This blog attempts to share the assential of English Language to meet the needs of pupil in the Secondary School and to whom English is a foreign tongue. While I agree that learning the knowledge of English here is not the highroad to good speaking and writing, it must be acknowledged that English Proficiency is an important element in speaking and writing correctly. Pupils as well teachers should find this blog of some assistence, and those who wish to conduct a more extensive study of English Proficiency, will find it useful as a starting-point.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

PMR English paper: Just too many errors

2010/10/15C.B. LIM, Kuala Lumpur

I WISH to highlight the glaring grammatical and logical errors in the recent Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) 2010 English Paper 1.

Students had to read through a passage and answer question 29 to 34 in the English Paper 1.I was deeply disappointed to find that the passage was peppered with errors.

In the first paragraph, the author wrote: "Being a Penangite, it was indeed fun to go somewhere far as it would be a change from my normal routine."

This is a classic dangling modifier in which the author refers it (the trip) as a Penangite. There were two not-so-serious flaws in the second paragraph: "Drop me off at a small town" should be corrected as " in a small town" whereas "I went to enquire at the bus station" should be "I went to enquire about the bus schedule at the bus station".

The writer wrote in the third paragraph: "I alighted where most buses stopped for passengers to get refreshments and stretch their legs."Did he really mean he got off the bus where most buses stopped for passengers to get refreshments and stretch their legs?Then, in the fourth paragraph, the passage read: "I enquired from someone and was told to wait at a bus stop across the road. Hence, I waited eagerly."

"Hence" means "for that reason"; is it logical for a person to wait eagerly for the reason he was to wait at a bus stop across the road? And "hence" is a formal word and should not be included in that context. This is like a square peg in a round hole. Hence, the writer or teacher has poor diction.
Furthermore, "I enquired from" is not a standard form of English, it should be "I enquired of".I was fuming when I read the last sentence of the passage: "This will definitely be one experience that I will never forget!" Did the author imply that the experience has yet to happen yet?
It should be: "That was definitely an experience that I will never forget!"In question 32: "The word alighted means... A) got down...". We use "get off the bus".In question 22: "The bus stopped at Yong Peng to allow the passengers to ... A) take a nap; B) relax themselves; C) check into a hotel..." "Check into a hotel" should be "check in at a hotel" or "check in to a hotel".
Whereas the word "relax" is not used with reflexive pronouns like myself, yourself, themselves, etc. In Unit 76 of Advanced Grammar in Use by Martin Hewings, it states: "Some verbs are rarely or never used with a reflexive pronoun in English.
These include complain, concentrate, lie down, meet, relax, remember."Finally, "Questions 29-34..." on page 12 should be "Question 29-34".There were at least four grave grammatical mistakes in this English Paper 1 passage and PMR is a "national exam".
Those who set the papers are leading hundreds of thousands of young students astray. Even the reviewers (I suppose they hold an English degree) were not able to point out the flaws.
As the Russian proverb says: "A fish rots from the head down."
If we want to improve our standard of English, we have to retrain our English teachers, comprehensively and thoroughly.