

“This is a people-to-people programme between the US and Malaysia, and it has given impact to 292,000 students who were involved in the programme since its establishment in 2012,” she said. — Bernama

* Extracted from The Malay Mail – www.malaymail.com