Challenges in Teaching English to Preschoolers: A Case Study in Malaysian Schools


  • Ainul Azmin Md Zamin International Islamic University Malaysia
  • Maskanah Mohammad Lotfie
  • Rabiah Tul Adawiyah Mohamed Salleh



English as a preschool instructional language, Malaysian public preschools, teaching English to preschoolers


This paper investigates the challenges preschool teachers face in an environment where they are expected to use English as a language of instruction alongside Malay, the national language. Information on the teachers’ educational background in teaching and training was gathered, their perceptions of the problems they face in facilitating the teaching and learning process of the children, as well as their suggestions on effectively overcoming the setbacks. In-depth online interviews were carried out and data analysis was carried out by utilising Atlas-ti. The results indicated that the teachers face a lack of skills in teaching English because they are not English majors but rather graduates of early childhood learning. This can however be rectified if continuous training and development are offered for them especially when there is a change in the syllabus. Apart from the teachers’ initiatives in tackling the various problems like inadequate materials and books for teaching, recommendations were made to help improve the situation including ideas to have both parents and school administrators join forces in improving the quality of teaching. Teacher training needs to be further improved to ensure the effectiveness of the implementation of English as one of the instructional languages used in preschools. Inadequate resources and materials to be used in classrooms and also students’ low level of proficiency in English are some are the challenges faced by the teachers as well. Although technology is integrated into school, optimizing it in class can sometimes be a difficult task for the teachers due to software issues.


Download data is not yet available.


Albaladejo, S.A., Coyle, Y.,de Larios, J.R. (2018) Songs, Stories, and Vocabulary Acquisition in Preschool Learners of English as a Foreign Language, System, 1-39. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2018.05.002

Aziz, N. N. B. A & Mamat, N. (2017). Pembangunan Modul Peningkatan Efikasi Mengajar Bahasa Inggeris Guru Prasekolah (MEP-BI): Kajian Rintis. Prosiding Seminar Pascasiswazah Kebangsaan. Tanjong Malim: Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.

Alih, N. A., Abdul Raof, A. H., & Md. Yusof, M. A. (2021). Policy change implementation: The Case of the CEFR in Malaysian ESL classrooms. Journal of Nusantara Studies, 6(2), 296-317.

EF English Proficiency Index. (2020). Retrieved from

Goh, P. S. (2019). Preschool teachers’ perspectives on using the English language to teach. Gema Online. 14/4 346-362.

Goh, P. S. C., Loy, C. L., Wahab, N. A. & Raja Nor Safinas, R. H. (2020). Preschool teachers' use of English as a medium of instruction: A systematic review of barriers and strategies. Issues in Educational Research, 30(3), 943-964. Retrieved from

Kultti, A. (2013). Singing as language learning activity in multilingual toddler groups in pre-school. Early Child Development and Care. 183 (12). 1955-1969.

Malaysian Ministry of Education. (n.d. a) Objektif pendidikan prasekolah. Retrieved from

Malaysian Ministry of Education (n.d. b) Maklumat presekolah. Retrieved from

Malaysian Ministry of Education. (2013). Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025. Putrajaya: Malaysian Ministry of Education.

Malaysian Ministry of Education. (2017). Kurikulum standard prasekolah kebangsaan. Malaysian Ministry of Education.

Malaysian Ministry of Education. (2018). Garis Panduan Pengurusan Prasekolah. Putrajaya: Malaysian Ministry of Education.

Majzub, R. M. (2013) Critical issues in preschool education in Malaysia. In A. Zaharim & V. Vodozov (Eds.), Recent advances in Educational Technologies: 4th International Conference on Education and Educational Technologies (EET '13) (pp.150-155). WSEAS Press. Retrieved from

Nor, M. M. (2013) Trends and issues in ECE. Education 2030 National Priorities and Challenges in Education. Kuala Lumpur: University Malaya.

Salleh, R. T. A. M., Lotfie, M. M., Zamin, A. A. M., Di Biase, B., Kawagichi, S. (2020). Towards a new framework of English language learning in Malaysian preschools. Southeast Asia Early Childhood Journal. 9(2), 144-154.

Zainal, Z. & Majzub, R. M. (2014). Pelaksanaan Bahasa Inggeris sebagai bahasa instruksional di prasekolah. Seminar Antarabangsa Pendidikan Global II, (pp703-717), Selangor: Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.




How to Cite

Md Zamin, A. A., Mohammad Lotfie, M., & Mohamed Salleh, R. T. A. (2022). Challenges in Teaching English to Preschoolers: A Case Study in Malaysian Schools . Al-Risalah: Journal of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (ARJIHS), 6(1), 38–61.