Need to refine ways of teaching Malay language

National 2 minutes, 36 seconds


FURTHER refinement in teaching basic sounds and words in writing and reading is needed to face Malay literacy challenges in the country.

Senior Research Fellow from the Faculty of Education of the University of Malaya, Dr Isahak Haron visited two schools when he was in the country recently as a consultant for the development of Kaedah Gabungan Bunyi Kata, translated as ‘Integrated Sound Word Approach’ (KGBK).

During his visits, he observed that teachers could improve their methods in explaining letters and their combinations to form words.

“They (teachers) have most of the basics down. But around 30 per cent, the finer details could be improved. KGBK isn’t about just listing all the alphabets in order and their sounds,” Dr Haron said in an interview.

Teaching should focus on developing the ability to build words from individual sounds by blending the sounds together in sequence, instead of just listing what each alphabet sounds like in absence of context, he added.

Dr Haron said his focus was on assisting Brunei teachers in improving this aspect, as well as how to mould KGBK to fit the needs of special needs students.

“We (teachers) need to tailor our techniques to fit each student and their respective challenges. It will be slightly different with those who are visually challenged, sounds will be their strengths while with the hard of hearing, sign language and visual techniques will be necessary.”

He praised the Ministry of Education’s efforts in taking initiative in making inclusive education possible for all, saying that KGBK, which has seen measured success in its initial six months, had to be “authentic” to Brunei and needed to be progressively reviewed for future improvement.

SENA teachers Afrah Izzat Hj Mohd Tejuddin and Mohd Salleh Hamidy Julidy, who participated in a workshop facilitated by Dr Haron last week, said that students made small but significant improvements based upon a scale quantifying their literacy abilities beginning at level one up until level 12.

Their students were part of a select 460 pupils who underwent KGBK. They were taught small groups from one up to four times a week, in sessions ranging from 30 minutes to an hour.

Mohd Salleh, who teaches at Royal Brunei Navy Primary School said that being hands on, using the right materials and closely monitoring what level each student is contributed to making the biggest difference in students moving up the specified levels.

Arfah said that although all primary school students should have their literacy competency at level 12 before progressing to the secondary level, this was a difficult task in students who are at levels below six, and need to rapidly ugrade to higher levels in a short time frame.

“As of yet, there are no black and white specifications as to what level a student has to be at before moving to the next (academic) year. Making a student who is at level four, and bringing them up to level 12 will take time.”

She suggested that parents and family members of students be briefed about KGBK so that they can reinforce what is being taught, and assist their children in improving their literacy.

The Brunei Times