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Malaysia raises bar for ELT teachers

All 70,000 English language teachers working in Malaysia will have to pass the Cambridge Placement Test within two years it was announced by the Ministry of Education earlier last month.

PM Najib Tun Abdul Razak (left) with deputy PM, Muhyiddin Yassin at the launch of the Education Development Plan in Kuala Lumpur last month

It is hoped the move will produce more globally competitive students

It is hoped the move will transform the education system in the country to produce more globally competitive students. The government has set a goal to make 70% of students in Malaysia proficient in English by 2025.

“English language is a reality,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. “It’s not a zero sum game but an asset if we can speak English well.”

The government has allocated an additional RM500 million (£100m) in its 2013 budget to revamp teaching skills in core subjects, English included.

Teachers who do not meet the English proficiency requirements this year will go through an intensive eight-week immersion programme and eight-week self-learning course in 2013, which will provide 480 hours of lessons.

The government has set a target of 70% of students achieving proficiency by 2025

They will be evaluated at the end of next year and those who still do not meet the minimum competency standards will have to make improvements by 2015.

To achieve the target of 70% proficiency mark the government is also improving English language training at primary school and introducing English literature into secondary school syllabi. “English literature can help improve proficiency in the language and students can start with an abridged version of Shakespeare,” said Razak.

The Malaysia International Conference on English Language Teaching (MICELT), recently endorsed by the Ministry of Education, will provide further support to teachers. Its ninth annual conference this month will focus “on building the capacity of English language teachers here in Malaysia – an extremely vital factor in our education system today,” said spokesperson Sean Chee.

Last month Cambridge ESOL announced its partnership with computer-based testing provider ATA Online Education Technology, to expand it’s reach in China and other parts of Asia.

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