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Learning of English In Malaysia

by StudyMalaysia.com on February 28, 2015 | English in Malaysia, Learning English in Malaysia

Malaysia - A Conducive Environment

Learning English in Malaysia


The English language has been widely spoken and used in Malaysia for many years, so much so that it has automatically become the second language of the country. Nearly every household in the city in Malaysia uses English, even if it is not the first language of the house. With the world becoming smaller due to globalisation, the importance of the English language, which has been dubbed the international trading language, is very much evident. In this Internet and Information Age, in order to achieve international stature, it is important to know the English language as English is the lingua franca of the Internet.

For this matter, more and more students (local and international) are equipping themselves with the English language by attending special English courses and programmes in Malaysia. Therefore, it is not surprising to note that this language is being offered by many of the higher educational institutions, not only as a programme by itself but also as a preparatory subject to gain entry into undergraduate programmes offered by the local institutions as well as overseas institutions.

Why Choose Malaysia to Study an English Language Improvement Course?

The Major Language for Study in Schools, Universities and Communication
Malaysians have been influenced, especially during the British colonisation period, to use English in their daily transactions. The English language is being used extensively in Malaysia, in commercial or social settings, formal or informal situations – in business transactions, internet communication, advertisements and the entertainment industry. For some homes, it has become the second language, used in everyday conversation among family members and friends. Some Malaysian homes also use this language as their mother tongue.

Owing to its place of importance in the new knowledge economy, English, as a second language, continues to be a compulsory subject taught at all levels in every Malaysian school. On top of that, the subjects of mathematics and science are being taught in English in schools at all levels.

At the tertiary level, although the medium of instruction at undergraduate level in the public universities is the National language (Bahasa Melayu), with effect from the year 2005, English is used to teach the science and mathematics-related subjects. All private higher educational institutions use the English language as the medium of instruction.

A Conducive Environment
In a Multi-lingual Society like Malaysia, the advantage for international students to learn English is that they will learn the necessary communications skills to equip them for a successful life. The students will not only acquire the relevant study skills required for college or university entrance, but will also be equipped with knowledge essential in the working world. Whether it is for personal satisfaction or social enrichment, or simply to excel in your academic and work endeavours, you will find it advantageous to learn English in the Malaysian multi-lingual environment.

Apart from the public schools, language centres found in all major cities and towns in Malaysia offer English language courses that cater to the individual needs of the people, whether on a personal or professional basis. As such, there are classes which offer English for academic purposes to help students in their academic programmes that are conducted in English, as well as English language classes for specific purposes to help those who need English for career enhancement or development. Such classes are not only popular among the Malaysians but also among the foreigners (students and expatriates living in the country) who may require the English language during their stay in Malaysia, whether for personal or business reasons.

Therefore, with the English language as a natural second language of the country as well as being spoken by many Malaysians in and outside of their homes, International Students will find that Malaysia has an environment conducive for the studying of English.

Trained Professional Instructors
English instructors in the private educational institutions, whether expatriate or local, are highly-qualified and experienced. Students will be taught by friendly, dedicated and mature professionals who are genuinely concerned for the students' success in learning English.

Effective Teaching Methodology
The Language Centres in Malaysia use creative and dynamic learning activities and the proven ‘Communicative Approach' to language learning for their language programmes. Classes are lively and interactive where students can engage in roleplay activities, problem-solving exercises and small group discussions. Therefore, the students are able to apply their newly-learnt grammatical structures, vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to meaningful, real life situations.

Multimedia Technology
Some Language Centres in the institutions are also equipped with multimedia laboratories that are installed with comprehensive Internet and Networking system. These laboratories will provide a wide variety of interactive computerassisted language learning software, videos and audio tapes. On top of that, you will have supervised Internet access which will enable you to move beyond the classroom and gain exposure to stimulating resources available on the Internet.

Small Class Size
Students are assured of being able to study in anxiety-free, fully air-conditioned rooms. English language classes are normally small and with fewer students per class, individual attention is guaranteed. This would enable students to progress at a rapid pace.

Competitive Fees
The tuition fees for English courses in Malaysia are very competitive. For example, the preparatory courses for TOEFL and IELTS examinations usually take 2 to 6 months and the fees range from RM400 to RM800 per course depending on the duration and course contents.

Where to Learn the English Language in Malaysia ?

There are special centres in Malaysia where the English language is taught. These centres include:-
  • Specialist Language Centre e.g. the British Council (Malaysia), ELS English Language Centre, The Language House, etc
  • Higher Educational Institutions Language Centre e.g. KBU Language Centre, Stamford Language Centre and Taylor's Language Centre, etc

Types of Common English Programmes for International Students

Preparatory Course for Internationally-Recognised English Language Tests

Malaysia has many specialist language centres and private higher educational institutions that offer preparatory classes for the testing of English proficiency conducted by the external English Examination Board, as an entry requirement into college or university. Examples of such proficiency tests are the IELTS (International English Language Testing System); the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language); and the MUET (Malaysia University English Test).

  • TOEFL (Test Of English As A Foreign Language)
    TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is one of the more popular External English Examinations. A widelyrecognised English proficiency test, it is accepted by all colleges and universities in the UK, the US, Australia and Canada. The test score normally required by colleges and universities as the minimum admission requirement is between 173 and 250 in the new computer administered test (equivalent to a score of 500 to 600 in the old test format). The test is conducted throughout the year at the Prometric Testing Center.
    • Why take up preparatory courses for TOEFL? These preparatory courses will prepare you to obtain good scores in your TOEFL Test as students will develop general English skills and learn TOEFL test-taking strategies. The course normally includes a comprehensive overview of the TOEFL Computer-Based Test. Preparation is made for all the components which include the Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing components
    • Some providers of preparatory courses are:
      • ELS Language Centres Malaysia
      • Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak
      • Olympia College
      • KBU International College
      • Stamford College
      • Sunway University College
      • Taylor's University College
      • etc
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
    The International English Language Testing System, otherwise known as IELTS, is another internationally-accepted testing system for English language proficiency. This testing system is recognised by the British and Australian universities for admission of foreign students. It is also gaining increasing acceptance from institutions in the United States as well. It measures the ability to communicate in English across all four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.

    The test score normally required by institutions of higher learning as the minimum admission requirement is between 6.0 and 7.0. The test is available at different times of the year and is conducted at approved IELTS test centres.

    Generally, the duration of IELTS preparatory course will take 6 to 8 weeks and it focuses on a comprehensive overview of the IELTS test components. Their experienced instructors will teach test-taking strategies to help students obtain the high score they need for university entry.
    • Preparation for all components of the test: Reading Comprehension, Listening Comprehension, Written Composition and Oral interview
    • Some providers of the preparatory course are:
      • ELS Language Centres Malaysia
      • Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University College
      • Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak
      • Olympia College
      • INTI International University College
      • KBU International College
      • KDU College
      • Stamford College
      • Sunway University College
      • Taylor's University College
      • SIT International College
      • Methodist College KL
      • Nilai International College
      • etc

Other Choices of English Language Improvement Courses Developed by Some Malaysian Educational Institutions

Besides offering preparatory courses for internationally recognised English Language Tests, private universities and colleges also conduct internally-accepted English Proficiency course for students entering their pre-university courses or Bachelor's Degree programmes. The institutions also offer varied options of English programmes to meet the needs of different students and the public who have different reasons for studying English. These internally-developed programmes are designed to equip students with a higher level of language skills and proficiency.

Below are some examples of internally-developed and accepted English programmes offered by established higher educational institutions.

  • ELS Language Centres Malaysia
    Certified Intensive English Programme (CIEP)
    This is a fast track programme that is academically rigorous and demanding. It prepares students to cope with college and university studies. The ELS CIEP certificate is accepted by many universities and colleges in place of TOEFL / IELTS for entry requirements. This full-time course consists of 6 lessons per day and is structured to accelerate learning with maximum time spent in the classroom. It enables students to reach their academic and career goals in the shortest time possible.

    Certified Intensive English Programme (CIEP) Level 109
    CIEP Level 109 certification is recognised by many universities and colleges, including career schools in the United States, in place of TOEFL / IELTS. There are three stages here, namely the Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced Stage.

    Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Programme
    If you are interested in pursuing language teaching as a profession, the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) programme is also available at ELS Centres.

    Communicative English Programme (CEP)
    This course is designed to enable participants to function more professionally at work and more effectively in everyday situations through improved language proficiency. The course reinforces participants' knowledge of the forms and functions of the language in a communicative context. Students are encouraged to participate actively in simulated learner-centred activities facilitated by trained and professional instructors. This programme is registered under the HRDC for the PROLUS scheme. Company Contract Training is available for this course.

  • INTI International University College
    English Improvement Programme (EIP)
    The INTI International University College offers an internal English course known as the English Improvement Programme (EIP) which is conducted in one whole full semester with approximately 30 study hours per week. This programme is designed for non-native speaking students who wish to improve their English language skills to prepare them for the regular academic programmes at the undergraduate level in the INTI International University College.

  • KBU International College
    The Intensive English Programme (IEP)
    This internal programme caters to all your needs (all four language skills) in the English language. A multimedia English Language learning courseware, Planet English, is used to complement classroom teaching. Students would need to take a placement test to ascertain their level of proficiency. There are four levels, namely Lower Basic, Higher Basic, Intermediate Basic and Advanced Basic in the programme and each level can be completed in 12 weeks. This programme will prepare students for IELTS and TOEFL.

    Dip. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
    This Diploma, awarded by the London Teacher Training College, UK specifically targets trainees and those interested in teaching English as a second or foreign language, combining academic study, teaching and classroom management. For experienced teachers, it gives them the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills and to obtain a recognised qualification for career advancement.

    Cert. in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)
    This Certificate awarded by the London Teacher Training College, UK is intended for trainees who wish to embark on a career in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language. This is a programme of at least 30 hours of theory and practice of contemporary English teaching.

  • KDU College
    Certificate in Intensive English (CIE)

    This Certificate is ideal for students and working adults who want to improve their English communication skills. It is especially tailored for those who are planning to further their education in English. Communication and interaction skills are enhanced with the help of Computer Assisted Language Learning through the aclEnglish & Planet English language software. The programme consists of 4 levels of study, namely Basic, Elementary, Intermediate and Higher Intermediate. The duration of each level of the Programme is 14 weeks of 20 hours per week.

  • Kuala Lumpur Infrastructure University College
    Intensive English Programme (IEP)

    KLIUC offers an Intensive English Programme for high school leavers or working adults. The intake for this programme is in February, June and November. The programme provides necessary skills for students to achieve a satisfactory proficiency level before gaining admission into institutions of higher learning or for effectiveness at the workplace. It will develop the students' vocabulary and language skills in listening, speaking, reading and writing through a range of communicative activities and a skill-based approach. Upon completion of this course, students are able to pursue any of the diploma or foundation programmes at KLIUC.

    Certificate in English Language (For Business)
    This 1 1/2 year programme is designed to upgrade the students' English for professional contexts or to pursue a career in fields which require a high Language Proficiency. This programme will enable students to communicate appropriately and confidently in communicative tasks. To enroll into this programme, students will need SPM / UEC / O-Level or equivalent with a minimum of 2 credits which include English.

    Diploma in English for Professional Communication

    This 2-year programme is designed to provide a practical knowledge of Business English which is needed for effective communication in the business world. To enroll into this programme, students will need SPM / UEC / OLevel or equivalent with a minimum of 3 credits which include English.

    After completion of this Diploma, students may pursue a Bachelor's Degree in relevant fields, i.e. English, Technical Writing, Corporate Communication, Communication, Mass Communication, Business Administration, Public Administration, and so on.

    B.A (Hons) English for Professional Communication
    This is a higher level of English programme which is designed to impart the knowledge and skills necessary to function effectively in the national and international business scenario or environment. They are also equipped with basic business and entrepreneurship skills and business law to adapt to the global market with the mastery of one other foreign language such as French, German, or Mandarin. The duration of the programme is 3 years with 9 semesters.

  • Methodist College Kuala Lumpur
    Certificate in English

    This certificate course is a Malaysian Quality Assurance Agency-approved (LAN) course designed for those who need to attain a basic proficiency in English to help them speak, read and write better English. A 15-month course, it begins from the basic level to the intermediate level and culminates in the attainment of a higher proficiency. It focuses on the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing but also includes modules such as Introduction to Drama and Creative Writing.

    Certificate in English for Executives

    English is the lingua franca of the world and in most countries it is the language of communication in business. Fluency in English will increase one's effectiveness in business negotiations. This 15-month LAN-approved Certificate course is designed to help working executives acquire competency in speaking, writing and negotiating in English.

  • Monash University Malaysia
    English Language Bridging Program (ELBP)

    This is an intensive English language course for local Malaysian students or International Students with conditional offers for the Monash University. It was designed to give students, with a test score slightly lower than the requirement to study at Monash University, an opportunity to take up an academic orientation and bridging programme instead of spending the time preparing for and sitting for another IELTS test. This programme is open only to students with undergraduate conditional offers to faculties of this university. Upon successful completion of the course, students can be admitted into the university without having to sit for another IELTS test.

  • Nilai International College
    Intensive English Programme

    This programme is a preparatory course designed for students to acquire a satisfactory proficiency level in English before proceeding to Nilai's foundation, certificate, diploma and degree programmes. The syllabus follows a skill-based approach with emphasis on grammar and vocabulary development. It covers in-depth Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking skills using task-based activities in a language-enriched environment. Students are required to take an Intensive English Programme Placement Test prior to enrolment. The results of this test will determine the duration of the course the students have to undertake.

  • Olympia College
    ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Language)

    There are 4 levels in this preparatory course, namely Basic, Elementary, Intermediate and Higher Intermediate. Students can also continue with the Advanced level (optional) if they wish to. These programmes are offered to students from all age groups and all levels of ability as they equip students with listening, reading, speaking and writing as well as grammar skills at the different levels respectively. As it is a UK-based award, universities and professional bodies recognise Olympia's ESOL preparatory course which also equips students for IELTS or TOEFL tests after they finish the Higher Intermediate level.

  • S.I.T International College
    Foundation in English Course

    This programme is specially designed to build the learners' skills, confidence and fluency in listening, speaking, reading and writing for university level study and enable them to successfully participate. It has 7 levels with 6 weeks of study per level.

  • Stamford College
    Intensive English Programme (IEP)

    This course is designed to help students improve their proficiency in English through interactive lectures and practical exercises. The programme is offered at three levels, namely Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced Level. Each level has a duration of 12 weeks with 16 hours per week.

    English Language Proficiency Course (ELPC)
    This course has been proven to be particularly beneficial for International Students who come from non-Englishspeaking countries and for Malaysian post-secondary students. It prepares these students sufficiently for their entry into university and college courses. There are also 3 levels here with each level consisting of 15 weeks of study.

  • Sunway University College
    Intensive English Programme (IEP)

    A full-time intensive English proficiency and preparatory programme, the IEP equips students to study courses in English at the college level. On successfully acquiring the proficiency level, students can enroll in other academic programmes. This programme has four instructional levels with 10 weeks of 200 hours per level. Students having achieved the highest level and acquired the Band Achievement & Prerequisite Fulfillments, can enroll in the Victoria University / Monash University Malaysia.

  • Swinburne University of Technology (Sarawak Campus)
    Intensive English Proficiency Course

    This course is designed to fast-track students from their different starting points to a functional level of academic English. The aim is to help them make the transition from school to university studies successfully.

    At the end of the course, the students will have acquired the following:

    • Use of the international pronunciation alphabet for clear and correct pronunciation
    • Sentence level grammar
    • A wider academic vocabulary
    • Better comprehension of academic text
    • Coherent writing of academic text
    • Confidence in speaking in English
    • Improved oral fluency and accuracy
    • Ability to understand spoken English
  • Taylor's University College
    Intensive English Course

    This course is specially designed for students who need to enhance their English before furthering their studies and fulfilling the foreign/local university entry requirements. The duration of the programme will depend on the English Proficiency Test score and your performance in class. Normally, you should be able to complete Level 8 within a year. There will be 20 hours of lessons per week with 4 hours daily. There are 8 levels for this course.

    English Programme for Academic Purposes
    This programme is aimed at improving the English language skills and the academic study techniques of Taylor's students. The programme has three levels - Intermediate, Upper Intermediate and Advanced. Each course is adapted to meet the individual needs of the students. Students will then be able to fulfil the English language requirement for entry into Taylor's Hotel and Tourism Management Programmes, Law, Bio-Medical Studies, Engineering, etc.

  • University College Sedaya International
    B.A. (Hons.) English Language & Communication

    This degree programme is designed to equip students who do not speak English as a first language with excellent communication capabilities for professional employment. Students who are learning English as a second or additional (foreign) language will be able to develop graduate level communicative competence, and to use English effectively in professional thinking and decisionmaking. Practical applications are strongly featured in this programme which links theory and practice through critical reflection. Observation and work experience (via Co-Operative Placement), inquiry and project activities are integral to the learning processes of the programme. This is a 4-year programme with the first year being the Foundation level.

    Certificate in English
    This course aims to develop students' communication competency in both oral and written English. It includes a range of skills that matches the students' needs and goals to achieve language proficiency to a high-intermediate level. Here, students are also given a unique opportunity to participate in a variety of outdoor and personal growth activities while practising their newly-acquired English language skills. To obtain the certificate, students must successfully complete Level 2 (Lower Intermediate English) to Level 3 (Higher Intermediate English) as outlined in their modules and the three compulsory Ministry of Higher Education modules – Bahasa Kebangsaan, Malaysian Studies and Moral Studies / Islamic Studies.


Malaysia is the right country for the learning of the English language. With international trading and globalisation, the English language has played and will play an important role in everyone's life. Therefore, the higher educational institutions in Malaysia have seen to it that various levels are designed for English language programmes to accommodate the different levels of proficiency of the individual students and to suit the various needs of different students.
Source: Studymalaysia Research Team

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