English In Science & Mathematics


11 March UPDATE:
Was e-mailed by ASTRO AWANI for a phone interview between 8-9pm tonight. Talk about instant fame!! My voice will be live on Cable TV!!
9 March 09 UPDATE:
Finally managed to update my gallery. *SIGH*

Went to play badminton today.  Felt tired, but upon switching on the TV, got glued to the news about the protest on the teaching of Science & Mathematics in English (PPSMI) in KL.

Honestly.  WTF??

My personal view would be this sentence “Are these guys un-educated, crazy and so damn desperate?“.

From that sentence, you know where I stand.  I’m all for PPSMI!!

Frankly, I don’t care about statistics.  Never cared about the money I’d get because I’m in the system.  I’m not enjoying any allowance for teaching in English anyway.  If they took away the allowance for the teacher’s, I’d not care.


Because I see the benefit of PPSMI.

I remember how difficult it was for me to familiarize myself with Science & Maths terms in Uni. How I almost flunk every subject due to my inadequate knowledge of technical terms in English.  To say my English wasn’t good would be a lie, because I was the masterin English when I was still a student.  Some teachers called me ‘the walking dictionary‘ at some point, but still… it never helped me ‘that much’ in Uni.  I still found it difficult.

Before I proceed, please note that I’m not bragging about myself here.  I’m just stating the facts.

Anyway, look at the root of PPSMI.  It was introduced to help and prepare students furthering their studies, and compete in this difficult yet challenging world.  It was NEVER meant to take over Bahasa Malaysia (BM).  NEVER!!

I mean, look at BM, you still need to have a credit to get your SPM certificate.  Flunct Science and Maths, and you will still get your cert.  So, which is more important?

Yah..yah.. some say teacher’s are going mad teaching under the PPSMI programme.  Where is your proof?  I’ve been teaching Science, Maths, Biology and Electrical Engineering for 4 years… I don’t seem insane.  No one has come up to me and called me ‘crazy‘, but I’d say that the paperwork in PPSMI is what drives me ‘crazy.  Yup, the paper work.  Not teaching in English.  Nonetheless, I admit, I have difficulty using Scientific terms, and I blame the system which emphasis so much on BM when I was a student.  Crappy system!

and.. please don’t talk about rural students being left behind.  PLEASE.  Because I was a rural student.  My school was in the middle of no-where.  I’m talking for these rural students.. CONTINUE PPSMI.

I have to admit, I look down on those whom are impatient over PPSMI.  I honestly think those whom are against PPSMI never felt the hardship of looking up English technical terms in THICK HEAVY DICTIONARIES in UniversityHow it felt to translate every single word at least 3 times to BM, and creating a new sentence, so that you could understand what a particular technical sentence means.  I also think they are narrow minded as they are too protective of something which is not even in danger.

It’s weird to see how many educators and educated parents whom are actually for PPSMI.  Are these people whom oppose PPSMI, un-educated?  Uhh.. can’t be.  I see some ‘great names‘ in the opposing team. Weird.

All this fuss over PPSMI is NONSENSE!  PURE NONSENSE!

I’ve got a few suggestions to solve this teething problem.  Here goes:

Teach Science and Maths in English for those whom want it in English.  Those whom think otherwise, can go for BM/Chinese/Tamil lessons.  I would like to see how many student’s & parents opting for BM. Give student’s choice. Seriously.

Owh.. that’s my only suggestion… but yeah… In Malaysia, we complain so much.  So, I figure many will come out with so many crappy reason why it can’t be implemented.  Like cost too high.. not practical etc. etc.. Malaysia ma…

So, in Malaysia, we have to choose.  Science and Maths in English, OR Science and Maths in BM

Nah.. Choose!!!

For me.. IF it’s the latter.. then might as well hope that BM becomes a universal language… coz it’s just a retarded solution.

Lastly, I’d like to say
I use BM for interaction as it is the Malaysian language and I am Malaysian, but I need to be competitive in this world, so I need to be fluent in English.

For those impatient people.. remember.. “Rome was not built in a day“.  Why should you dismiss the effectiveness of PPSMI after simply just a few years?


  1. if government follow what they want, memang bodoh la…

    sorry la…
    for me, i prefer in english too…
    if they cakap yang tak pndai tu cannot follow..

    then, how about chinese?
    belaja eveything in english or BM…tetap jugak pandai…

    kalau rasa tak pandai english..
    then, go and learn…
    then you will pandai..

    tak perlu nak buat demo tak tentu pasal…
    hal kecik pun nak demo2…


    [Cyril Dason]
    Glad we are on the same page. hehehe.. and yeah.. What the hell is the need for a demo? Its becoming a culture.. and I don’t like it.

  2. eyh… my dad said…

    tukar jak pegi belajar in JAWI!!!

    mungkin diaorang akan puas hati then… hehe

    kalau drng worry guna english akan bwat malay hilang adat..

    why dulu2 guna english even in history subject..

    tapi masih juga my dad melayu/melanau..

    tak jadi orang putih pun… 😀

    itoo komen my DAD… 😀

    [Cyril Dason]
    He’s got a point there you know.. Cool!!

  3. maybe certain groups feel that they are disadvantaged scholastically if the playing field is in English. Malay is almost a dead language. we’ve been transliterating English words into language for years. i gave up on BM the first time I saw the word “signifikan”.

    for fields experiencing constant change and update (like maths and sciences) and considering that these changes and updates are usually made by English speaking fraternities, we’d be left behind. it’s not like our country contributed much in those disciplines at all.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Agree so much with you man!!

  4. katak bawah tempurung. apa nak buat? sikit sikit “complain” . Just because some Bumiputra students are not doing well in English, Science subjects hence the demo. Well said, Rome was not built in a day, i wonder if they even understand this..

    [Cyril Dason]
    Yalah.. we Malaysians complain way too much.. And that’s not including other sensitive topics!! hahha.. Rome was not built in one day!!

  5. Most of you are truly short-sighted and are not aware of the negative aspects of PPSMI. Frankly, even a three-year old knows that this is a stupid idea in a first place. You don’t learn a LANGUAGE in Science and Mathematics class, you do it in a LANGUAGE-BASED CLASS.

    As for the proof that PPSMI is nothing but negative, here is the proof:


    You can download the book “Mengapa Kami Bantah PPSMI?” at the following URL:


    So don’t be so quick to assume that those who protested are “uneducated” or have “nothing better to do”. I was one of the protesters and I can tell you that I am far from being “uneducated”.

    – MENJ

    [Cyril Dason]
    Well, we have our opinions.. and I am not saying you guys are uneducated. It’s a question… and as I said in my post that it wouldn’t be right to say you guys are un-educated because there is ‘great names’ in the other team. Anyway, thanks for saying those whom are for PPSMI as having a mind of a 3 year old.

    If you are a teacher, you’d know that PPSMI is not about teaching English in Maths & Science. Its about using English in M&S, or familiarizing the students on terms which are globally used in English. We NEVER teach English in our Science & Maths classes. That would be for the English teacher’s to do. What we do is explain to them in English about the lesson. Like let’s say our Digestive system. No spelling or English lesson is done. 😀

    Anyway, I visited both links you gave, and I have to say this.. the research is done based on the immediate effect of PPSMI. I’d put it this way, if you just changed into a new shoes, you’d need to time to be comfortable with it.. and the research is simply based on the immediate effect of PPSMI. Is that fair?

    Thanks for your comments 😀 Appreciate it.

  6. You know, i got tired of explaining this to many people. Many thought Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English = Teaching of English in Science and Mathematics.

    I have look at many research done by my lecturers, none proved that it is negative towards students’ achievements. And if you said you want to improve their Bahasa Melayu, then make sure BM is ready to be a language for science and maths.

    Check back with Dewan Bahasa dan pustaka, and you’ll realise 80% of the terms (so-called BM) for Science and Maths are translated from English. Students even get confused when you translate it into BM.

    So why need the trouble to do that when we have the choice to learn it in English from the beginning?

    [Cyril Dason]
    Words of wisdom from an English teacher!!! Agree on you 101% man..

  7. And yeah, the TIMSS 2007 is NOT ACCURATE!!

    It’s drawing data from only Form 2 students who have just received about 1 year of teaching of science and maths in English (in Form 1).

    The results would have shown otherwise if hey draw data from all forms!!

    That research is comparing students from 59 countries against US students! We all know that the system has been introduce less than 10 years, so it’s an unfair comparison when nothing much has changed in the US system.

    Compare the students performance in another 5 years time, then you can see tremendous results!

    [Cyril Dason]
    That’s just the thing. People prefer to protest blindly than to actually read the whole thing. Humans…

  8. Whatever it is those who went to the point of protesting showed how uncivilised they are even if they are educated. Luckily the trend is not seen happening on our side here yet because I can’t understand the culture there anymore… sikit sikit protest. Yeah…. i don’t understand…just do what they wanna do over there and don’t bring it here. I remember Sarawak was the last State to change to BM last time in 1986 or 1987…they can change if they want to, but we should keep our options open – sapa mau tukar, up to them… use it as an option. But then again I am not arguing on the lingo aspect….just surprised that the extent they push their demand that way… so how about if we form a group that supports English in S * M and push it down the policy makers throat like they did…. but heck we don’t becoz maybe those who are English oriented are a bit more civilised.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Agreed man. Lucky that all these ‘street demo’s thing’ does not spread to our shores. I really don’t agree with the culture of protesting and street demos, but yet, some find pride in it. *SHAKES HEAD*

  9. Nice words, DeeJay. Luckily Sarawak belum kena tempias politik murahan.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Hahaha.. Tempias politik murahan.. true.. true.. and we are not actually condemning party here, are we?? Just don’t like the fact everything go protest on the street..

  10. i totally agree with u dude.. and for chrissake, the ones they are interviewing on the news is profesor kajian bahasa and also sastrawan negara. with all due respect, i am not saying that they’re wrong. but it doesn’t mean they’re totally right either

    plus they’re forgetting the most crucial part in this: the students. Most of the students I asked said they don’t mind learning in English, they’re just frustrated because their teacher is too incompetent to teach in English.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Yeah… Agree with your first point, but your second.. It’s not all, but some.. 😀 and welcome!!

  11. Since English is THE international language. BM is always the national language and primary language, but how many people in this world interact in BM and studies in UNI in BM?

    I would opt for English in all subjects and BM as the language subject.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Hahaha.. all subjects? Well, it would be easier actually, ho?

  12. I also prefer those subject being teach in English. It would make it easier for the student who plan to continue their studies aboard. Plus, if we want to defeat the genius or all the popular philosopher, we need to know English well. So, it is not a major problem for me. BM will remains as our National Language. No big deal,right? Hee. 😀

    [Cyril Dason]
    Ahh… nice point there Tqahh.

  13. Hot topic! 😉 But I do agree PPSMI will lead those students to better future. Advise for the students, where there’s a WILL, there’s a WAY! Emm.. But there’s one issue i would like to mention here that some of the school teachers still don’t really understand the real concept of PPSMI that they take easy that subject and rather to focus only English lessons. This somehow only will make the students feel/think that PPSMI isn’t an important subject at all. :S

    [Cyril Dason]
    Yah.. it is a hot topic. All this while, I didn’t want to say much, but.. the street demo was the last string. I just can’t bear anymore looking at how people are so impatient over a good thing 🙁

  14. This topic was already in my draft, and about to publish it when I read your post. Should have save me the trouble hehe.

    I agree with having difficulty in my first and second year trying to translate all the technical terms. I could say I was lost, and I kept on cursing all those years I learned in BM and it seems furtile and wasted. Time was crucial, yet I was trying to relearn everything.

    When I started work, I had a difficulty talking in a complete sentence in English, because my uni environment did not make it easier for me. Luckily my colleagues (non-BM speaker) understand my problem and I pushed myself so hard. Looking back, I wished that I had a better command and vocab of English from the very beginning.

    Until today, I still carry the regret that I had gone through the math and science technical terms in BM during schools. Now that I forgot all of the technical terms in BM when I start to get use to BI terms, my spoken and written BM never deteriorate in any way, heck I can even produce a BM novel!

    [Cyril Dason]
    Ahh… EXACTLY!! I also have the same regret. If only I learned S&M in English. I might be better off now.

  15. Hi Cyril,

    I was about to talk about this in my blog too. Like Sumuk, u have save us a lot of trouble to write. Hahaha.. So I would just make my comment her.

    I saw the Interview with GMP few weeks ago, where A. Samad Said was invited to give his opinion. There were three of them but i can’t remember the other two.

    Well…I guess these people misunderstood the rationale behind teaching of Maths and Science in English. From the interview they said…

    “The teaching of Maths and Science is to IMPROVE the Mastery of English Language among students”

    That’s why they thought that BM is threatened as the national language.

    No…they are WRONG!. VERY WRONG!

    We use English so that our youngsters can survive when they study maths and science in university or when they go to international arena. We need to see the big picture that the world is communicating in English.

    Cyril, one of my friends who studied in uni. failed his maths paper just because he couldn’t understand maths in which was in English. The translation done by DBP just couldn’t reach out to the world’s maths.

    BM is still in our heart. But, on the other hand, I guess we must accept changes. I do not know why some people hardly accept changes.

    Regarding the school failures. Oh yes. People do fail in their studies. Going to school to get education is not easy. Students must learn to survive, which include to learn English. If students fail maths and science due to English, then they should work harder.

    I guess, that’s all la.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Yah.. by any means, we NEVER intend for BM to be replaced. We just want to have broader options when we actually enter Uni. BM will continue to be our lingua franca… but we need to be well versed in technical/scientific terms when in comes to English. Its just like kok said above “for fields experiencing constant change and update (like maths and sciences) and considering that these changes and updates are usually made by English speaking fraternities, we’d be left behind. it’s not like our country contributed much in those disciplines at all.”

  16. We all know who started the ‘protest’ culture. There wasnt any such thing before when the govt of the day wasnt overpopulated with rebellious packs. But that’s political crap talking. And now it’s catching on so fast that people even protest over a little thing such as teaching (and learning) maths and science in BI. WTF! It has INSECURITIES written all over it. Whoever gave the idea that teaching the subjects in BI will kill off the national language? What backward mindsets! Hey, it’s the students who r learning, not you guys! It’s the teachers who r teaching them. If anyone’s should protest, it’s them both. But give it a chance. Dont be so anti-development.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Ahhh.. You are right! You see.. Tqahh and Amiey both studied in BM, and so does Nikki.. and see their comments!! They all are for English.. and I can say I represent the educators.. and I am for English.. So why is everyone else whom is not connected ‘barking’? Weird!!

  17. What to expect from narrow minded citizens due to a past where BM was over emphasized? :/ The English language back then was hardly a priority.

    A mistake made dated way back in history.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Yah.. agreed… and thanks for dropping by Sam 😀

  18. I agree with you Cyril. WTF with this guys so desperate to switch teaching Science and Maths to BM again. Think of moneys that we have spent just by changing all these. Not only that we from the BM system that suddenly switch to BI to learn and teach had undergo suddenly go kaput! Guess who will be the victims of all this changes…yup teachers and students…why won’t they give it a changes to survive first…what a headache.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Okay.. if you think about the cost.. it is HUGE!!! No doubt. And yup, victims are always the poor teachers 😀 and the students. Agree man!! Thanks for dropping by also!!

  19. Has anyone thought that it is the “language imperialism” of English that has caused this problem!

    I live in London and if anyone says to me “everyone speaks English” my answer is “Listen and look around you”. If people in London do not speak English then the whole question of a global language is completely open.

    The promulgation of English as the world’s “lingua franca” is impractical and linguistically undemocratic. I say this as a native English speaker!

    Impractical because communication should be for all and not only for an educational or political elite. That is how English is used internationally at the moment.

    Undemocratic because minority languages are under attack worldwide due to the encroachment of majority ethnic languages. Even Mandarin Chinese is attempting to dominate as well. The long-term solution must be found and a non-national language, which places all ethnic languages on an equal footing is essential.

    An interesting video can be seen at http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU Professor Piron was a former translator with the United Nations

    A glimpse of the global language,Esperanto, can be seen at http://www.lernu.net

    [Cyril Dason]
    Thanks for your opinion Brian. Anyway, the thing is, we are not trying to eliminate our national language. We just want Science & Maths to be taught in the English because it would benefit our younger generation. Using our national language, which is Bahasa Malaysia will cause serious difficulty when our students further their studies to higher levels because they have to re-adapt and re-learn everything in English.

  20. hey dude…

    yea.. you know it’s even hard now wad. i heard that they wanted to change it back this year.. and i’m like WAD!!! SPM this year. But for SPM, they still ask you if yuo’d like to answer in bm or english. there’s 2 different sets of papers. so i dunno who’s complaining wad.

    [Cyril Dason]
    Ahh.. if they suddenly ask you guys to answer in BM.. Really pity you lah.. But yeah, with bilingual papers, I also wonder what’s all the fuss??

  21. Yeah…I agree with using English as medium in schools (and not just limited to Science and Maths) because I know from first hand experience (studying abroad and then returning to the country) that Malaysians are at a disadvantage if they choose BM over English.

    [Cyril Dason]
    You said it!! Funny how some think otherwise.

  22. i just don’t know why they are so narrow-minded!
    come on and be an observant!
    i am in form5 right now and me myself has realised the importance of Mathematics and Science in English..
    Lots of improvements and transformations have been made.
    Yes maybe my english is still not at the best height, but then, i managed to use it in my daily life.
    Government has finished million Ringgits once for this programme and now, wanna stop it just like that.
    It is really out of my mind.

    You have said it, I have said it.. so many have said it.. but yeah.. there are a bunch of people whom think otherwise… and yet, they are not in the system.

  23. My daughter is less than 2 years old and she can understand both English and Japanese, and later will introduce Malay, Mandarin and Cantonese.


    I can’t see why we cannot take 1 step forward to integrate the BM textbooks few years back with the current English science and maths text books. Its a lot of effort, but why move backward instead of forward. We can allow students to use either English or BM to answer in the exams as long as the maths and science principles are correct.

    Some good will surely come out of the dialectics at work between both languages instead of choosing either one. We need new advancements. We need Malaysia Boleh. Not some power struggle between languages.

    When will Malaysia advance and not hold on to race and language as stumbling blocks but embrace our differences as advantages?

    Nicely said bro!

  24. no. I support PPSMI.Obama should not be the President Of America if he only learn his native African Language.I personally do not agree with the government decision. Teaching in English will help to improve the student’s proficiency in English language. Learning languages, not only English but any languages needs time, therefore, it should be taught since young. It should be implemented for years to really see the overall result, as in how the English proficiency has improved among the students. I think the government has failed due to their ill planned strategy. If a better strategy is planned, I think it will be a success.

    I agree with what you say! Rome wasn’t built in one day!


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