English In Malaysia Case Study

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1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ENGLISH IN MALAYSIA The history of English in Malaysia started as early as 19th century. It began when the British Empire expanded its mission of searching gold, glory and propagating of gospel to the South East Asia including Malaysia. The first British Colonist head called Francis Light headed in Penang. In the beginning, the British Colonist communicated with the locals using English and helped by sign language as most of the people cannot speak English at that moment. Gradually, they took control and intervened in the local and administrative affairs of the traditional Malay states. The increased in government services and the introduction of the Resident System in 1870’s had further established the presence of the British and therefore the spread of English among the locals. Platt and Weber (1980) said, British officers were employed to head departments involved in collection of revenues, road construction and supervision of mines. They also recruited a small number of local Malays who were able to understand and communicate even in some simple everyday English. Later, the expansion of commerce and trading in town areas especially had influenced and enhanced the use of English among the locals for everyday conversation. Many outside traders from different places, groups and races came to the port cities of Singapore, Malacca and Penang. Albeit in 16th century Malay language was the lingua franca or the language used as a spoken language

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