MO,12/2/2018, KUANTAN: The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme is a game changer which has not only improved the command of English among students in Pahang but built their confidence. State Education Department acting director, Dr Tajuddin Mohd Yunus described the young American graduates from universities in the United States involved in the ETA programme as dedicated educators.
He said since the Fulbright ETAs began arriving in Pahang in 2012, they have had a positive impact on students as the ETAs. They help make the language more interesting by organising outdoor camps, visiting Orang Asli settlements and allocating extra time for students after school. “Although the ETAs are stationed at selected schools, the district education department is taking the opportunity to utilise their knowledge and skills in the language.
For example, the district education department organises workshops for primary school teachers and English camps during weekends which will be attended by students from various schools. “The ETAs have helped to build the students confidence as more students including those from rural schools are coming forward to take part in debates, and choral and public speaking. In the past, students were shy to participate in activities, including discussions and quizzes,” he said when contacted today.
Tajuddin said some of the ETAs are seen as an inspiration for students from rural areas. They spend long hours to guide students to be confident to speak in English. He said despite being posted in areas far from town, it has never dampened the spirit of the ETAs, as they often make the best out of of what they have.
“The ETAs are innovative and they make the subject interesting through games, stage performance and songs. They certainly know how to capture the students’ attention and help them improve their English proficiency,” he said, adding the ETAs have mentors, most of whom were teachers from the same school who will help them adapt to the local culture and make their stay here more comfortable.
Currently, there are 14 ETAs teaching at 14 schools in seven districts – Pekan, Raub, Maran, Temerloh, Jerantut, Lipis and Bera – who have been stationed in Pahang since Jan 28. The Fulbright ETAs began arriving in Malaysia in 2012 for their 10-month stints at schools in selected states including Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Perlis, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak.
The ETA programme is the result of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former US President Barack Obama’s shared commitment to expand people-to-people exchange programmes between the two countries.