Preferences or Requirements: Investigating Administrative Staff English Usage at Public Tertiary Institutions
The competency to use the English language in Malaysian tertiary education sectors is not solely required for pedagogical and research purposes. The language is also indispensable to administrative staff in the institutions to administer and spearhead the country’s education sector towards achieving world-class recognition. Yet, much literature is needed to highlight the importance of the language for administrative staff working at tertiary institutions. This study aims to investigate administrative staff at tertiary institutions’ usage of English language at the workplace. A mixed-method design was used to answer the what and how the staff uses the language. 138 administrative staff of several public tertiary institutions in Malaysia responded to an online questionnaire, and 10 were interviewed during a competency workshop. The survey and interview data generally indicated the administrative staff’s agreement on the importance of English language. In addition, most staff prefer to use the language during the telephone conversation. Still, they prefer to use it only when required, particularly in conversing with foreign counterparts. Albeit the preference, they were optimistic about the requirement set by institutions to be competent in the English language for workplace communication. These results are significant in understanding the administrative staff’s issues on the English language usage at the workplace and in enhancing the required competency as part of CPD.
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