Speaking English does not mean we are forgetting our traditions, nor does it mean that we are leaving behind our identity, Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah said.
She said that one can still keep the important values and grow to be a global citizen that Malaysia can be proud of and at the same time be fluent in English.
Increasing English abilities would also, as the Queen said, open up more opportunities in personal and professional life, which would enable a person to compete in this fast-changing global economy.
“For Malaysia to prosper, we must communicate and engage with our neighbours. We can’t be a closed society, nor would we ever want to be. We rightfully take enormous pride in our nation and our culture.
“It is our duty to share our knowledge, customs and cultures with the wider world community. Learning and communicating in English enables us to do this,” she said in her speech at the Pahang Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Showcase 2019 today.
Also gracing the event was the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, who Tunku Azizah described as very keen to meet with the talented students as well as to show his support to the efforts of enriching education among youths.
Also present were the United States (US) ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail and State Education Director Datuk Dr Tajuddin Mohd Yunus.
While stressing the importance of English, Tunku Azizah also noted that one should also master his or her own language because being bilingual would give the speaker the confidence to talk to other people from different races.
The programme, which began in 2012, is a joint collaboration between the Malaysian and the US government with the aim to create more opportunities for students to learn English in an exciting way.
A total of 14 secondary schools in Pahang participated in the programme.
Tunku Azizah also noted the presence of English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) has created a new way of learning, where students can no longer just sit at the back of the classroom pretending to pay attention and memorising a few words ahead of a test.
“Suddenly, there is this American who is forcing them to speak or think on their feet. ETAs also move classroom learning to a real-life situation through all of the extracurricular activities and camps. It is putting that knowledge into practice where students make the most gains,” she said.
Tunku Azizah also reminded the students to study hard as all the efforts from the government, schools administration, teachers and ETAs would not make a difference without their commitment.
“You must show up to school, pay attention to teachers, listen to your parents and, most importantly, put in the hard work that it takes to make you a future leader of Malaysia,” she added.