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.

Seeking Equilibrium

on Thursday, 22 July 2010
After going through a seminar today, I think I just need to make a few things clear.

Marking papers need consistency. You can't say sweeping statements too casually i.e. Marking these answers is holistic.

I'm sure for a longer essay where students are supposed to utilise their language prowess to the full extent,  marking the language aspect can be a little bit difficult. For example, it's hard to decide which one of these sentences deserve more marks:

I have something important to do tomorrow.

I have an urgent errand to run the next day.

Tomorrow, there are some chores that need fulfilling by yours truly.

In a long essay of 350 words, probably you don't look at individual sentences to mark language. You look at their general usage and maybe notice a few good sections in their paragraphs that show a good command of the language. It's not individual sentences. In other words, marking an essay has a completely different approach compared to marking summaries or novel answers.

The summary and novel section of the PMR exam focuses more on content. If you can provide an example or evidence from the novel you have read, points are allocated. If you are capable of giving reason(s) supported by proof from the novel, points are allocated. In terms of giving them grades for their language, if they are capable of explaining these things needed without any errors, I think we should consider not penalising them at all. Contrastingly, penalise them when they commit errors.

If a student says:

I love the character Mr. Enfield because he is brave. He felt no fear in his heart when confronting the evil Mr. Hyde when Hyde was caught trampling a poor young girl in the streets.


I love the character Mr. Enfield because he is brave. He is not afraid of confronting Mr. Hyde when he hurt a young girl.

For this section, I don't think the second sentence should be not given the same marks for language if he did not write similar to the first sentence. I think both made their point clear with the right evidence without committing any grammatical errors.

For this section and summary, I think it's important to be consistent in giving them marks for language.


on Wednesday, 21 July 2010
According to my blogger dashboard, this post right here is the 100th post.

As always, it's good to recall back the reasons why I write here at all. I'm not sure if there's any real following at all, honestly. Therefore, just to satisfy those who do read my blog..

... it calls for...


10. You've seen me before. You know you want a piece of that hot stuff.

9. You have no idea how to exit from your Firefox or I.E. browser ever since you visited my blog for the very first time.

8. English and teaching is of interest to you because you're probably very good in English but you have NO idea if you are or are not good in teaching.

7. You are addicted to THE TOP TEN LIST

6. You want to know if this Chinese dude would soon crack and one day post the blog entry of Planning a Murder and Making It Look Like an Accident.

5. You realised that reading the education section of The Star or NST isn't your trusted, unfiltered, badgering, fun-filled, and insightful source of information about the education system of Malaysia.

4. You love how students that I write about remind yourself of your ol' dumbass self.

3. You love how the teachers that I write about remind you to rethink about your future plans of having children and sending them to public schools.

2. You don't want children, you never went to public schools, never wore Pallas Jazz shoes, never ever plan to go near children, have no idea what students look like and have no idea that they wear corduroy outfits, had teachers who suck your toes and place altars of you in their homes which makes whatever that I write here completely flabbergasting to you.

.. and
You love the fact that you don't have to be a teacher to experience all the shit that I'm telling you right now.

*insert big-band jazzy ending with lots of paper shredded confetti

*Love is in the air

on Tuesday, 20 July 2010

I have this special affinity and bond towards my own class, 1 Al Biruni. They can be the naughtiest and weakest class, but they definitely have a special spot in my heart.

They can be screaming on top of their lungs for attention; wanting me to go to their desk and pay extra attention to them..helping through their homework. I just don't care... because that is what that makes the class lively. One thing that I am worried about is just that they are too noisy. That's it.

Honestly, these kids call me Mother. I don't really care though sometimes I get weird looks from other teachers. I sit down with them to teach them, play with them...I actually do feel motherly when I'm with them. The majority of them are from poor families and single parent homes. I am protective over them... proud of them when the teachers say that they are good.

Plus they are really sensitive... they know when they should behave because their Mother is angry...they know when to say things to make me happy....and even go all the way to the staffroom to check if I need help with books.

Sweet eh?

These are the lil' things that make me happy...

1 Al Biruni will always be special to me...

When Pussy meets Pushy

Using nursery rhymes to teach can really help when teaching pronunciation or just speaking English in general. In fact, if you get nursery rhymes that are lyrically melodious, students find it so interesting because almost all of them have never heard of classics such as:

Twinkle twinkle little star. (OK, this one is more popular...)

London Bridge (Not the Fergilicious version)

Little Jack Horner

Two Little Blue Birds

Ride a Cock Horse to Banburry Cross

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive.

Sing a Song of Sixpence

... and many more.

This one particular nursery rhyme that I was teaching was interesting, good for introducing some form of WH-Questions and tenses.

Pussycat, Pussycat.

"I did, I did taw a puddy tat!"

For those who aren't familiar with this nursery rhyme; it goes:

Pussycat, pussycat where have you been?
I've been up to London to look at the queen.
Pussycat, pussycat what did you dare?
I frightened a little mouse under her chair.

So... what seemed like a harmless nursery rhyme turned out to be one of the FUNNIEST shit I've ever done in class before. What's even more endearing is the innocence of it all.

It all started when the kids started to say pooshycat (pu'ʃɪkæt) instead of the appropriate pussycat (pu'sɪkæt).

So, as their teacher... it's important to correct them right?

Me      :Class!!! Remember... it's not Pooshycat. It's PussYcat,

Class  :Pussy ah sir?
Me      : Eh.... yeah... 'C'; not 'SHI'
Class  : *talking to each other: Pussy la... pussy. Bukan pooshy. Pussy la. Sir kata pussy.
Me      : *Giggle
Class  : Sir, Pussy right? Pussy kan?
Me      : Yes... it's 'C'. not 'SHI'.
Class  : Oh.. OKOK.
Me      : Say Pussycat for me to hear. 
Class  : PUSSYCAT!
Me      : Good. Say it again.
Class  : *some kids. Pooshycat! 
Me      : NO!!! not... NOT... 'Shi'. It's PUSSYcat.
Class  : Pussy!
Me      : *burst a slight chuckle. Yes. One more time, please.
Class  : PUSSY!
Me      : *index finger signaling for one more. ONE MORE!
Class  : PUSSY!
Me     : Very good. Class dismissed.


on Monday, 19 July 2010

Making my grand entrance with my very first blog entry in my love of my life's blog. Glad that I am blogging with him... we both have many things in common..we are both teaching..and we are teaching English. The difference is that he majors in English and I don't.

If you noticed my title, you must have guessed it right that I am gonna complain about something boring.

Just a brief intro about what I am currently teaching. I am an English teacher to three Form 1 classes.. one below average class and 2 weak classes. So you can imagine how much I have to go through to teach these students English which is actually a foreign language to them. Not only are they weak, they are really hyperactive, especially their mouths. Non-stop talking and giving remarks every now and then, in fact sometimes giving irrelevant remarks that can drive you up the wall.

Just 2 weeks ago, I was given a timetable for extra class. I was assigned to teach 3A English during the extra class. I was happy getting a good class because teaching will be easy and the chance to use English would be more. Today was the class, I went in cheerfully hoping that the class would be active and responsive. To my disappointment, it was the other way round.

The class was awfully quiet. Pin drop silence. They can't or should I say don't want to answer my questions at all.

''Class, have you done active and passive sentences?''

Silence. *Eyes all staring at me

''Do you understand what I am saying?''

Silence. *Still staring

I was like ''Ah..what a dead class...''

I am used to having kids jumping up and down.... screaming out answers in my class. My Form 1 kids are very active...they might be weak but they actively participate in my class. That is what I prefer though sometimes it's tiring and I have to keep nagging them.

No doubt, this A class is easier to teach, you only need to explain once and they grasp the idea. No need to explain again and again....but if the class is so quiet, it's really awkward. I'll be wondering if they can understand or think that whatever I am teaching is just too easy for them. A lot of questions will run through my mind. Maybe I should do something to provoke them, break their protective shell... or are all the smart students so quiet?

After this experience, I really appreciate my experience teaching weaker students who are more responsive and active. I do like their participation in the class.. laugh at their stupid remarks and quirks. They actually make my teaching experience more interesting.

Well...at least this is my preference.

Na Tamil Pesena Ni Bayenderave!

Let's be frank. Learning something foreign is scary. It's not just scary, it's very difficult. Imagine me trying to learn Tamil. It's not completely out of context and something foreign as our country has a lot of Tamil speakers. It isn't something completely out of the question as well because there are plenty of teachers who are excellent in teaching the subject as well..

... but if you told me to write an essay in Tamil in not less than 350 words...

I think I'll just stare blankly as I read the topic of the supposed essay:

The Bachan family empire.

 OK, maybe the topic is taking it a little too far off... but I don't see any difference in difficulty of that topic or...

My Favourite Hindi Movie.

Therefore, we have to put ourselves in this position and understand that to some kids, this is the situation. They've heard of English before; they know that there are materials somewhere that can be accessed if they tried; they know that there are people who they can speak to; they know that there are even TV shows that they could tune into if they wanted to get some form of exposure (hint: Thangathirai).

Proof that being funny pays off

So, I find it somewhat interesting when I try to motivate and show to my students that learning a new language shouldn't be too stressful because it can't be done just within the classroom. In the classroom, I show them how they can acquire and learn the language on their own by showing them how it can be done. It's not going to be solid enough if they just treat that language practice session as the only time where they learn and try to improve.

Motivating and showing them a good time helps

I end up showing them the way. I don't teach in that sense. I'm just telling them how to learn by themselves. Sort of like a guide. A tour guide doesn't really educate a tourist about his surroundings. He just shows them around and tells them about the place and the background... maybe a short history (if you get a nice dude) of the place. Then it's up to you if you feel that place is interesting and deserves further attention, if you'd want to write up about the place or further inquire for more information.

If I was forced to speak in Tamil or write in Tamil when doing all these things, I'm sure there will be significant improvement as time passes me by. I might not master native like capabilities but I'm pretty sure communicative situations won't be that big a problem. My students need to know that the first thing that has to happen is to feel motivated in learning the language.

Na English Pesena Ni Bayenderave!

The Captain's First Mate.

Nothing is valuable if it cannot be shared.

I love the fact that now I have someone I love and admire to help me in my blogging endeavours.

She's smart, beautiful, and the best person I can think of to share my blogging space with.

L'Amour de Ma Vie.

Get ready to be in touch with your feminine side.

Brisk, Bright and Brief

on Thursday, 15 July 2010
It takes a happy teacher to be a good teacher. Doesn't mean that the teacher has to be a funny teacher or someone who can make the class burst out laughing just by snapping his/her fingers; just cheerful would do.

Going into the class with a smile of on your face or going in with an upbeat feeling is important. It doesn't make you vulnerable or make you feel like you're compromising in terms of discipline (I'm sure a lot of you will detest to that idea but this is based on my short experience). In fact, control can be done when one is able to attract the audience to be interested in what you are doing or showing.

Sometimes, to be frank, I do lose that control. I lose the attention-grabbing factor that has to happen if you want the class to be on their toes. In fact, it is the best way to control the students that are rowdy and overly active. They want to do something interesting or discuss about something that is of appeal to them. If you rant on and on about something that they feel is a little bit irrelevant to them, I'm sure you'll get restless kids doing everything but your work.

It ain't easy to come up with something interesting all the time. As a teacher, it is quite difficult to come up with something quick and easy. I talked to a very experience teacher/headmaster before and he told me that his lessons are brisk, bright, and brief. I think this is a really important strategy when dealing with kids. No matter what age they are, you have to be able to create these environments.

I might not have my very own teaching philosophy yet. I'm sure I will come up with my very own one soon. Until then, maybe I too can be...


The Walking Wiki

on Tuesday, 13 July 2010
Probably because I am a graduate that has the word English in its name, the people around me tend to use me as their walking dictionary, thesaurus, and mini English-Wiki. I don't mind it at all because it's just natural that someone would turn to an English teacher to ask about something related to the English language.







These are the common things that people ask if they feel they are not feeling that confident about something. Most of the time, providing the correct alternative/answer is pretty simple. The slightly difficult questions that surface is always when people ask why.

Why do we use 'We are happy' instead of 'We is happy'?

In fact, being a TESL graduate, it's important to break it down in laymen terms so that someone who might not be that knowledgeable in grammatical jargon can understand. For the example given above, it's easily explained with singular/plural examples. Many times people will ask clarification about simple structures or pronunciation that can be easily explained.

What if someone asks Why is 'is' for singular and 'are' is for plural?

Why are there different pronunciations when the word structure is the same?

I.E: deaf, leaf,


Similar pronunciations when the word structure is different?

I.E: chief, beef, give,

Beats me.

I'll ask a German. 


on Monday, 5 July 2010
Is it a given that you're supposed to speak to each other in English if you're TESL students?

Probably you're not supposed to speak in English but I'm sure if a situation should prompt you to, speaking in English shouldn't be a problem right? At least there shouldn't be any impediment to use the language when needed.

I'm not going to bear the responsibility of proving that you must speak in English the majority of the time if you're speaking to another English graduate. I'm sure if you find someone who is of similar native tongue, I'm pretty sure it comes naturally to speak in that native tongue.

Would it be weird then since it's not a blatant rule to speak in English to each other that English graduates never speak in English to each other?

Of course, we're dwelling from one extreme end to another but I can't help thinking of a situation whereby the native speakers of a certain language become so natural in using that language to converse that they might actually never utilise English in their conversations. Even when discussing about tasks that are related to the language.

Having said that, is that alright? I'm sure it's not going to hurt anyone and I'm certain it wouldn't affect the quality of the work if the parties involved are already very proficient and efficient in what they're doing. Just the idea that English isn't the choice of communication seems to make me feel a little bit...

... un-English.

Based on my own experience, I had good and great friends who were in the TESL department that didn't really speak in English to me. These people still managed to complete their tasks and we were able to cooperate with each other without any problems when doing a task. It's not really going to hinder or compromise the end-product but the process to me is just as important. I'm sure a lot of English graduates will agree with me saying that the final essay/assignment/thesis doesn't shroud the importance of the time and effort taken to get it done. The grueling debates and discussions, burning of midnight kalimantang and all the researching is very enriching even if the end product did not arise.

So... based on that, it is important to review the importance of communication during the task completion process. The words, vocabulary, style, and language is of utmost importance to ensure that we also gain something from that experience of using English. In fact, what I try to enforce onto my students is the discussion and everyday conversations should be in English. I said there's no point presenting something out in English when the wholesome process of discussion was 100% in their own native tongue. I think there's a lot to lose if they do not try to use that time to speak in English as well...

... then I took a step back to review my past experience.

I don't think my course-mates and I did that completely too.

*slaps face


There is not one thing that can shake up my classroom more than the mentioning of the word - ghost. It's a real taboo in my school. I think it's not just a taboo in my school but the entire Kinabatangan population. There is a certain trauma that they go through when this topic is unearthed... oops, I mean... discussed.

Can anyone blame them? I think not. It has been a real emotional turmoil for the children to have seen and heard things that have been explained to them as supernatural. Not only has it been imposed to them as something out of the ordinary... or otherworldly, sometimes, the blame is being put on them. I'm not 100% in agreement with that although there are some diva cases that are obviously fake and need to be given a good sucker punch to the gut.

So, being the person who dares tread the barren moors, I told them to write a paragraph about their ghostly encounters!



Seeing the looks on their faces says it all. They were excited but freakishly scared at the same time. It was like telling them that:

OK, for the next class, I'll bring Emily Rose, we'll practise exorcism for 2 periods.

Remember to bring your very own wand tomorrow. We'll practise Patronum on the Dementors tomorrow.

I just love freaking them out.

Don't you dare come back with a clean shirt!

on Friday, 2 July 2010
I've always been very active in sports. Even when I did stop playing tennis for a couple of years, I still actively went out for other sports i.e. swimming and basketball. There is really no real explanation to why I love to go outdoors and sweat it out. It could probably be a guy thing, but I know many ladies would relate to the same idea.

Of course, this continues on even now when I'm in Kinabatangan. I'm not a stranger anymore at the courts and I'm also not new to other games that the teachers play. In fact, it has become a culture for me to go out in the evenings for sports. It's in the blood. It's in the mind. It's in my heart.

I don't think that this comes naturally. I wasn't born with that idea of going out for sports every evening. I feel that a big part of my addiction for sports comes from my family. Both parents of mine play tennis. My brother is a tennis player himself (starting to beat me too) and my sister is not just a certified lifesaver, she's a frequent visitor to her local gym every other evening. It is this surrounding personalities that hone the mentality of sports. We weren't really told about sports being good for health and it will steer you away from vices and all that; we were just took to places for fun. Sports was fun - simple as that.

Practicing on the wall in school really draws a crowd. In my school hall at 4pm, I'll be whacking the air out of the fuzzy yellow ball which does create a very satisfying echo that makes nearby students stare and watch. In fact, some boys go as far as sit behind my bag and watch me hit the ball on the wall as though they were watching an elephant ride a unicycle while juggling 3 bananas and a fruitcake. I don't mind it at all as they become very excited ball boys when one of my shots goes astray.

More importantly, after hitting for awhile, I chatted up with one of the boys watching when I was taking a break. Apparently, he isn't interested in sports and does not want to get involved in any sports even though it's so readily available in school. I find it very puzzling and incomprehensible. I for one always had the idea of going out, coming back with stains all over my shirt, getting the stares from mom (but no reprimanding required), and doing the same darn thing again the next day. In fact, my parents would find it strange if I didn't go out cycling for a day or if I came back too early that day.

 Well, maybe not that dirty...

Talking to the boy; the only words that came out were:

Go! Go play football now. Volleyball is good too... these sports don't cost anything. Just one ball.

I couldn't accept that a healthy looking boy was not at all interested in playing anything! Not even some other game like table tennis or achi duduk. This can't be. I will not allow anyone of my students within my reach to be not active in outdoor activities. A simple activity like cycling can be a great sport if taken up seriously. Jogging or running can boost a lot of stamina and it is fun to do if you take it up seriously and try to research the best ways to breathe and cut your running time in half. It takes a little bit more effort but in the end, the results are more than worthwhile.

Boys are meant to go out and run. Girls in turn, can join in the fun

I'm now going to create that environment that made me into a sporting freak.

2nd Semester, 3 goals Part 2

on Thursday, 1 July 2010
During these 2 weeks, I've been able to set my mini-plans in motion. I don't consider it as a major change. It's not even something original and probably some of you would consider the moves that I made something that I must do as an English teacher...

... y...e.....s...

... but no as well. I've come to realise that the profession can make you lazy, placid, and contented with your status quo.

It doesn't take a lot of effort to initiate the mini plans I've mentioned in my previous blog (2nd Semester, 3 Goals). In fact, I kind of feel that a new teacher like me has an unwritten contract with the students to bring in ideas and programmes as I see fit.

So far, the ones that have been going smooth-sailing-ly are:

Staffroom = English Speaking Only Zone.
So far, I've managed to mistreat, abuse, and enforce my power as the white man in the staffroom to my students. Reluctantly, they have complied and accepted the fact that I will not back down with the I don't get you though I know Malay statement. They play along with great resentment but hey~~~~ it seems to be working. Even the weakest kid who talked to me was practically miming out his words with his hands.

Monetary Punishment. Class = English Speaking Only Zone
Bringing THE JAR OF PUNISHMENT really freaks the students out. They know each time I hear them speak in Malay, 10 cents is going into that jar. I don't think it's so much of the money, the humiliation of contributing into the jar is more dreadful. The form 4 class was very obliging to my enforcement of this rule. It resulted in them being absolutely quiet but I guess they were still a little bit responsive when I prompted them. They didn't become unresponsive which is very relieving for me because I feared that they would just end up being mutes.

Form 1 Debating Team
After careful monitoring and selective tasks, I've managed to identify 3 kids with the appropriate foundation to start a debating team. It hasn't started as of yet but I've already told those 3 kids exclusively that they will be involved in a long term project; it's going to be arduous and it's going to make them become the creme ala creme. They seem eager, proud, and nervous about it because they don't know what to expect yet and I'm very sure that it would kick off with an excellent start the moment I blow the first whistle. This project in particular would be really time consuming but I'm going to make sure I follow up as much as I can.

By the way... THE JAR OF PUNISHMENT has 20 cents.