Improving School English in Malaysia Through Participation in Online Threaded Discussion Groups
Keywords: online communication, out-of-school literacy, adolescents, language hybrid
Kok Eng Tan and Abdul Rashid Mohamed
School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Kim Guan Saw
School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia
Dr. Kok Eng Tan is a senior lecturer at the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia. She is currently the chair of the B.Ed. (TESOL) programme. Her interests include ESL education and adolescents in-school and out-of-school literacy practices. She has also published both locally and internationally on these areas of her research.
Dr. Abdul Rashid Mohamed is the Dean of the School of Educational Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He is part of the TESOL team at the school. While his publications in both local and international journals show his wide-ranging research in education, his focus is on e-learning and education for sustainable development.
Dr. Kim Guan Saw is an Associate Professor of physics at the School of Distance Education, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His research interests cover distance learning, physics education and material science. His work has been published in both local and international journals.
In the digital and contemporary world, online communication is part of the daily lives of many Malaysian adolescents. Net chat, weblogs and threaded discussion groups are some of the channels through which these young people interact not only among themselves but also with those outside their circle. Based on the findings of a qualitative study of the writing in English by a group of Form 4 (Year 10) students in an urban school in Penang, Malaysia, this paper presents some characteristics of the interaction of a group of adolescent boys in an online threaded discussion group. The discussion includes the boys use of a language hybrid that mixes local expressions as well as short forms with English and their observation of a set of ground rules to sustain discussion. Using the features highlighted the paper suggests how this form of engagement can be used by the Malaysian teacher concerned with improving school English.