Child-Friendly Schools And Quality Education: Creating A Favourable Language Learning Environment


Globalisation and internationalisation has invited us to re-examine our notions of how the English language fi ts into the broader world and how it should be learnt. Learning the English language, we will agree, transcends beyond learning and knowing mere grammar rules or complex vocabulary.It now entails the ability to use the language to communicate ideas, thoughts and view points, to read,comprehend, manage and disseminate new information from various sources using new technologies.

Being cognizant of such requirements for English language learning, there is a pressing need to create an immersive language-rich learning environment in schools that will encourage students to engage and participate effectively in English language learning.

In this immersive language-rich learning environment language learners are provided with a space to practice using the target language naturally and get acquainted to the language as it is spoken in the real world with little or no inhibition.This organic form of language use is essentially the crux of the Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) and what the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) hopes to achieve.

The HIP, conceived under the MBMMBI policy is an English language initiative by the Ministry of Education Malaysia, aimed at creating a highly immersive English language-rich learning environment in schools. Introduced in 2016 in 1,200 schools, the HIP has now been extended to all primary and Globalisation and internationalisation has invited us to re-examine our notions of how the English language fits into the broader world and how it should be learnt. Learning the English language, we will agree, transcends beyond learning and knowing mere grammar rules or complex vocabulary.It now entails the ability to use the language to communicate ideas, thoughts and view points, to read,comprehend, manage and disseminate new information from various sources using new technologies.secondary schools nationwide.

Language learning requires active participation, interaction and exposure to the language. HIP encourages and supports students’engagement and participation in the English language both in and out of the class through a variety of language-based activities that allow the students to learn and use the language in a creative and fun manner.

Some of these activities include story telling, peer reading, public speaking, choral speaking, debates,singing, playing language games,poetry recitation, showing and tell,drama and theatre and many more.These activities are an ideal way to develop confidence in language use and raise fluency in the language.Activities such as songs, drama and story telling provide learners with anon-threatening and stress-free way to speak in the language, creating a milieu that supports students’creativity and imagination.

HIP provides students with a highly immersive, English language rich environment where they can practice the language in their own time and at their own pace. HIP schools are also encouraged to setup self-access speaking corners,reading corners, word gardens,language huts and many more spaces where an array of activities are prepared by teachers suited to student needs and their varying levels of different students.

Students access these activities during their free-time. The creation of these spaces within the schools surround the students with rich language input and exposure. It is also a way to encourage shy and reluctant speakers to experiment with the language without the fear making mistakes and feeling shy.

However, it is important that such self-access activities be accompanied with a simple monitoring system which can capture students’ participation and performance.

HIP also encourages community involvement in students’ language learning experience through the sharing of expertise and providing support to schools in organising language activities. Such community-school partnerships are a means to enhance students motivation to learn the English language and to build the connection between school and real world learning.

With the right amount of support,effort and motivation from school leaders, teachers, parents and the community HIP activities provide an effective way for us to help our students’ reach the competency in the English language that we aspire.

 

• NOTE: Dr. Kalminderjit is the Work Stream Leader for the Highly Immersive Programme (HIP), Ministry of Education Malaysia.