The Malaysian EFL Education: A Brief Historical Review and Literacy Issues

Harison Mohd. Sidek, Wahiza Wahi


Hailed as a lingua franca, the English language maintains its significance at the global level and due to such status, it
has been made a mandatory subject at the elementary, secondary and tertiary institutions in Malaysia. This paper
presents the review of English literacy in terms of its historical path and its status as a second language (EFL) issues
within the Malaysian educational context. Document review was conducted for the study to find out the Malaysian
English literacy historical path. A library research on mainstream journals was carried out to find out EFL literacy
issues in Malaysia. The historical review reveals that the mandatory inclusion of the English literacy in the school
and higher institutions’ curriculum could be traced back as a linguistic culturalization effect of the British
colonization. The review also indicates that the pattern of inclusion of the English literacy in the Malaysian
educational system seems to be developmental in nature but with some patterns of consistency at the initial stage of
its inclusion. With regards to the EFL literacy issues, the review shows that the shifting from the English to the
Malay medium in public schools could be inferred as one of the root causes of the emergence of issues in the EFL
literacy amongst Malaysian learners. The outcomes of the review have implications on English literacy policy, future
revisions of English literacy curriculum to alleviate the current EFL literacy issues and to increase its effectiveness in
EFL teaching and learning in the Malaysian context.

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