Why many pupils fail at maths, science in English

PETALING JAYA, 10 Sept 2019: 

The latest proposal to use video recordings by good teachers to foster English language usage in Malaysian public schools – especially for mathematics and science – may sound like a good way out to address the local shortage of teachers fluent in English.

But an experienced tutor feels this plan misses key aspects of a classroom teacher’s role in educating the young.

“As the focal point for all lessons, how is the classroom teacher going to successfully follow through on lessons and exercises after the video is finished?” asked John Kumar, 53, who has been tutoring for over 20 years.

“If these teachers aren’t fluent in English, chances are they may end up misleading pupils. This is one problem which arose the last time these subjects were taught in English some years ago in Malaysian schools.”

To avoid getting trapped in this quandary, Kumar advised parents to be more involved in their children’s studies or at worst, hire tutors like him to better prepare the kids for classroom lessons.

“Many parents have the wrong idea about classroom learning, which is actually a good educational environment for both picking up knowledge and social interaction skills.

“Teaching your child how to do well in the classroom will help prepare them for the longer term life journey, when they eventually go to college or university, then into the work environment.”

Kumar said his tutoring method draws upon the college level learning process, where the student has to be more independent. “This means reading up on lessons a day or a week before the topic is taught in class, so the child understand the classroom lesson better and be able to participate in teacher-student interactions.”

Another critical aspect will be revisions after the classroom lesson, which many don’t do – except for homework – resulting in too shallow knowledge of prior topics and eventually leading to failures in exams, he noted.

“Teachers need to remember their responsibilities to students don’t end in the classroom. They’re building on foundations of those who taught these students before them and preparing them for future teachers.”

That’s why Kumar says he focuses on tutoring foundation years of forms one to three and IGCSE years 7 to 9 – because young minds can still be moulded well at this stage to be better prepared for what comes next.

“I teach only mathematics and science as the terminology is very similar whether in English or Malay. This gives students a lot of comfort, many of those I tutor come from Bahasa Malaysia medium government schools who have switched to the IGCSE syllabus with a view of eventually attending colleges or universities abroad.”

Home tutoring mainly within the Petaling Jaya area, Kumar’s fees are around RM150 per hour and he isn’t bothered by much cheaper rates offered at tuition centres which have mushroomed here.

“Their focus is on doing repetitive exercises fashioned on passing specific exams. Many of my past students eventually realised they could cope well enough on their own using my learning methods.”

Kumar says he’s ready to take on more students – especially those looking to do well with the IGCSE syllabus – he can be contacted at 0376100054 or [email protected].