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WSE GM Interviewed for the Edge Daily

English lessons on flexi-time By MADIHA FUAD.

 

A personalized flexible and natural learning environment is exactly what Malaysians need to perfect their English skills and offer them the added boost needed for a promotion, says General Manager of Wall Street English Malaysia, Richard Giddings. Wall Street English, a language-training institute for adults and business professionals started in 1972, launched its first centre in Malaysia at Fahrenheit 88 in January 2013. 

 

While a majority of Malaysians are able to converse in English, many still lack adequate proficiency. Importantly, Wall Street English Malaysia is looking to tap into this market, "There is a big examination market in Malaysia and the skill required to pass an exam is different than the skill that is required to speak English, not everyone who is able to pass an exam is able to speak English," he notes. In a recent Wall Street English Malaysia survey, 88% of companies agreed that their employees should be fluent in English, as a result, companies are investing more resources to English language training. A large market for Wall Street English Malaysia comprises adults seeking to improve their English for job promotion. Wall Street English Malaysia also targets the large number of international businesses and embassies, whose local staff are required to converse in English. Another area of interest is the number of students leaving Malaysia to study overseas; Australia, the UK, the US. The local students may have a good command in English, but for some students, they require an examination to prove that they have a certain level of English," says Mr. Giddings. Using the International English Language Testing System grade, Mr. Giddings rates the level of proficiency in Malaysia to be between 4.5 and 5, varying from basic competence to partial command of the language. To enroll in an exclusive university for example, a student would need to achieve at least 6.5. Apart from that, there is the large number of international students in Malaysia who are not able to converse in Bahasa Melayu and need to improve their English proficiency in order to communicate. Wall Street English prides itself as a different learning institute because clients are able to set their own schedule, determine their own goal and learn to speak English confidently, "This is where our flexibility kicks in, you can choose to take your time or you can choose to go at a faster pace. We provide our clients with flexibility whereby they can book a class whenever they are free from l0am to l0pm every day, including public holidays. So you would be able to come in whenever you like ... realistically you would still have your family, your social life," adds Mr. Giddings. 

 

 

 

The newly-opened Wall Street English Malaysia, which can accommodate l,500 students, is slated to have around 12 qualified native English-speaking teachers from the UK, the US and Australia. Wall Street English notes that these are the countries where Malaysian students often head to for further studies. "Not only that, but these countries are also the accents that a majority of the students would like to imitate," reasons Mr. Giddings, Wall Street English's "Multimethod" learning enables students to learn naturally with a learning environment that surrounds the students in real-life situations, "Being in a class with a maximum of four students, you would get more opportunity with the teacher and this way your confidence would increase, your pronunciation would improve, you get to learn in a better environment and it is a much better learning experience," says Mr. Giddings. Wall Street English Malaysia also offers a VIP course for people with limited time to study or have special needs and require a rapid improvement in their level of English. 

 

Wall Street English, owned by Pearson, the world's largest educational publishing company, operates over 450 centres in 28 countries. In Asia, it has 65 centres in China, 8 in Hong Kong, 6 in Indonesia, 8 in Thailand, 6 in South Korea and launched its first centre in Malaysia and Vietnam in January 2013, ''Wall Street English is working together with Pearson to create co-brand educational material. We also have education support in development of products from Pearson," said Mr. Giddings, who has been with Wall Street English for a decade notes “With this, Wall Street English is able to tap into Pearson's resources by providing benefits for its students such as having access to Longman dictionary and Financial Times as well as getting discounts for books under the Penguin Group. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge for us is the level of English here. It's a mature market and our job is to convince people to improve their level of English and make themselves unique from everyone else." Mr. Giddings notes that about 30% of Malaysia's population are 14 years old and below- "In five years time, they will all be looking for a job, and of course, employers are going to ask, what makes you unique? English could be that one thing that differentiates you from everyone else ".

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