Effect of English Proficiency on Social Capital and Academic Achievement among Economic Students

By Hamzah, Muhammad Sodbir; Abdullah, Hussin et al. | International Journal of Business and Society, December 2015 | Go to article overview

Effect of English Proficiency on Social Capital and Academic Achievement among Economic Students


Hamzah, Muhammad Sodbir, Abdullah, Hussin, Ahmad, Mazida, International Journal of Business and Society


(ProQuest: ... denotes formula omitted.)

I. INTRODUCTION

The use of English language as medium of communication becomes increasingly important. One of the objectives in government transformation program (GTP) is to provide a quality education for all. Hence, a special focus has been put towards English language proficiency in preparing the students for challenges and opening up the students' possibilities in the future (GTP, 2011) as it is an important factor for students to further their study and for employment purposes. Bachman (1990) defines language proficiency as the language ability or ability in language use while Oiler (1983) defines language proficiency as an ability of several distinct but related constructs. An individual with inability or limited language proficiency will face difficulties in finding employment opportunities (Yasin, Shaupil, Muhktar, Ghani & Rashid, 2010; Jalaluddin, Mat Awal & Abu Bakar, 2009) and eventually will become a hindrance towards the growth of Malaysia because English language proficiency is now assumed to be one of the determinants for Malaysia growth (Hj Sarudin, Zubairi, Nordi, & Omar, 2008). In tertiary education, language proficiency becomes more important due to the lectures, tutorials and references that are mostly in English. English language is also offered in the universities to help enhance students' language proficiency.

By having a proficiency in English language, it helps students to communicate and involve in many activities involving non-Malay language speaker in Malaysia. As speaking or oral communication skill was ranked as the most important transferable skill ahead of other skill such as reading, writing and listening (Kwok, 2004), it is useful in helping the students to widen their structures of friends with different resources and increase their social network. Coleman (1988) defined social capital by its function and it is productive just like other physical capital. It is useful in the achievement of certain ends and its absent would not be possible. Drennan & Rohde (2002) indicate that English language is a proxy for something else such as learning style, and in this case it is to achieve excellent academic achievement.

A research by Drennan & Rohde (2002), studied the effect of English language proficiency towards academic achievement among accounting students in University of Queensland, Australia. The findings showed that students with limited use of English faced problems in advance subjects and not in the introductory level subjects. The reason is because advance subjects would require students to involve in problem solving activities where interpretive skill would require. So, do economics students in UUM produce the same result or differ?

Thus, this research is done to study the effects of English language proficiency towards students' academic achievement among undergraduate economics students in UUM and to examine the mediating effect of social capital outside family. For completeness, the overview of social capital and academic achievement will be discussed in details in section two. The third section describes the method used in the implementation of this study andthe last section describes the findings and conclusion of this study.

2. SOCIAL CAPITAL

Social capital has becomes increasingly important, as equally important as human capital. Bourdieu (1986) defined social capital as accumulation of resources within a durable network having institutionalized relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition. Whereas Adler and Kwon (2002) defined social capital as the goodwill that is engendered by the fabric of social relations and that can be mobilized to facilitate action. Coleman (1988) defined social capital by its functions and stated that it is not a single entity but a variety of various entities having two elements in common, having some aspect of social structure and helps to facilitate certain action within the structure. …

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