USIA English Language Programs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs


Report on Academic Specialist Visit to Malaysia: December 5-19, 1998

By Neil J. Anderson, Brigham Young University

About the Specialist

Neil J. Anderson is an associate professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He has been at BYU for 1 year as a member of the Department of Linguistics in the MA TESOL Program. Prior to his appointment at BYU he taught in the MA TESL program at Ohio University. Dr. Anderson received his BA degree in Spanish from Brigham Young University in 1979 and his MA in Teaching English as a Second Language in 1981. He received his Ph.D. in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989. Dr. Anderson has travel and lectured in Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Indonesia, Morocco, Namibia, Panama, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States. He has authored an intermediate reading text in the Tapestry series entitled, Real Contexts. He also has a new teacher training text that is part of the TeacherSource series entitled, Exploring Second Language Reading: Issues and Strategies.

Click here to visit Neil Anderson's homepage.


Areas of Specialization

Second language reading, teaching and learning styles, language learning strategies, multiple intelligences, and second language evaluation and testing.


Trip Report

I presented to 8 groups of educators with an audience of approximately 325 second language scholars. From these many sessions I came away with six impressions. First, I was extremely impressed with the level of English language skills of the teachers and teacher trainers. The high quality of teachers places Malaysia in a strong position to continue moving forward with English language education.

Second, I was also impressed with the sincere desire of the teachers and teacher trainers to improve the reading skills of the Malaysian students at all levels of education. In particular the sessions on improvement of reading rate were well received. The Dean at the University of Malaysia had just participated in a major study of the reading habits of Malaysia school children. With the release of that report there is expected to be a major focus on reading skills within the Malaysia education system.

A third impression I came away with the potential for a true multiplier effect. Many of the teachers and teacher trainers who attended the sessions indicated that they would be sharing the information presented in the seminars and would contact me with further questions and comments and the ideas on second language reading were implemented into the classrooms.

Fourth, a major focus of the sessions was the appropriate use of the USIA publications of American Literary Classics. This series of short stories was used at each of the sites. I believe that there will be an increased request for these materials. Teachers have some activities that they can actually use with these short stories.

I participated in two interviews with the press: one in Kuala Lumpur with a reporter from The Star and a second with a reporter from The Daily Express in Kota Kinabalu. I believe that these articles will give a favorable impression of the United States and the teaching of reading to second language learners.

Finally, I was invited to return to Malaysia by two groups. The University Putra Malaysia hosts a biannual conference for English language educators. They have invited me to return in May 2000 to speak at their conference. Also, the Dean at UNITAR, the new cyber-university in Kuala Lumpur asked about my availability in June 1999 to speak at a conference that they will host. Either return visit will reflect positively on the United States Information Agency.



Suggested Bibliography

Anderson, N. J. 1996. Real contexts. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Anderson, N. J. 1999. Exploring second language reading: Issues and strategies. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Bamford, J., & R. R. Day. (1998). "Teaching reading". Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, 124-141.

Beach, R., & S. Hyunds. (1996). "Research on response to literature". In Handbook of Reading Research, edited by R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, & P. D. Pearson. Pp. 453-489. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Chen, H. C., & M. F. Graves. (1995). "Effects of previewing and providing background knowledge on Taiwanese college students' somprehension of American short stories". TESOL Quarterly, 29, 4, pp. 663-686.

Hudson, T. (1998). "Theoretical perspectives on reading". Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, 43-60.

Perkins, K. (1998). "Assessing reading". Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 18, 208-218.

Shanahan, T. (1997). "Reading-writing relationships, thematic units, inquiry learning . . . In pursuit of effective integrated literacy instruction". The Reading Teacher, 51, 1, pp. 12-19.



Recommended Links

Neil Anderson's homepage

Syllabus: New Directions in Education Technology


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