I’ve previously posted about Rwanda’s education language switch from French to English, and now interestingly it appears that Malaysia is phasing out teaching of English in certain classes.

Despite the headline of this article, reading the full text reveals that Malaysian authorities are not fully getting rid of English language teaching, only in maths and science classes. There is a school of thought that says that foreign languages can be learned in conjunction with another subject, but this experiment seems to suggest otherwise, as this professor argues.

Education minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last Wednesday that the English-medium education policy introduced across the country in 2003, known as PPSMI, would be phased out from 2012. He said that evidence gathered during a year-long assessment and public consultation had convinced the government that PPSMI wasn’t working, and that the dominance of English in the curriculum risked undermining students’ grasp of their first language.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a complete failure but it has not achieved the desired objectives that it was supposed to achieve,” Muhyiddin told a press conference.

“The government is convinced that science and maths need to be taught in a language that will be easily understood by students, which is Bahasa Malay in national schools, Mandarin in Chinese schools and Tamil in Tamil schools.”

Interestingly, this change has become a political issue, which highlights the importance of languages to all.