It is quite a new topic for me to comment on. But a recent experience has prompted me to share about this. About PPSMI (the teaching and learning of science and math in english).
To begin, I welcome the decision to discard the PPSMI.
Before, I always heard how students, especially those from rural areas suffer to learn science and math in english, since their proficiency in english is super low! I heard from my teachers, from my mum (who is a teacher) and also from media (which includes Youtube and blogs). Almost all comments are negative (except comment by chedet in his blog. Hurm..)
However, my personal experience being a part-time teacher in a secondary school reaffirms all the stories I heard.
It all started when I was assigned to replace a Form 2 science teacher who just gave birth to 2 cute twin boys. And the students were about to start with Dynamics – Understanding Force. So I taught them the topic.
“Tell me one type of force,” I said at a high pitch. (note that I was in class 2J)
I approached a boy, and demanded an answer. He opened his textbook, and confidently said,
I was stunned.
The boy did not even understand my question, neither did he understand what is written in the textbook. What he did was just to read anything he saw in the book. Apparently, he was referring to an experiment about friction, which listed eraser as one of the apparatus.
The problem is not only about them not understanding the lesson in school. Worse, they cannot even study themselves. All books are in English, and they do not understand it.
Let us now focus on increasing the students’ understanding of Science, as well as English, by empowering the way we teach the particular subjects. Not by asking them to learn English and Science at the same time.
At least, if their English is bad, they still understand something in Science.
p/s: the school I teach is in Sg Buloh, which is an urban area. I wonder what experience PPSMI teachers in rural areas have.