Six winners at this year's Arif Budiman Malay Language Teachers Award

Teacher Muhammad Irwan Jamal (above) allows students to use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram in class - and it has won him an award. -- ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG
Teacher Muhammad Irwan Jamal (above) allows students to use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram in class - and it has won him an award. -- ST PHOTO: RACHEL AU-YONG

Teacher Muhammad Irwan Jamal allows students to use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram in class - and it has won him an award.

The 31-year-old on Saturday received the Arif Budiman Malay Language Teachers Award from Education Minister Heng Swee Keat. The award, presented to outstanding Malay language teachers, saw six winners this year - the highest in its seven-year history. The other winners are teachers Norwati Sulaiman (Punggol Primary), Rashidah Rajah (Xinghua Primary), Rasidah Mohd Rasit (Tanjong Katong Secondary), Effendy Ahmadi (First Toa Payoh Secondary) and Nazarudin Abdul Bakar (Bedok View).

The use of social media as a teaching tool has had positive impact, even on those students who tend to use English instead of Malay, he said. "At the secondary school level, the most important thing is interest," said Mr Irwan. "Once you are interested, nothing is too hard. You will make the effort to correct your grammar or increase your vocabulary."

Speaking at Saturday's ceremony, Mr Heng urged the award winners to "put students at the heart of all they do". "The teaching and learning of mother tongue languages is challenging, given our changing language environment." he said. "I encourage you to pave the way by showing other teachers how to provide as many opportunities as possible for our young people to be engaged in using their mother tongue."