Preparing preservice teachers for teaching science using English as the medium of instruction

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Conference publication

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Malaysia is currently reforming its education system in line with the government’s Vision 2020. This reformation is necessary to meet the needs of its own economic development and position itself in the globalisation of education. Key areas such as science and mathematics education are high on the agenda. However, as considerable world knowledge is written in English, Malaysian preservice teachers are being educated to teach these areas using English as the Medium of Instruction (EMI). Beginning 2006, the Ministry of Education Malaysia has collaborated with universities in England and Australia to devise new degrees for preparing Malaysian preservice teachers to teach science, mathematics, and design and technology using EMI. This study describes Malaysian preservice teachers’ perceptions about their preparation for learning to teach science using EMI at the conclusion of their first year of a new Bachelor of Education Studies (Primary Science) degree. An open-ended questionnaire collected data from 50 Malaysian preservice teachers from a Malaysian institute. These preservice teachers indicated that English vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation were paramount for their concept development in science education. Self assessments after one year of education also indicated an increase in English-language proficiency towards teaching primary science education (Pre course: M=4.68, SD=1.20; After one year: M=6.38, SD=1.12). Emailing, Internet chatting, short service messaging, and allocating English-only days were considered other ways for increasing such proficiencies. These and other findings are discussed in this paper to provide an understanding on practices that may be incorporated into coursework for enhancing both science education and English language skills.