Manyin (second right) presents a memento to Abang Johari. — Photo by Chimon Upon
KUCHING: Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong wants students in Sarawak to start speaking English without inhibition.
The Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research said young Sarawakians have to be first encouraged to speak the English language in order to improve proficiency.
“Do not worry about grammar or redundancy, we must start using the language first, gasak saja (just go ahead),” he said before Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg launched the Sarawak English Language Education Symposium (SELES) 2017 at a leading hotel here yesterday.
He opined that students in the state had to be willing to speak the language first before they could work on improving the standard of English.
The minister recently returned from a working visit to Germany said his delegation had no issue communicating with the Germans.
“Most of them (Germans) are trilingual and English is one of the languages they speak. We had no problem communicating,” pointed out Manyin.
He recalled an incident when he was visiting France while furthering studies in the United Kingdom in the 70s.
“I was in Paris and had to ask for direction. When I spoke English, the French did not want to respond. I was then told a secret, that I should use my own dialect.
“So I used my dialect and then the French whispered into my ear ‘Can you speak English?’. It shows that they were reluctant to speak English,” he said, adding that this is no longer the case these days.
Manyin stressed that English had emerged as the global language of trade and commerce as well as the language of science and diplomacy throughout the world.
According to him, English has official or special status in more than 75 countries and is spoken as first language by over 400 million people.
“Globally, about two billion people speak English and this number is increasing. Besides, three quarters of the world e-mails, telexes and cables are in English.
“More than 90 per cent of websites are created and written in English and over 80 per cent of the data stored in computers around the world are also in English,” he said.
He added that more than half the world’s technical and scientific publications were in English.
The European Union, which founded in 1993 and brought together 551 million people from 28 states with various ethnic languages and cultural identities, represented a good case to illustrate the unifying power of English, he asserted.
“One of the unifying factors has been the increase in the proficiency in English amongst the people from the different states in the union,” said Manyin.