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.



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