on Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Well... I told my form 5 kids that back when I was a kid.. I used to dream about being a monster truck driver.

That's right. A monster truck driver.

So, I told them that when we were all small, we never feared dreaming BIG. As we start to mature, a lot of us tend to think small. So, I told them that it was OK to be unconventional and different. In the pursuit of your dreams or ideas, it is OK to be daring enough to say that YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Hence...


                                                           ... unedited as always
#10 Pro skateboarder

#9 I want to become a pirate! tapi tak bunuh orang.

#8 Ratu Cantik Fillipina

#7 Buat muka Hagemaru untuk semua orang.

#6 uses costum Mickey Mouse and dance at shopping mall.

#5 Patung Barbie yang comel dan wujud.

#4 I want to become a first man penyembur haiwan ternakan yang paling sihat.

#3 I want to be teaching a monkey tree.

#2 I want to become a model man baby.
... and
Mengintai cicak

*insert big band jazzy ending with the beautiful song Melangkah Megah.


on Friday, 25 June 2010
It really is sweet when a class throws you a surprise birthday party.

No matter how you feel that they shouldn't have.

You just feel  so happy that they did.

There really is no other way to describe it. Students can really catch you by surprise and do things that make your heart flutter. Just the fact that one of them brought cake or kuih, you immediately feel so appreciative and become so embarrassed that you were posting THE TOP TEN LIST about them yesterday.

Thanks kids.

I'm very happy.

Why so serious?

on Thursday, 24 June 2010
I can't stand it. I try to become a different, more serious teacher just to see how I can shake things up a little bit and make my students wonder about my moods. I like the fact that I can get quite unpredictable at times, catching them off guard with my antics (whether good or bad). I feel that it's kind of important that students don't get you too well and start to assume certain things from you even before you enter the classroom. I also don't like it if students are not in the mood or are feeling too stressed out when listening to your class. It's of course my doing as well if I have made the classroom into something less tolerable but... I try. I do.

So, my comfortable place in the classroom is when I crack jokes. I can't help it. I'm this joke cracker. I'm this wise guy who tries to make fun out of everything I see and it is well accepted (I think) in my lessons. At least, I know some of them are genuinely tickled by some of my jokes or pranks. However, I do feel that it is also important to not let the students feel like you're a clown and allow them to make fun of me. They can make fun of my jokes but not me. 

Anyway, getting that line clear is not the problem. The problem is how do I try to change my pesona every now and then. I want to be the teacher that has multiple personalities. They can't put a pin on me. I want them to be on their toes at all times so that I can catch them off guard instead of them getting into a rhythm before I even start the classroom.

Probably though, it's not entirely a bad thing. Maybe if the kids are already into a certain rhythm before I enter the classroom, it's not entirely a bad thing. Assuming that they are all out to study, maybe getting into the groove before the classroom will make things more smooth sailing. Maybe it's just me thinking too much about things that don't really matter. I realise too that I feel the need for people to become too existentialistic. In other words, I feel that sometimes the actions of a person though very noble can be completely bogus if I know that what they do does not equate to what they want to do.

Well, having said that, I feel that students already know that they can expect a few laughs in my classroom. They know that I know my stuff and they can't shrew away from it. They know they can't cheat me in terms of the language or try to get unruly while I'm around. They know that there's an unwritten contract if things get too ugly and I don't like it, they're bound to suffer bad consequences. I guess, probably they are waiting for those jokes and tricks to surface at times because they want to break out from the placid norms of the everyday classroom. Probably the other classes are not getting the necessary endorphin excretion that they are longing for these short bursts of Hu! Hu!'s and Ha! Ha!'s.

Why so serious?
-The Joker-

Sabah bah

Recently, I had a friend (who is also a junior in my TESL programme in UPSI) who was very enthusiastic about coming over to Sabah. Apparently, she wants to venture to another place and really loves the idea of living by the ocean i.e. Sempoerna. I think it's really good to hear that there are other people who are very enthusiastic coming into the battle.

Watch out! Orange power a comin'

Not just a fellow teacher... an English teacher. Aren't you welcome!! Besides Kota Kinabalu (which I still don't believe is flooded with English teachers) the entire state of Sabah or the entire country is in need of your power. Your caped crusading antics (I heard, she loves an orange cape) are all needed in this part of the world. Don't just swoosh in and leave an orange trail.

Help them realise their potentials.

I really like it that she's not just enthusiastic but apparently going against the wanted path by her folks. Talk about taking the road less traveled by.. (Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken). It takes a lot of guts and rebelliousness to take a whole new step in life.

I know some of those people who have been there and done that are looking at this and going,

Ah... young blood; always fiery and hot blooded at first.

Well, so what? Aren't we all supposed to be like that? What makes this even more necessary is that we want this to keep on as long as possible. We shouldn't snuff out this fire burning in this individual trying to go far and wide. It's all about passion. The driving cataclysmic emotion is important. Especially when you're young (including myself) you need this type of burning effect in your mind. Don't let the blue waves hit your beach just yet. Let the Krakatoa sink the island first, an isle will soon emerge with paradise right in the middle.

A mission.

If you're coming to Sabah with a mission in your head, I foresee great changes around you. In fact, I would love to say that the word changes undermines the true meaning of a situation that will definitely happen for your students when you start stampeding through; and that word is progress. We are not interested in change if you're just going to let the leaves wither around you as you walk. We invite people who are bold enough to step forward, claim that they will make a change, and indeed take the arduous steps to enforce those changes. The Martin Luther Kings and the Nelson Mendelas who take hold no prisoners in their believe that it takes just one person to flip the entire book of history...

... OK, maybe it isn't that dramatic.


For those about to take such bold steps, it's important to realise that this is a step that you must choose without regret. There is no point taking this wonderful first step and then not willing to go through all the way. I will say this that any step you take after the first step is not as easy as they claim to be. Probably after many years, you might get used to many things but at the beginning, it's going to take some toll out of you. It's not meant to shut you down. It's meant to poke on your burning flame. You're supposed to burn it right back.

I welcome such fire.

Sabah bah.


There's something about presentations that scare the hell out of people. I think the fact that you're in front, especially if a teacher is watching and analysing every movement of yours makes one person babble the funniest things.


10. I want to go to see the Dubai in India.
9. Student A: I want to see the many animal species in Africa.
    Student B: How many species there at Africa?
    Student A: 20 000
    Me: *Gasp. Hmmm... I don't think so... but I think he wanted to ask how many species do YOU tend to see there?
    Student A: Oh... 2000

8. I want to go to Australia. What I want to do there is to can touch the water.

7. I want to go to Mount Everest in India.

6. Hmmm.. Haha... Hmmmm... hahaha... Hmmmm.. hahaha... I want... I don't know

5. We go to the seafood restaurant in Tanjung Aru. We spend about RM1500.

4. We went to the India factory to buy the original saree. Is RM25.

3. The best is go to Japan and take plane to Horishima.

2. That Japan we arrive, then we take a boat to the city.


1. In Japan, we go to the musuem to see the animals. EH!!! No... zoo ka?

*insert big band jazzy ending with lots of elephants trumpeting

A picture paints more than a thousand words

on Tuesday, 22 June 2010
I'm surprised.


I'm very surprised.

Hmmm Hmmm


Yes sir.


Indeed sir.

... sorry. Just had to say a couple of modified lines from the Gulp and Gasp drama in the form 4 literature component.

The reason why I mentioned those words was because I realised that my students who are born and bred here in the beautiful land of Sabah are not as Sabahan as I thought they were. I mean, of course they are Sabahans but I realised that most of them... no, no, A LOT of them have not been to the places that I have since I arrived here to teach English.

When I talked about the beautiful island of Mabul and Kapaalai, they were in awe and bespectacled by the pictures and images that I show them. When I talk about the hot springs and canopy walks in Poring, they listen attentively as though I was talking about a journey to Phuket. Seriously, though these kids might be citizens here, I feel slightly more patriotic than them about Sabah. I guess that's kinda weird but not completely surprising.

 A picture is definitely worth more than just a thousand words

Anyway, as the person who has been to those places, I thought I'd share with them the pictures of the places that I've been to in Sabah. I told them to pretend to be promoters of these places. In fact, I told them about how the people who are tourist guides and trekkers were pretty eloquent in communicating in English even if they were very lowly educated formally (I have to say formally because being educated is such a relative term).

They have to know that being highly educated is not the due credit to become proficient in anything at all. It is not entirely dependable on the things you do in class that lead towards the improvement of English. It is the embodiment of your entire commitment to embracing the need and desire to learn the language that makes you move forward. I'm not kidding here when I say, if you only want to learn English in the classroom and expect it to make you improve without any other form of experiential learning; there is very little future ahead of you.

He huffed and he puffed and he blew the cot down

on Friday, 11 June 2010

Sorry for not being able to post the video here... I'm honestly quite lazy to figure out the HTML needed to post the video. Anyway, let's not make this about me.

Just a couple of days ago (I know this is old news) I went to search for this purported (confirmed true now) video about a 2 year old toddler smoking packs like my uncle who has been smoking for the past 40 years.

2 year old toddler. That's right. Just in case you didn't take me seriously.

I mean, as a teacher, reading this sort of news, watching the video of the baby puffing Dunhills like it was a pacifier really makes me feel wrong. That's right, there's no other word to describe the feeling when I was watching the video. It was just wrong.

Just which part of the toddlers upbringing included cigarette training? Did the parents send him to cigarette training school? Did they look at him and say:

Oh look, he's crying. Give him a ciggy.

Oh look, he's tired of his toys. Give him a ciggy.

Oh look! He said papa! Give him a ciggy.

Oh look! He laughed when I peek-a-booed him! Give him a ciggy.

Something is imbecilic and perverted in the minds of those who educated him that way.
The people who caused his addiction or neglected in forms of inaction should be given some sort of punishment. 

2nd Semester, 3 Goals

on Wednesday, 9 June 2010
It's been quite a while since I've posted anything in the blog or in my Facebook account. I guess being back in Ipoh really reverts me back to my old self where I don't even bother socialising virtually because I don't find the need to do that back home in good old Old Town Original Kopitiam.

This really reminds me of the need to utilise the internet facility back in Kinabatangan to the fullest. I really feel that the internet is an escape from the ongoing conditions of a non-English-speaking society in that area. Don't get me wrong; Sabah/Sandakan is a completely different place - I get to speak English almost everyday with the people I mix with. The tennis players and the social circle back in Sandakan is well-versed in English and the community there is similar to what I can find here in Ipoh. Besides, it's just about an hour away from good ol' Kinabatangan.

However, I must not forget my initial goal of staying in Kinabatangan. For sure the area is not English speaking primarily or secondarily; my goal is to create a schooling environment that forces/encourages/persuades (I personally like the last word) my students to learn English. The beginning of the second semester is the starting point. The second semester is the time where I cannot say:

I'm still trying to settle down. I'm still not sure about my own welfare yet.

I'm already settled down (I would like to believe so anyway). It's time to take some drastic actions now. I'm sure I'll face resistance and troubles from students or administrators as well. I'm sure enforcing English and nearly pushing aside their native tongue will come with significant resistance. It isn't just going to be a short NO or Cikgu, lebih baik jangan la ya... susah kalau buat begitu. It might be silent negligence or evasion from taking action (which to me is worse).

I have drawn out 3 main plans for my vision in that school. Being as realistic as I can (cause my girlfriend says I'm too idealistic), I figured that if I can get these 3 things going in the 2nd semester, I'll be pretty darn happy with myself.

Here are the 3 ongoing plans in my head right now:

My form 4 class is English Speaking Only. This is also extended to the 1st form 1 class that I teach too.
I told this to my form 4 class that I'll enforce penalty systems (monetary) and I'll make the class an English Speaking Only Zone (ESOZ) whenever I'm around. In fact, for the class that I'm holding, I become and ESO  teacher with monetary penalties that I see fit. They agreed to it - very encouragingly in fact because they never had anyone enforce such strict English Speaking rules to them before. They seem to be interested and afraid but most of them seem positive about this new amendment. I'm not going to back down on this one. We'll see how they rise up to the challenge. I hope it's not just warm chicken shit (translated from the famous Malay proverb).

English School Song
Of course this is going to be really difficult. I'm not going to change the melody nor the minus one because I don't have the facilities to record a new song altogether. I'll just think of a way to translate the old Malay song into an English one or rewrite the entire school song altogether in an English version. I feel that since the students are being forced to sing songs everyday in the assembly, getting one English song in there would be of great change (notice how I say change and not improvement; I'm not sure of its eventual effect). Also, I realised that in Ipoh, the good schools that are English speaking primarily all have English school songs. This brings up the question of: Did they have an English song because they are using English as their main medium of instruction or did they force this whole English school song to signify that they want to become English medium primarily? Either way, I feel that an English song would be fresh and LIFE CHANGING for all of the students.

 Form 1 Future Debating Team
Lets face it. The form 4s and 5s are alright but not that promising if they are sent to tournaments. I can't expect the school to dump out money as well for a team that I cannot promise any achievement at all as well. It's difficult to teach old dogs new tricks and although many of them are high in spirit, time is just against their interests. I'm really sorry as their teacher for saying such demotivating things to them but I'm trying to be realistic. If they wanna join as their own personal enrichment, I fully encourage them to do so; future tournaments in 1 or 2 years time, I'm banking on the younger generation. Train them for a year or 2, and send them to tournaments when they are in form 4 or so. (of course, the new form 1s that come in next year will be enrolled the same way. Pelapis (new blood) is important.)

My form 1 class is showing very good potential in speaking and forcing themselves to use English. I think due to their young age, acceptance to forced change is easier because they are more disciplined and are probably afraid of my stern-tiger-eyes. Anyway, as a reward for their excellent responses, I want to take 3-6 students out from that class and isolate them for hardcore debating practices. I don't care if they like it or not or see any future in their own life, this is my judgment as their teacher on what will help them become more competitive later on. Hopefully, this will spawn an elite English speaking group that is envied, revered, and sought after by all students who aspire to be good in English for a reason. That's right, if their society does not show them a clear example of when, where, and provide a platform for using English; Sir Adrian Tan will show them the yellow brick road.


Breaking it down

on Wednesday, 2 June 2010
How is Sabah?

That's the typical question that they ask me when I get back to Ipoh. I don't really know how to answer the question because there are many aspects of the place (which I assume that they're asking about my teaching career here as well) that are too different to be chunked into one definitive answer.

Being the typical cynic, I always give an answer which doesn't directly answer the question but in turn questions back the person asking the question. I know who you are and I'm sorry. I don't mean to evade the question. I'll try to break down the answers here as much as possible.

Your typical semi-rural area. Not really a down-and-out place but just quiet enough to make you want to get out of it occasionally to let loose. The place has nothing interesting besides nature sites which you have to drive for a couple of hours to reach. Small town, definitely livable and comfortable if you don't plan to live in your typical 'terrace house' or don't plan to do anything but play sports all day (sports facilities that I go to are all free of charge: tennis, badminton, volleyball, soccer. Futsal is not free by the way). My place is a really low populated area which means you can get anywhere comfortably with a bike. Also, being a small place, everyone knows everyone. Even if you don't know their names, you know their designated positions in the area:
1. The Electrician
2. The Rich dude.
3. The Pirate
4. The teachers/PPD fellas
5. The Restaurant Fella
6. The Boss
7. The Samseng
8. The Nice Aunty
9. The Nice Uncle.

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Living there is OK I guess, if you're the kinda guy that can tolerate lesser standards and don't mind having NO entertainment besides sports and what you can get in your own home, Kinabatangan is a fine place to be. In fact, being the new guy there, everyone gets a little bit excited about you. Really.

Nothing surprising. Nothing in the system can catch you off guard anymore. I'm not surprised by the lack-there-offs or the red-tape that comes with the job. I'm also not surprised by the level of education in the area or the one or two EXCELLENT students you can get  from such a place. In fact, I think the only thing that surprises me is the size of the school I'm working at vis a vis the size of the place surrounding it. Generally, the people there (colleagues and staffs) are very nice people. There are of course a select few that you wish you could burn alive but nothing surprising. I'm sure you find these sort of bums wherever you land in. The teaching aspect... hmmm... it's kinda challenging because I feel my TESL course is a little bit irrelevant most of the time. I feel that in most of the classes, a TEFL student would really feel comfortable because that's what it is most of the time... foreign.
But... don't let that get into your head. Being a teacher is challenging regardless of the type of challenges you're facing. You'll just trade off one for another so might as well be happy with what you are given. Just remember that whatever challenges you face is your problem, not someone else's. Give your kids a break; don't make them your outlet.

I've never been island hopping like this ever! There is not better way to write up about holidaying in Sabah than just giving you the link to my facebook page.!/album.php?aid=182085&id=507101837

A picture paints a thousand words.

You have to experience it. Even the pictures don't justify the beauty that I've witnessed in Mabul and Kapalai. You have to go there and feel it on your skin. Come back, and post your pictures for others to drool at.

My Relationship
Long distance? No? Are we always together? Are there any problems stemming from career starts? I would say that everyday becomes a challenge in terms of having to understand each others' position. We've been having more bickering sessions (most of it coming from me) but I cannot help but think that I've been really lucky to have the best woman in the world. Whatever problems we could have now or would probably face in the coming years, the best thing that could come out from all of that is that...

... we'll be facing them together.

In the words of Robert Frost,

and that has made all the difference.

So, how am I going to answer the question,

"How is Sabah?"

My answer:

"Still feels like the fresh prince,"