Diverse opportunities

STUDYING the Bachelor of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language (B. Ed in TESL (Hons)) does not necessarily mean one is geared up to improve his or her language skills. Nor is it solely a pathway to be a teacher who teaches the language in a national school here in Malaysia.

HELP University Department of Language Head Dr Hannah Pillay defused these notions based on the curriculum provided by the university for this course.

“Not all students who take up this course will end up as teachers,” she said. “I have a student who wanted to be a journalist but did not want to study journalism as he thought it was a ‘narrow course’, and opted to take up TESL instead.”

Hannah said the B. Ed in TESL course in HELP University, which up to date has about 75 students, provides a broad range of subjects in its three-year course – including creative writing, theatre arts and linguistics.

“There is a lot to do once one graduates from the course,” she said in an interview with theSun.

Hannah, who has been in the teaching industry for about 35 years in Malaysia and Singapore, noted that graduating from B. Ed in TESL does not mean one would only be qualified to teach English Language in the national schools here.

“You have the opportunity to do a lot of things. There are internationals schools here in Malaysia, which have both foreign and local students. If you are able to teach well in English, you are able to teach in these schools,” she said.

“Sometimes, students and even teachers themselves, do not realise when is the time to use standard English and colloquial English – which is being used in a formal working environment or in a coffee shop – what are the proper terms that need to be used,” she said.

Hannah noted that the internet has influenced the way English is used by people – where some people think it is okay to use the informal use of the language through instant messaging and social media can also be used in writing in a business context or to a client.

“It is important to know which phrases and terminology can be used in a certain setting,” she added. Hannah also said that HELP aims to make its students employable in the market.

“We want them to be employable – like how to make a first impression, how to dress, what to do during an interview and the soft skills needed in presenting one’s self. All this is to distinguish the graduate among other candidates,” she said.

Aside from excelling in the educational side, Hannah said students in the course are encouraged to be involved with social programmes.

“We have a literacy project in Jinjang Utara, where the students would help teach children living in the longhouses there,” she said.

Noting that while it is important to achieve academic grades, Hannah said that HELP also ensures its students are able to develop other skills to contribute to the society.

She expressed hope that through these out-of-classes activities and involvement with social works, students would be able to not only work in teams but also to lead teams in their workplace.

“To mature as a person, one needs to get involved with the society and not just think about me, myself and I. There are a lot of unfortunate people in society, what can we do about it?” she asked.