When you flip through the pages of your local newspaper to find reports stating that the standard of English in your country is deteriorating, what do you do? For Vincent D’Silva, he does his bit by conducting courses on teaching English for free.
English is Vincent’s first language and it comes naturally to him as breathing does. Vincent realised that he was privileged to have mastery over the language and decided to help those who do not have the same privilege. As the current President of the Johor English Language Teaching Association (JELTA), he sees the importance of supporting the government’s effort in improving the country’s standard of English. To do this, the association needs to reach out to as many people as possible and to do so systematically.
JELTA organises free English language events and workshops for teachers, students, and other groups in collaboration with the Johor Department of Education and other private sectors. These events are not all about English grammar and nuances, they also motivate participants by instilling confidence in them to progress and continue learning on their own.
Having been an English language lecturer for over 28 years, Vincent believes that English should be taught in a fun and meaningful way, unlike the traditional way of memorising grammar rules. One of the ways Vincent gets his students immersed in the language is to only speak English in class. He believes that when a teacher diversifies and finds new ways to teach, the lesson comes alive in the classroom.
Newspaper-In-Education is one of the resources he uses to teach English. Newspapers contain a lot of information and he finds that students are not only benefiting from recent developments but are also interested in them. Vincent has conducted New Straits Times Newspaper-In-Education Workshops for principals, teachers, parents and students, and for many years has been a judge for the state level choral speaking competitions, debates and public speaking for both primary and secondary schools.
Running a non-profit education organisation, Vincent hopes to organise more JELTA conferences for teachers if finances allow it. These conferences are free-of-charge and have even reached school teachers in rural areas where resources for better teaching are minimal. An inner voice guides him in his work. To him, helping others gives him great satisfaction. There was once a teacher who was close to retirement who was overjoyed to attend a JELTA conference at no cost. He rarely had the opportunities to attend conferences or seminars in his teaching career. Vincent was happy and felt a sense of achievement in hearing this story.
People around Vincent respond positively to his efforts and have even volunteered to help him out. Instances like these make him feel grateful for his work, and for being able to play his part in society.