Revisiting English Language Learning among Malaysian Children

  •  Hamidah Yamat    
  •  Ross Fisher    
  •  Sarah Rich    


Despite learning English language for six years at elementary and five years at secondary levels, Malaysian students’ English language competency has always been the obstacle in securing success at university level as well as in job opportunities. Hence, various interventions have been taken in the teaching and learning process as well as changes in language policy. This paper calls for a revisit on Malaysia’s policy on teaching English English at primary schools. It discusses the findings of English language acquisition as experienced by Azlan, Hazwan and Aida’s (pseudonyms), aged six, and explored through an ethnographic case study. The children’s, their mother’s and teacher’s voices were gathered through interviews. The children’s behaviours in and outside of school and at home were also captured through observations. A grounded theory data analysis approach was employed in analysing the data. Findings illuminated that for these children, the second language was acquired through play and use; and that developing children’s confidence should be the starting point. The implication of this finding is discussed in the light of the English language policy for teaching English to Malaysian primary school children.

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