End of the Year Holidays

on Monday, 6 December 2010
It has been a long while but because it's the school holidays, Tasty English will be on sabbatical until the 4th of January 2011.

Sorry dudes, 

Teachers need the break!

Waiting for Superman

on Wednesday, 24 November 2010
Waiting for Superman

That is the title of the latest documentary movie that has been released.

This movie is about education or more specifically what is lacking of it in the US education system. It states and I quote a lot of good and effective English teachers but also containing a lot of very ineffective ones. According to The Oprah Show and the guest starring in that documentary Michelle Reed, this is one of the major reasons why the education system is failing and the fact that even a few of these ineffective teachers are in classes everyday, 5 days a week is detrimental to the vision and future of young ones.

If you have 3 effective teachers going in for 3 straight periods, versus 3 ineffective teachers going into class for 3 straight periods, it heavily guides or misguides the path of students - Michelle Reed in The Oprah Show

I think this is phenomenal and not to mention not new. It has been under the rugs for too long that the acceptance of ineffective teachers are always compromised. At what expense? The education of the students. Michelle Reed purportedly fired more than 1000 teachers in the public sector in the US for not being effective teachers even with a system similar to ours; a teacher's union that heavily guards the security of not just the teaching profession but the security of being a civil servant as well.

Being a civil servant and a teacher gives a lot of security blankets to individuals. Not only is it difficult to fire a teacher, it is also difficult to make that teacher's life difficult. You can, but it is not easy. It isn't new that there are a handful of teachers who abuse this sense of security and abuse it the best they can. Some are smart about it and tend to fix their attitudes every now and then to ensure that they are safe just in case there are people watching over them.

I find this sense of security to be VERY unchecked. Don't get me wrong, I think that having security and a union is brilliant and ultimately necessary but if this leads to unchecked abuse of those within the system, then you're just covering up one hole by digging another. Job security should not immediately equal to I-can-do-whatever-the-hell-I-want-and-no-one-can-talk-smack-about-it. Once again, I'm not saying that the system is impervious and invincible, I'm saying that it is made so difficult to crack, it'll take more than a sledgehammer to break those walls.

I can understand the sentiment brought up by those in the Oprah Show. I also hate it when I see some slacking off around me while others are doing their mighty best to improve the people around them. I hate it when I see people giving tonnes of excuse while others take it with a don and force themselves to work harder for the betterment of others instead of themselves. I feel that our system of Guru Cemerlang is excellent in paving the way for teachers who want to become better and strive to improve their students. I think that there should be a thorough check and balance system to make it easier to recognise these tireless teachers and credit them for their uproaring efforts and success.

Until then, I really wanna watch Waiting for Superman.

Why doesn't it appear in ARES?

Freshman Year Part II

on Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Following up with my year end analyses, I think it's important to keep things brief as well. I think being a civil servant and teacher has taught me a few lessons rather painstakingly.

Well, some things can't be taught or told. You have to experience it yourself. It really is very 'eye-opening' to work with civil servants. You really get a mixture of a 'variety' of characters. I hardly want to divulge detailed information about these relations... Because it's just not professional.

I think keeping your workplace and work ethic tip top is the key. I know this has nothing to do with professional development but it helps you stay focused. In the end, it's very easy to feel imbalanced and untethered to your duties. You feel like you're leaving too many things hanging and you don't know which to commit to first. Organised - that's the keyword for the year.

Following up to the word 'organisation' is management. I think student management cannot be undermined here. The idea is - you manage them well, you can have any activity. You 'teach them to self manage' and they become 'instintively creative'. My ultimate goal and resolution for 2011 would be just that.

Get students to become their own managers and think-tanks. Make their dependancy on teachers to be near zero.

2011, here they come

Freshman Year Part I

on Tuesday, 9 November 2010
As the year draws to an end for school, it's important to have a little bit of reflection about the year. I can't seem to put it in more comprehensible writing so I guess I'll be splitting it into parts.

First up, the students

i think they have been very appreciative of what i've been trying to do. I feel very blessed to have them not to be my students but to teach me how to become a better teacher. Seeing it's my first year as a full-fledged teacher, the things I've learned are important and will stick for a very long time.

... No matter what they give to me, i'll give back two-folds.

1 Dalton Storytelling Competition

on Monday, 8 November 2010
I had a storytelling competition with my form 1 class and it proved to be quite the hit among the kids.

I should do this more often to boost the confidence of the students to speak in English. I've already posted the album in my Facebook account (link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=266075&id=507101837 )... So I'm not going to post it here. I'll just post the winners here as a small prize of appreciation.


Consolation prizes:

2nd Runner-Up:

1st Runner-Up




Painful Pens

Since this is the first time I'll be going graphic, it's kinda... sad that I'm posting about punishment. This kid skipped my class and had the nerve to hide from me as I spotted him from afar. I just had to punish him but I did not want to resort to barbaric and crude assaults.

So I assault his brain.

*note: some of the images could be very graphical. A teacher's assistance while viewing is advised.



I should have given more...

Stage Fright

on Sunday, 31 October 2010
Tomorrow, 1 Dalton will be having a story telling competition. It's important not only as an enrichment process of speaking English, but performance wise it helps a lot in confidence.


If there is one thing that students need more than anything, it's confidence. Importantly, you get a lot of kids who are noisy, full of energy, and very out of bounds when it comes to personal hygiene... Well, this isn't going to change that last bit...

... moving on....

Most of the time, you'll get students who are so energetic and outspoken but are complete wusses when told to come up to the front of a crowd to speak. It is important to break that irritating affective factor and get them out of their comfort zone; not to freak them out, but to freak them out now. So that they will get the chance to say "Been there, done that".

I'm very happy that I'm going to do this for the form 1 students.

Being Specific

on Thursday, 28 October 2010
Well, just so you know.. if you're going to be a teacher, there's such a thing as item analysis.

I'm sure you're wondering what that is.

It's basically counting what your students answered, how they answered it, and what were the options they missed. It sounds complicated when I put it this way... in other words, you do:

1. Take a students answer sheet and type in Microsoft Excel:
     a) what was answer number 1? A
     b) what was answer number 2? C

... and this goes on for ALL the questions.

So, fellow teachers... imagine if 1 paper has 40 questions...

You have 30 students per class,

Multiply 5 classes.

Well, I'm not that good in maths anyway.

I just know it's a lot.

English School Song

on Friday, 22 October 2010
I'm proud to announce that after a long period of discussions, evaluations, and talking...

SMK Bukit Garam II has an English school song.


I'm proud to say that 4 Dalton managed to do a decent job with my help to translate/rewrite the song. I didn't know that they started singing the English song EVERYDAY instead of the BM song! That just shows how excited they are and how patriotic they are now with a song that they created on their own.

SMK Bukit Garam II
English School Song

SMK Bukit Garam II
The school that we really love,
With our pride we proclaim its name,
The hope of our glorious land.

All the teachers kind and diligent,
Always educating us,
Towards fantastic achievements,
To bring the best out of ourselves.

Our lovely school full of harmony
Knowledge is our cherished prize,
Our academy, we pledge loyalty
to be bright, astute and devout.

We are students of the greatest school,
Always steadfast in our strides,
To be the best of all mankind,
Victorious now and for all time,
Victorious now and for all time,
Victorious now and for all time.

proclaim – say out loud
glorious land – great country
harmony – peace and calm
academy – place of study
pledge loyalty – give commitment
cherished – care about deeply
astute – smart/honourable
devout – committed
steadfast – don’t easily give up/steady
strides – forward movements/walking with big steps

Written by 4 Dalton 2010
Supervised by Tan Shueh Li @ Adrian (English Teacher)
Approved by Siti Suraya Jamil (Head of English Department)
Approved by SMK Bukit Garam II Principal Tuan Haji Mordin Bin Haji Mohd Daud

Testing Taboo

on Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Watching my students do their exams really gets my mind going about writing about testing and evaluation of English in our curriculum. It's really interesting to see the test split into the different sections - different aspects of the language are being tested. Of course, upper forms and lower forms have different sections (though some might seem similar).

I think that if you look at the details of the exam, you would find that it actually encompasses a wide range of compartments of English that might prove very valuable for testing. Simplistically, the test tries to handle both comprehension and grammar. More interestingly, I would like to talk about the balance between these 2 components in the exam.

Personally, I don't see many components of the exam testing a student grammatically. Which explains the second language idea because comprehensible input/output is one of the biggest issue in second language learning.

Let's take a look at the 1st paper of the lower forms:

SECTION A - Graphical Cues
SECTION B - Rational Cloze
SECTION C - Phrasal Verbs
SECTION D - Reading Comprehension
SECTION E - Literature

I think almost all the sections deal with comprehension accept the Rational Cloze. Sometimes, in the literature section, they could ask about definition but that's not a whole section dedicated to grammatical functions.

It clearly shows that there is a solid structure for testing the students. Therefore we should conclude that the original idea of the structure of the exam is VERY valid.

So why are the standards dropping?

Some things, you know... but you just can't say it.

Feelings o Feelings

on Saturday, 16 October 2010
Announcing my re-appearance after a long absence. I am feeling a bit emotional these few days.. reasons? Not too sure..

To come to think of it, being a teacher is difficult.. not difficult because the students drive you up the wall because to me, it's the nature of the job. The most difficult part is not to let your own feelings control you and release the feelings to the students.

I had experienced this situations before when teachers released their anger or negative emotions to the students. Back when I was a student, I just dislike these teachers because they treated us that way.

I wouldn't deny that I did it before. But... I am glad that I realized it and will switch the mood immediately. It's not fair to the students.. not knowing what happened, they'll be scolded and scowled at.

But I am only human.. have feelings too.. get moody once in a while..


being a teacher... I guess.. I just have to learn how to control it and not channel my negative energy to the students.

I love my students to be cheerful... my class to be fun and not dead silence.

Being a teacher? Not easy.. but I will never give up.

Going Graphic

on Thursday, 14 October 2010
Just an announcement...

Starting next week (not exactly sure when), there'll be some interesting additions to the blog posts.

At least, I know I'll be adding something more which I never had.

I always thought that the site was kinda missing something when it didn't have that. I'm glad that I can now contribute a little bit with the additions. I'm sure the message will also become clearer and it'll be more interesting to the readers who have yet to see...

... pictures.

Share the Love

on Wednesday, 13 October 2010
Well, after blogging for a while and realising that this blog has a small following... I thought it's time to take this blogging thing up a notch.

Yeah... I think I should take this thing seriously..

With great power, comes great responsibility...
                                                            -Ben Parker-

I recently purchased a Canon MP245 printer with 3 in 1 functions (printer/scanner/photocopier). Having now taught for a little while, I think sharing and giving things out to other teachers is crucial if I were to be really serious when I talk about trying to improve and making a difference.

I wanna make a difference. That is one of the many reasons why I wanted to be a teacher. In fact, probably it's one of the biggest reasons why I decided to be a teacher.

Therefore, I also want to say that if there are any teachers who want certain exam papers from Sabah, or are not sure about some of the schematics and answer schemes for the School Based Oral Assessment (SBOA) and other things, I am willing to share these documents (which aren't confidential anyway) for free. 100% FREE.

Not sure what I mean or how this whole thing goes?

Let me break it down to ya:

1. You want to see the PMR trial exam paper from Sabah.
2. You email me at adriantan_85@yahoo.com; or just message in Facebook; or if you know me personally, call me and tell me what you want.
3. I'll tell you about the availability of the test and if I can share it (only if it's confidential).
4. I scan the paper, and email it to you.
5. You receive the email.
6. You jump in joy and give me virtual kisses and hugs.
7. I slap you with a restraining order.

Well, you can skip steps 6-7 if you're not a stalker...

... but teachers (being professionals), I think you know how this goes. This is just to show that I really appreciate the followers and readers who have been loyal in reading my blog entries.... this is just something I can give back.

Plus... I just want to share the love.

Hanging on

on Tuesday, 12 October 2010
Following up with my debating programme...

Looks like the only people who are truly enthusiastic about the whole thing are 2 students. I don't think it is because of them not grasping the language and cannot understand the language that is being used while the discussions are ongoing but I think it is the nature of debates that are scaring people off.

I thing this whole debating things is enigmatically shrouded with fear.

I would assume that debates aren't for everyone but I was kind of hoping that students were more interested since they have never gotten the chance to do something like that.

Maybe I'm just rubbing it in more by saying that I think that those who are interested could probably be just holding on because they don't want to disappoint me.

Fingers crossed

A Teacher's Blessing

on Wednesday, 6 October 2010
Really sorry that I've been going AWOL just like that.... ahhh ahhHHH AHH CHOOO~!~~~!

As you can see in the previous sentence... I've been caught with the flu that's been going around here.

Lately, there has been not much going on.. even in classes because everyone is too caught up in exams (flu as well). Everyone is busy prepping for the exam... even form 1,2, and 4 are on holidays which is good because... AHHHHHH CHOOOOOOOOOOOOO~!!~!.... you get the picture...

Well, I know it's kinda late cause they have already started yesterday...



on Tuesday, 28 September 2010
This month was all about the festive celebration of the Muslim's Hari Raya. It's a really big occasion no matter where you are in Malaysia. Trust me, the number of open houses you will go to is proof of the grandeur of this festival.

So important; my class had a version of it

Being the usual prying and nosy teacher, I tell my students to write about their celebrations.... which of course leads to....


10. My kampung is come by all family during the 1 syawal.

9. My hari raya is the eat eat eat only.

8. My hari raya I watch TV only. I am boring.

7. I eat biskut bangkit, kuih, ketupat, chicken and a lot of eating time.

6. I steal RM1 from each family's prepaid to my phone and SMS my friends very much.

5. I'm very much happy because for visit a house, the tuan rumah give me RM5.

4. I have not so many ang pau this year.

3. I have many housekeeping to do in the kitchen.

2. I talk at my cousin the whole night.
... and...
I shake my mother and father and apologise.

*insert big band jazzy ending with sounds of meriam buluh shooting every now and then

Totemic Figure

on Monday, 27 September 2010
I think it's natural that students find it a little intimidating that there is someone else other than the teacher in the class. Students tend to become very alert that there's a person behind them and they do divert their eyes to the person behind every now and then.

Well, not really ALL the time.. just enough to make it a distraction.

Especially if the person seems to be observing the classroom while ticking boxes in his/her checklist. It becomes a distraction because students want to know what's going on. Of course, being the usual spontaneous me, I NEVER tell them when there is an observer and they are always caught by surprise. I want that genuine response and I don't want them to fake it out when they know another teacher is going to observe them the next week.

It looks like sometimes, this can backfire. They aren't going to be themselves anyway. They become very reserved, more tentative and less daring to try the things that you throw at them in the class. It's a complete back-flip to what I usually get in the class if not worse.

Should I tell them the next time? 

Maybe I should. 

First days

on Monday, 20 September 2010
Coming back after a long holiday requires a teacher to be a trip wire or a jump start. 

You have to be able to jump start 200 over students from 5 classes to make sure they get into the groove of studying. They've been lazying around for a FULL 2 weeks. Trust me, getting them started won't be easy.

You can choose to do some other thing or something more subtle to get them warmed up but that's not how the sadistic teacher would do... no no no... you wanna spice things up right?

Well, go ahead... I was subtle. 

*yawn.... wasn't it tough trying to get up this morning?

Cause I looked like a zombie too.

Bite me.

Trembling knees..

on Wednesday, 1 September 2010

My school held a Choir Competition for Patriotic Songs just last week before the Merdeka's Day Celebration. It was divided into 2 categories - upper and lower secondary.

My kids were pestering me about entering the competition. Of course I encouraged them to enter but I told them to check with their History teacher instead since it was the History Department's program and their History teacher should be taking care of it instead of me.

The next day, they came to me again telling me about the rules and regulations of the competition. They told me that the History teacher was not really helping them. They looked disappointed.

I asked, 'You all betul-betul nak masuk?' They nodded their head frantically. They were really eager in entering the competition, it's just that there was no one who was willing to help them..train them. Therefore, I agreed. The competition was like 2 days away! That night itself, I went back to search some simple songs and downloaded them.

The next day, I sacrificed my double periods of English to train them the song and movements. They chose to sing Warisan by Sudirman and Warna-warna Malaysia by Siti Nurhaliza. Simple songs that they can memorize and sing within that short period of time.

I was suprised that they can actually sing! They remembered their movements..their lyrics and sang their heart out.


It was a different story on THE day of the competition...

First we had problem searching for a power supply because it was held in the canteen. (I know..not conducive at all!) Thank god for a few good fellow teachers, we managed to get one. Second, my kids had to perform first! They were already practically shaking in fear!

They lined up and faced the audience. They bowed at different time because they were so nervous.. they were like robots forced to sing..they forgot all their moves! Poor kids.. As I was recording it, I was laughing at their performance. Their head hung low...refused to look at the audience..they were so shy!

When it was over, they came to me and said,

'Teacher, teacher...takut sangat tadi!'

'Teacher.. kaki macam kaku sudah tadi!'

'Teacher... kami macam robot kan?'

I just smiled and told them, 'It's ok...yang penting kamu sudah cuba'.. the next minute they were back to their active bubbly self.

I guess this is what stage-fright can do to you. You can be very confident and sure...but when you're placed in front of hundreds of sets of eyes...you just turn into jell-o. To me, it was a good exposure to them. And more importantly they enjoyed themselves!


They won the second place for lower secondary category! I can't describe how happy and proud I was. The teachers were amazed...amazed that the weakest class can get second placing..

1 Al Biruni.... Teacher Hoong is so proud of you!

There's Always Room for Improvement

What better way to start the new month than having a whole new look?

The Feminine Touch

With wise feminine opinions (see, I knew I needed that in my blog) by my beautiful co-author(ess) peNakLukduNia, we finally came to an agreement to put this whole cheerful with lots of things going on at the header of the blog as a reflection of what the writers are feeling about the blog right now. I always like to change the outlook of the blog to keep it fresh and new for the readers...

Honestly, having a lot of spare time helps~

After a grueling night of modifications and browsing, finally, the site is complete (hopefully... until I find another irk that bothers me) with new functions that I think should help upgrade the website into another level. First of all, the most important function that I've added is the Facebook Like button at the side below the Blog Archive. Talk about vanity by the Author. I also added a Share It button on each blog-post so that readers can easily share it if they feel it's worth clicking. I see this to be a popular function in websites and many people find this better than linking it by themselves which is a real chore. This way, just click and share... 


I don't know if the summary of blog-posts is helpful but I think it should be good - readers  don't have to scroll a long way down to look at the previous entries. I know now that they need to click the posts to read more but I guess... since I've added the new clicking Share It button and the Facebook Like button, no harm adding another clicking option to the blog site. 


You Got To Put Your Behind~ In Your Past... Eh???

on Tuesday, 31 August 2010
Until today, The Lion King is one of my most-est best-est favourite movie of all time. It's funny, visually breathtaking, culturally colourful, and of course... the music - hmmm... perfecto.

With scenes like this one, can you not watch it?

When I asked my form 4 students if they've watch The Lion King, as usual, only 1 or 2 said yes. The rest of them, even some who seem to be better in English and should be exposed to some form of English media shook their heads when I asked. They know it's a cartoon and they've seen posters or ads about it somewhere but watch the movie? Natha.

I think as their English teacher, it isn't really about giving them exercises and lessons all the time. What I did the past few lessons was to show them these classic English movies (cartoons actually) and they really appreciate the time off. Of course, this is because they did such a great job in their previous exercises hence this movie screening is some sorta reward. Just my way of telling them Don't think I'm gonna show you movies all the time without you guys giving me somethin' somethin'...

There's really no justice in my world if their English teacher didn't give them the chance to watch these kind of movies. It's really sad if throughout their lifetime, they don't get to watch these classics. It's my monumental responsibility that all my students get a chance to watch that movie. It's my duty to let them watch that movie. It's not a waste of time; not a pointless 2 period wasted just watching a movie. In my opinion, these priceless moments of someone finally showing us this English movie we never got to see is important in a student's life. For any cynic out there saying that watching movies is just an easy way out for teachers to relax.. well, I've only got one thing to say to you:

Hakuna Matata

The Land We Spill Our Blood On

on Monday, 30 August 2010
The Colours of Freedom

We're celebrating independence day.

Remember to hold it up high

Yep. It's time for us to hold up our flags high, hoist it to the highest point and let the wind glorify our nations glorious stripes with the breezy gushes. Ah, seeing our jalur gemilang really does bring about a sense of belonging - it does.

Lately though, there have been more chastising commentaries trying to undermine that patriotism. How stone-age-esque are these people to even think that by chanting such vulgar words, the ingrained love for our land can wither just like that. It's by far the worst insult ever; not the fact that our possession towards our homeland is being questioned, but the fact that they think by saying that, we will feel threatened.

Almost every single day since I was a 7 year old kid in Ho Seng Ong (M) till now (being a teacher is the reason why) I've been proudly singing our national anthem with my best bass voice. It's not really about me trying to out-sing others with my melodious and commanding voice, it's the feeling of love towards the land we spill our blood on that keeps the spirits high. Here is something that we would always have as our own, our home and the feeling of being home is warm and comforting.

In other words, if you do not feel you love your country, then I'm truly sorry for you. If you feel that you don't belong to this country, then I'm truly sorry for you. If you feel that some other person can make you feel unattached to your country, I'm even more sorry for you. Never ever let another person make you feel like you're less of a person when you've been living and contributing to this glorious country we call Malaysia.

No one can make me feel like I'm not Malaysian; or not Malaysian enough.

I love my country. It is mine as much as it is everyone's who was born a Malaysian. Be proud of it.

Happy Independence Day.

Kinabatangan's Project Runway

on Friday, 27 August 2010
This entire month was fashion month.

That's right... fashion month.

Girls love fashion

As usual, I love to talk about things that make my students tick. Both my form 4 classes are dominated by girls. In fact, one of the classes only has 2 boys in it. So, fashion is something that definitely the entire class can learn to appreciate (in fact, the boys hopped into the bandwagon too). 

The entire month, we talked/debated/designed and even had a fashion show at the end of this month. You'd be surprised at how much they know and don't know about something that they adore so much. As a teacher, I'm glad to be able to bring in topics of discussion that students personally feel attached to. Honestly, it's difficult to talk about things like Christmas or maybe outer-space travelling when they have no personal attachment to it at all. Having said that, sometimes we still forcefully introduce alien topics to them too. It's all about enriching their present knowledge.

In this show, students have to present out clothes made out of recycled materials or things that people don't want anymore. I told them that the cost to make the clothes should be near 0 because I didn't want anyone to take out any money to make the outfits. This was mentioned a month earlier so that the students have 1 month to design and amend it before the fashion show. 25th of August, 2010 - 2 fashion shows that were even attended by my colleagues (thanks guys) were held and I was really, truly inspired.

My kids can really design.

Seriously... they looked almost like this (too bad I have no camera)

I just want to say BRAVO to the students for coming up with jaw-dropping designs that took me by surprise! I can't believe how talented they are in designing/sewing/improvising unwanted materials into exquisite designs.

Fantastic. I'm really impressed.

Race... That Mean Race Car Ah?

on Friday, 20 August 2010
First of all, let me just say that this is not something you would expect at least during the merdeka month. Not because of patriotism or because you're trying to beat the 1Malaysia drum - it's just not smart. Up until now, there is no conclusion if it was really true and if the alleged person was truly uttering such noxious words.

Of course, I'm talking about the accused Hajah Siti Inshah Mansor (accused because there is no real verdict yet) and her alleged remarks about passengers of this country. If you would take it blindly and accept that whatever that was quoted is true, then I'm sure you are baffled and boggled by the atrocity and idiocy of such behaviour. Not just because the words were completely gut-curdling and blood-boiling but because such a person who is supposedly learned, educated, influential and sophisticated was the one who uttered them.

I seriously feel that instead of heading towards liberalisation and transparency in our country, we are heading towards barbarianism and complete ignorance. Issues like racism, favours based on race, any racial based policies should slowly disappear. Instead, we're taking the highway to more fascism and megalomania I've ever seen reported in the news.

Even worse, this bad news seem to surface in education. My bread and butter; my plateau of hope. There is not 1 excuse for such things to be happening in school because there should be no outlet for these things to be practiced whatsoever. Imagine the times during skin-heads and lynching - are we going to reinvent these barbaric periods of the early 20th century? I certainly hope not and I certainly will give my utter best to shove that stupid (yes, that's just the right word - stupid) mentality from the minds of our youths.

I remember when I was a school student. I was in SMK Seri Putera and it was probably 50% Chinese, 30% Malays, and the rest Indians and Punjabi students. There was nearly no recollection of serious racial tension whatsoever. Of course you'll get the occasional gangs where they consist of one race but that is not racially charged. It's just sorta like a brotherhood where language proficiency bonded them together (Chinese spoke Cantonese and therefore bonded well with others who did the same... etc) - not because they saw race and colour of the skin. I remember all the Malays, Indians, Sikhs, Chinese playing soccer during physical Education, cursing, teasing their fathers' names (very popular among Indians especially), playing pranks on each other, without ever wondering if we can or cannot mix because of our race.

In other words, racial issues were not the crux of our disciplinary problems. I think this didn't just extend to the students but the teachers and everyone who was in SMK Seri Putera as well. I lived in a blissful environment where everyone got along or didn't get along because of who you are as a person without thinking about race. Seriously, it is sometimes very hard for me to comprehend how this whole racial thing suddenly existed in my life because I never had to encounter such radical racist issues in my student-lifetime.

That's the kind of paradise that we should encircle our students with. To never let them notice or realise that there are such things as racial tension. We must try to emulate that life that I once enjoyed in my schooling years to my students now. Make them blind about these things and it'll all work out. Seriously. I want them to be blind about racism and do not know about these kind of things. So, when they see someone from a different race, they are ignorant about affiliating themselves with others based on the colour of their skin.

Yasmin Ahmad's ever endearing ads

I'm in no position to verify these accusations of Hajah Siti Inshah Mansor until there is finality in the reports and investigations but these are the links to what you should see for yourself and judge on your own.

The Star Online reporting that harsh action should be taken if allegations are true

The alleged police report (source unverified)

The Face of the Accused

A Fundamental Right

on Wednesday, 18 August 2010

It's great that the Education Ministry of Malaysia is giving away netbooks to students in my school who do not have these books. These are how the books are given to the students:

1. Only 1 per family
2. Low income families receive it
3. Parents must come personally to take it.

I think this is a great step to emancipate students from a non-tech world. I can't accept it if my students tell me that they do not have a computer or any access to technology at home. This is a good response from the government to ensure that these people are covered in some way. I'm sure the netbooks aren't avant grad in any way but this is enough.

I have to say though that although skeptics would like to talk about political agendas, this act itself is very good for the people receiving these netbooks. You have no idea how many kids I teach tell me that they do not have access to the internet. They don't even know what is Microsoft Word and what it means when I say,

Just go home and Google it if you want to find out more.

The many functions of Google

Even worse is that when I talk about all the technology and the easy access people outside their little world are receiving, their eyes say it all: they want it; they long for the taste of tech. I remember reading an article in BBC once http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8548190.stm saying that access to the internet is now known as a basic fundamental right. I believe so and agree to the argument that one cannot compete in the world if one does not have access to the internet.

Well, the government didn't give free internet access.. just the netbook with a wireless device. The only free wireless internet they can get is if they choose to access the school's wireless network... wait... even that is barred with a password... wait... kids can't bring netbooks to school right? How are they going to enjoy the internet access then?

Hmmm... a free netbook doesn't necessarily mean free internet access eh?

Let's take it step by step, OK?

Visiting Morgues

on Friday, 13 August 2010
It's normal that teachers approach different classes differently. It's not that you're using a different method in teaching your content. You're approaching the students humanistic-ly in different manners.

Put it in uglier terms, you like classes, and you like certain classes less.

Is that OK?

I find myself being very biased lately to certain classes. In these classes, I become very pretentious and fake when teaching. I think it's not that obvious to the students because partly I'm kinda good at covering up my emotions - I think a Screen Actors Guild Award would do just fine.

It's not really important whether or not I can or cannot portray that interest in teaching the students. I think it doesn't affect the students that greatly because I still manage to make a boring class into something less burdensome. I don't know why but I think it's just in my innate nature to make sure that my class stays vibrant even if we're not doing much... sometimes, just reading and writing exercises can become light if I manage to bring a light mood into the classroom.

I'm more concerned about self-fulfillment. It's not so fulfilling when you're not genuinely interested in the students participation. It's not fulfilling when you are jumping up and down, being spirited, hyped up; come out an hour later feeling as if you just visited a morgue. Not just any morgue, a morgue where the corpses have been there for ages because no one comes to claim them.

This ain't an oven

I don't like morgues. I don't know who does. That's a good imagery actually... *pats self on the back

I honestly don't like the fact that I'm feeling that way. I want to be able to go into each and every class and come out from it feeling like the kids really felt some importance in remembering that day's lesson.

I try bringing about themes for the month, I try to discuss about things that they are interested in, I even let them go about debating and arguing. I believe that these activities are not just important to break the affective factors that might be put up so evidently by some students. Does it work? Nah-ah~

... well, maybe it does to some students.

Keeping yourself motivated. That's a teacher's challenge.

My challenge.

They're special...

on Thursday, 12 August 2010
They may not be academically inclined as the others but they'll always have a special place in my heart.

Here is Scenario 1:

Left hand carrying my textbook and my right hand was carrying a rather heavy bag filled with manila cards, old newspapers and some stationaries. As I walk up to the second floor, kids from 1F came running to the stairs, stretching out their hands.."teacher, teacher..saya ambilkan"

About 5 of them came when the things that I was holding only needed 2 kids to carry. One carried my red bag... another carried my textbook and record book... the third kid carried my pencil box. The other 2 were trying to snatch away what the first 3 were carrying.

Here is Scenario 2:

I was carrying the same things that I carried to the first class. This second class of mine just watched me from afar... watched me struggled with these heavy things. When the class ended, my hands were full but not a single help was offered. They were more eager to chase me out of the class so that they can head back home. Many of them waiting eagerly at the door to run out of the class. RUDE...plain rude.


this is supposedly the smarter class...the smarter kids.

Who will have a special place in my heart?

Enough said.


on Tuesday, 10 August 2010
This is just great... after the exam, I realised that students in desperation can come up with the craziest of sentences. It doesn't even have to be relevant to the topic or question. The things that they write can really drive you up the wall; laughing like a cackling witch.


10. Devi is got down from the man.

9. Devi continued staring at the man and apologised and continued.

8. The teachers advisors accompanied 35 students to our home of spastic children.

7. Teachers fed and helped nurses to battle the physically disabled children.

6. The instruction of the section for directed writing was:
     Devi and her friends were shopping at a mega sale. Write the events that occurred after that based on the pictures above. Here are the names they used instead: Mei Ling (twice), Kak Halimah, my sister, me (himself), Era, and not forgetting kakak.

5. The food, clothes, toys, disabled children for all the collect by teachers and students.

4. Devi held up the bag and the man held up the porch.

3. The man hurriedly followed to porch Devi.

2. She went for the bustop to wait for bustop.
Devi banged man nearby and apologised with bag.

*insert big band jazzy ending with lots of confetti and blow horns!

Behind Closed Doors

Recently, this video made headlines in TV3. It showcased the presence of a few teachers and 1 student bickering in what appears to be an office or staffroom. The student was obviously being taken in for some disciplinary action (whether or not that student is at fault is not something I will discuss) or just for plain discussion.

What is more interesting to talk about is not about who is right and who is wrong. I feel very uneasy to talk about that because there are just too many variables and questions that cannot be answered just by watching the video. For example:

Was the student really guilty of something he had done?

Did the teacher say anything to insinuate such behaviour?

Was the exchange by either person before the recording cynical or demeaning in any way?

Is there already recorded past behaviour that led to the hostility between these individuals?

Until these actions and questions can be proven, I dare not say who is right or wrong. In fact, it'll be unjustifiable for both sides to be judged based solely on this video.

What interests me more is the actual recording of this event.

How did this manage to proliferate among outsiders and get into youtube.com? 

How is it possible that the recording staged could have been even made public knowing that the faces of both individuals are clearly seen in the video? 

Why should there be a recording of such behaviour anyway? 

Are we supposed to expose these behaviours in school for others to help teachers discipline children? 

What happened to the confidentiality between disciplinary cases to protect the identity of both children and teachers?

I find this action of recording and posting it up on youtube.com to be very invasive.

Au Naturale

on Monday, 2 August 2010
How did I become good in Bahasa Melayu?

Talking about how I acquired this second language of mine is really interesting.

I don't recall the first decent conversation I had in Malay. I remember some classes in school, I remember the first time I told the kacang putih auntie that:

Itu saya mahu 10 sen. *while pointing at the flying saucer (tapioca) kacang putih.

There's just no recollection whatsoever about my first few experiences using Malay. I don't even remember how was it exactly that I managed to suddenly get over the awkwardness of a new language and started using it just like that... let's think back a little bit..

I remember I had problems talking to a lot of people in primary school in Bahasa Melayu. Not that I refused to speak in Malay but I had too little vocabulary in the Malay Language. I couldn't converse with others and sometimes I even used Mandarin to speak to others; which led my mom to say:

Don't talk to them in Mandarin... use English or Malay. They don't understand Mandarin.

I remember very clearly me having this problem. In fact, shortly after that, I had 2 friends who are Chinese, who can speak Cantonese and English without a problem who conversed exclusively in Malay to me. When the 3 of us hung out in school, we'll be speaking in pure Malay and it just felt natural to us. After that, in secondary school, again I had a Chinese friend who had no problems speaking in Cantonese or English but spoke Malay to me. We didn't feel awkward at all. Completely natural. I'm not even talking about vernacular Malay; I mean, talking to each other almost native-like in Malay.


A teacher in school told me that sometimes if the first contact between the 2 individuals was in a certain language, then naturally it will continue on no matter who you are. I feel that this could possibly be true and it'll be important for me to realise this fact. My students are going through the same process when learning English. It is that one split moment when they use English and it leads on no matter where they are and whatever their condition, when that scenario fits, they will automatically use English.

I need to get them that one friend that they speak in English naturally to.

I need to give them that one situation where they feel so natural to use English.

I See It Now...

on Wednesday, 28 July 2010
Back in action after a week! Finally got myself a decent keyboard.

Today I received a letter from an unknown student.

'Cikgu, ini surat daripada VVVV... murid kelas cikgu'

I took the letter and hesitated to open it up. Not because I was afraid that it's a love letter or whatsoever, but everytime I received his letter before, it was about him not being able to attend school because he did not have enough money to pay for the bus fare or he had to stay at home to take care of his siblings.

This student of mine is from a poor family. He is always absent and when I asked around, I found out that he has to work from time to time to help feed his family. According to his friends, he sometimes has to sell fish from house to house just to earn some money to feed his siblings. His father is jobless and his mother is a full-time housewife. It's rather sad that at such a young age, he has to bear such huge responsibilities when he is supposed to concentrate only on his studies.

Back to the content of the letter, his mom wrote:

' .... memohon cuti kerana kasut sekolahnya rosak dan tidak boleh dipakai....tidak mampu membeli kasut baru....perlu menunggu sehingga mempunyai duit untuk membeli kasut sekolah yang baru...'

I felt sad... pitiful....

He is a good kid.. he studies when he gets the chance to come to school; never causes any problems. It's sad to see that he can't go to school because of his spoilt shoes...it really saddened me.

I used to read stories..just stories about this kind of situation. Now I am seeing it happening.. that it is real. What can I do? I am gonna either give him some money to get a new pair of shoes or refer his case to the school.

He deserves this... He deserves a better life...a life as a kid..as a student.

Tomorrow Never Dies

Today, I was rejected.

That's right. 


Rejected because a student was not willing to participate in a dialogue. Not only was he not interested in participating, he was almost aggressively hostile when rejecting my order to try out a few lines. It ain't difficult, it's just 2 lines for each student. Very reluctantly and almost fiercely he stood up to speak out those lines after some hustling (quite aggressively on my part). 

2 things I realised. He did not want to reject my encouragement and he did not want to speak out too. There was like a small argument going on in his mind while he was being very reluctant and unwilling to participate when told to. I realised that at that point in time, persuasion was not going to work. I told him blatantly that if he ever acted out like that again, not only will it make me furious, it'll only make me more interested in going after him for these scenarios all the time in classes.

He knows he can't get away with it. He knows that eventually he'll have to cave in. He even knows how much of a losing battle he is fighting when it comes to not wanting to participate in my classroom. He isn't a bad student (of course, this whole class is a weaker class) but just poor in proficiency.

After the class, very sternly I said in front of the class:

Pumpkin (not his real name), see me outside.

I wrapped my hands around his shoulder, he was already starting to tear up while I started talking, and asked him what was his problem. He started to say how embarrassed he feels because he is so weak in English (he is, but that's not my worry) and doesn't want to make a fool out of himself in front of the whole class. 

Malu cikgu, kawan ketawakan nanti.
                            ... his words.

I told him how proud I am with him that he was willing to tell me this. Not only did I need to encourage him, I told him that things are not going to change if he just sat at a corner and hoped that I wouldn't notice him. I said that his friends aren't worthy to judge him at all. I, being the teacher was the perfect person to tell him if he's good or not. He seemed to give in a little bit and started saying that he was going to try to be a little bit braver the next time. I had to make it clear that I didn't resent him as a student. I only resented his action of rejecting my offer to try to improve.

Of course, throughout this conversation, English was minimal.

However, getting the message across this time was important. I needed him to know that whether he liked it or not, he'll have to face the fact that everyone's opinion about his proficiency aren't important. At least, not more important than me trying to make him become better in English. 

Tomorrow will come and I'll once again call him out to practise English. 

Tomorrow will come and he'll have to stand up and try his best to speak out or do exercises that I give him without fear of embarrassment and failure. 

Tomorrow will always be there for me to challenge him again and again till he becomes good or better than what he is now.

He can't run from it.

I'll always catch up.

Suiting Up

on Monday, 26 July 2010
Well, as usual, I love to have specific themes when going into my classrooms. It sort of puts students in a prepared mood and I like tuning them with a certain idea but shocking them with a twist whenever possible. It's sort of like them expecting it to be something (because they know the theme of the month) but they will always be caught by surprise every now and then..

... this month for my form 4 classes is Business and Corporate Month

For this theme, I told them that it's high time they started thinking like working adults. Not just about ambition and thinking about some product but to be like a professional and act out like a professional. Therefore, each group in the class (which was already decided a long time ago) must conduct 1 interview of a personality they thought was celebrity-like or admirable. 

Of course, conducting an interview with someone respectable requires them to gear into professional and corporate mode. They'll have to prepare questions, write out simple transcripts of the interview, and complete basic information about the personality they have interviewed. The good thing about this is that they can choose anyone they liked i.e. teacher, relative who is successful, village head, head prefect... the list goes on.

This one can be slightly time consuming so it's a month long project. They have to make sure they use English most of the time because the transcript and the questions have to be in English anyway. Of course they can use their native tongue while interviewing (I won't be there to monitor them) but a simple talk with the teachers they are interviewing would give me an idea of how they conducted the interview. I recommended the interview to be short and simple with the questions just pertaining about basic information about educational history and achievements. Students must show me their list of questions before conducting the interview. Students must also make sure an appointment is made before conducting the interview as well.

So far, the groups have completed their interview.

I can't wait to see their results.

Gifts Ungiven

I'm honestly very irritated by my students not completing my work. I'm being dead serious when I say that all my work does not take any real hassle to complete at all. Most of it is probably already done in class and students have to just complete it at home. There's really nothing much to fuss about. If I realise that the work is slightly difficult, I give them ample time to complete it; fully aware of competency being a problem and it'll take time to finish.

I told them that if they still could not produce something for me within that given time, it really does show problems not in their levels of intellect but their interest in personal development. I have no problems working with students with poor proficiency or have many errors in their work. The point is to complete the work with those errors so I can help them where they are at a lost. If you don't do it, I have no idea which part of the puzzle is missing in your English labyrinth.

The greatest pride that my students can have is my undying interest in their work, progress, and development. I told them that if they continued to show inconsistency in completing my work punctually, they will end up losing that privilege that I give them so loosely. I can revert to your ordinary by the book and don't ask don't tell teacher. I can just do that - nothing will happen to me, life still goes on for me. It's them that need this attention. You can't expect me to continue being interested in someone who is not interested in his/her own development. I'll push for it of course but everyone has their threshold when it comes to persuasion and encouragement.

In fact, if I selectively and consciously tell them that I am only interested in people who show me that interest, they will find themselves set aside while those who are punctual and proactive continue to advance due to my keen attention towards them. Never will I tell them that I completely neglect them forever. Just until I see some initiative from them; to start showing some backbone and put their backs in completing my work. I will never give up on them even though they stop. It is purposeful neglect that I do to push them to gain back my attention and confidence in their work - which is something I constantly remind them that I'm so keen to be involved in their development.

I don't give up.

I stop giving.


on Saturday, 24 July 2010
The one thing that I have zero tolerance for is tardiness and neglecting to do my work. I am an extremely flexible teacher and I would like to think that I'm cool when talking to my students. Well, even if I'm not perceived so, I try my best to make sure that my students know that I'm pretty relaxed and won't be up their grill all the time like how some teachers might be.

So, when kids come up to tell me that they did not finish my work...

... it really calls for:


10. "OK... my work is not done... Great." *turn to the class monitor. "Pass me the machete."

9. "Very good... Everyone, please give a round of a applause to our greatest achiever. Really, don't be shy. Give him/her a hand... c'mon... you there, put down your pencil, give him/her a hand." *make sure they applaud for a good 5 minutes.

8. Drop down on your knees and start crying. Whip out a knife, put it to your throat and threaten suicide until he/she puts the work in front of you.

7. Give him/her a warm embrace. Hug him/her real tight. While hugging him/her, pat his/her back, give a slight tug every now and then for a good 30 seconds, and whisper in his/her ear, "You better watch your back kid.."

6. Stare at the student straight at the face with your nose right in front of his/hers (like you are almost kissing). Clasp the students shoulders, clench your teeth and tell the kid about how you once killed a cockroach with your spit.

5. Lift up your hand suddenly as though you want to slap the student; while he/she is trying to avoid or react, give the student a nice smile and just pat his face (almost caressing). Give the shake of the head slightly, chuckle every now and then, and keep on repeating the name i.e. "Hmm... he he he, Charlie, Charlie... Oh, Charlie, Charlie..."

4. Roll your sleeves, unbuckle your belt, push your hair to the back, gesture that you're wiping sweat off your brow, squat, stomp the right leg wide to the right followed by the left leg wide to the ride; slam your palms on your knees, and start the haka.

3. Walk up right to the front of him. Don't say anything, stare at the student straight to the face blankly, every few seconds, turn your head around his/hers as though searching for something, then scream at the top your lungs "HELLO!!!!!!!!?????? ANYONE HOME?!?!?!?!?!"

2. Slap him/her on the behind and purr like a cat.
... and...
Tell the student to address him/herself as The One Who Forgot Homework when talking to you until The One Who Forgot Homework remembers to bring it. Everyone in class must follow this rule when referring to The One Who Forgot Homework.

*insert big-band jazzy ending with lots of exercise books thrown into the air

To Expect The Unexpected and to Accept the Unaccepted

I always tell myself that students are only hampered by their proficiency in the language. That doesn't mean one slightest bit that they are mentally retarded or do not have the capacity to generate ideas. Even if they are passive, most probably they are just not trained to bring up these ideas even if it was lingering in their heads.

So, for my better form 4 classes, I told them that it's time they were treated as adults. It's time to talk to them about serious things. It's good to talk about issues that really matter.

I started talking about globalization.

A world without speed bumps.

I didn't expect them to suddenly start spewing out their ideas and conceptual opinions about globalization immediately. I know that it is a topic that doesn't scream either fun or lively. I just thought that the kids would appreciate being treated as adults and would want to stake their claim as equals when talking to their teacher.

BIG mistake.

They just  have no idea what is supposed to be said and had no idea what the topic was all about. They just could not participate because they have no idea what is going on and could not provide their opinions because they had none.

Now that becomes a problem.

The concept of discussion can be flushed down the drain because they can't provide any opinions. So I just ended up informing them about what goes on and what is to be expected if ever globalization comes full circle. They were amazed and astonished by the idea of a borderless world. The lecture became somewhat one way and did not muster into the engaging situation I had hoped for. I always want my class to be lively, full of opinionated students even if their ideas are sometimes immature and incomplete in details.

Although I do lecture sometimes; I've never really appreciated that sort of teaching. I only do it if the class is really weak and they need a lot of examples beforehand. In other words, some classes require >70% of time allocated in the preparation step of your lesson plan. I feel this is really old school in terms of the style of teaching. I'm a person who believes in students coming up from their seats and making the mistakes in the classroom during the learning process.

In this class of globalization... I was trying not to resort to that... but I did.

... I guess it's OK.