English Workshop for SPM

on Thursday, 29 September 2011
Today, the students from SMK Bukit Garam II were given a special treat with the arrival of one of Sandakan's English gems by the name of Madam Santhi - who was kind enough to spare some of her precious time to give our SPM students a hint or two about their upcoming exam.

I thought her session was beneficial and students who were focused on her lecture would have definitely benefited a great deal just by noting down the things that she has said. She focused on Paper 1 (techniques of identifying and writing out certain formats that were targeted to come out) and literature. Unfortunately, we needed more time as how English teachers will always tell you how they do not have enough time once they get things rolling but I'm just glad with this short session with the students.

Thanks a lot.

Enjoy the pictures!

Zurinah Hassan's Guilty Song

on Tuesday, 27 September 2011
So, the SPM examination is creeping near and we're all busy trying to get the students to remember back all the literature components. Trust me, they know the stories, poems, and novels but getting them to actually embrace the content is a whole different story. Almost every kid I know taking their SPM would be lining up to get those Memory Trainer Guide to Literature or Top Ten Literature Questions or You Got Literature Problems? We Have It Translated into Malay!

Being a traditionalist, I ain't gonna fall for all those. So I had to have a different approach in how to get these fellas to remember the gist of Zurinah Hassan's poem.

What I told them to do was to find a song. Since Zurinah felt guilty and was longing for the artist's song, it is only natural that I told them to find a song that they thought gave them the same sense of guilt and longing for something. It could be a Malay song or even a Hindi one (which they are required to translate into English) and write down the lines of the lyrics that they thought had the same meaning as guilt or the sense of longing for something.

Even the naughty notorious ones actually rose to the occasion. I think songs do speak to these Sabahan kids. They seem to love the idea that songs are part of their classroom tasks. Is it really that interesting? Maybe they just like to express themselves in the form of music... well, they should know that music and poetry aren't that far off. Melodious, rhythmic and lyrical with a hidden message in between - these characteristics are the embodiment of both song and poetry.

Literature-singing... anyone?

The Life Teacher

on Monday, 26 September 2011
First of all, if you were wondering how come I went AWOL or somehow went on a sabbatical or something, rest assured that it wasn't THAT cool....

Being a teacher IS taxing. Work will bog you down and you can't blog NOT because you don't have any free time, but because free time becomes so valuable, you tend to want to spend time doing other things rather than blogging.

Finally a breather this week from many other things that I could not possibly blog here because they are completely unrelated to English. That's right. I'm an English teacher and for the past 1-2 months, most of my work is completely unrelated to English. Har Har Har.

I hate to start of the blog after such a long time by saying something negative but I think that the students have started to deteriorate - not in their English per se but they have started to degenerate altogether. I can understand if the notorious or rowdier ones are giving me an attitude but now even the best classes are starting to show lack of enthusiasm. I can only count a small handful who are still exuberant and full of initiative to improve themselves.

After teaching for awhile, especially these 2 months of non-English related work, I've come to realise that I am not primarily an English teacher. I think teachers are never primarily their major subject teachers anymore. It's important to review back what the word teacher means. It is not about teaching subject matter and everything else revolves around that... instead, it's more of like being a teacher has many revolving things around you, and your subject matter is part of it only.

This is the part that probably I'm not exactly good at. I'm not that good in doing many other things in life. I might be good at certain things but to me, it doesn't feel like I'm qualified to teach 'life' to kids. It's something that I feel so daunting and so responsible that I find it almost impossible to teach without having a small smirk in my mind saying "Yeah right Adrian, as if..."

Could this sense of self-righteous-irony be my downfall? Is it really hard to teach life to kids? How does one start? How does one correct life? Is discipline life? Is manners or studying life? Maybe I should break it down.

Life is about lessons. Lessons also means something or a situation that prompts us to try and in trying, we improve no matter what the end result is. These lessons do not teach us, they train us to identify options and weigh the consequences - not to necessarily make the right decisions but to understand that we learn no matter which decision we take at the end of the day.

Life is about rules. Written rules are only a tangible object that reflects our innermost common sense. It is not because it's a rule not to kill that we choose not to kill. It's because inside of us we know that it is wrong to kill and that's why we choose not to kill. These rules do not have to be written and we follow them inside our minds and our hearts which what makes us human. People who are mindless in obeying rules just because they are written are nothing more than advanced computers.

Now how am I going to get my students to embody those?

Best Friends or Just Friends?

on Thursday, 28 July 2011
For friendship day, the teachers and English Language Society decided to conduct an activity that had the students answer questions about their best friends and check if they really knew each other well.

It was so serious and not like what I thought it should have been like but we had our fun. At least the teachers had some fun anyway.

The students were very excited about the activity anyway. So, the turnout was pretty decent. Congratulations to all who participated and made it happen.

Here are the pictures:


Was trying to get my weakest form 4 class to imagine how the four seasons mentioned in the poem were like, so i described to them how each season looked like and they had to draw them in four sections in their exercise book.

1. Spring - flowers are blooming, it's colourful, birds, butterfiles and bees are all out happily.
2. Summer - it's hot and fruit season starts now!
3. Autumn - trees are wilting, leaves falling, all the green leaves become red, orange, brown
5. Winter - snow! Frozen! Everything is white!

So I drew this along with them:

THE APPROACH - Paragraph Writing for Mature Weak Students

on Thursday, 21 July 2011
Teaching paragraphs to 0 proficiency students is indeed challenging. I'm given the task to try to get a bunch of form 5 students to try to write proper paragraphs about simple topics and it is indeed very challenging.



Refer to Russell Peters Red White and Brown if you don't get the joke in the above statement. HAHAHAHA can't stop laughing..


So how does teaching paragraph writing go for classes that have nearly NO proficiency in English? It has to be done step by step.

1. You have to provide example paragraphs. I know it isn't WHAT I WANT EXACTLY, but getting them to copy an example paragraph does help a little bit. At least, they can envision how the paragraph looks like.

2. Omit a few sentences for them to place their own. Use the simplest of sentences. I always like to use sentences like:
I like to...
I don't like...
It is...
... because these sentences somehow ring some bells even with 0 proficiency students. Mind you that these are still 17 year olds who still in one way or another stumble upon sentences like these.

3. Give them background information about the topic you are writing. This is essential for mature students. Let's say the topic you're writing about is about haze, it is good to explain something extra for the students to take back. Background information empowers them and they feel that they know about the issue or topic that they are writing about which makes them more comfortable trying to make their own sentences.

4. Split the lesson and try not to do too many things in one lesson. Yes, this will slow you down and you can't do much with them but bear in mind that these are 0 proficiency students. Better do 20% successfully rather than do 80% with only 1% of success (I know some of my lecturers would ask Just how would you measure that percentage? I CAN'T OK?? It's just gut instinct telling me if the class was successful. Teachers are allowed that sort of privilege). Sometimes, I give them breaks in between and talk about something light and out of topic, just so that the sleepy ones don't get too exhausted trying to do something heavy like paragraph writing.

Aih.... let's hope this works.

Breathing Desolate What???!!?

on Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Obviously... This HAS to be one of the most racist statements ever written by any student...

As they were doing corrections for the mid term exam, they had to write out sentences from the form 4 poems... And one of the poems had a line (In The Midst of Hardship by Latiff Mohidin):

breathing desolate sighs...

so... The student wrote:

breathing desolate singhs

does he not know what is the meaning of singhs?

That ignorance itself is racist.


on Tuesday, 21 June 2011
Forgive the long sabatical for being the Panel Head does takes its toll from a blogger... It shouldn't be an excuse because I realised that some readers have actually mailed/PM-ed me in facebook to ask me if I was gonna still update this blog. I will continue this blog but looks like unless someone takes over my Panel Head position, posting here in Tasty English© won't be as regular....

Teachers' day??? Ain't that like a month ago?? You're absolutely right. In fact, this post seems timely because in our school, we had the day (note that i'm not using the word celebration/event because that would be just downright lying) on the same day we had report card day. SAME FREAKING DAY!! TEACHERS' DAY WAS LIKE DONE IN 2 HOURS. Yup.

Somehow, the song Don't Cry for Me Argentina (the Madonna version; with her hands up and she staring from the balcony) seems to be ringing in my head all the time as i'm writing this in my phone.

Here's the deal...

When i look at all my other non-teacher friends all earning more than me; getting 2-3months of year end bonus, spending lavishly on themselves, it does make me wonder why i decided to choose the teaching profession. Truly, being in the government sector of the education department isn't supposed to promise you spoils of war but to me... I knew that would happen. To me, it was going to be worth it...

... What will make all this worthwhile?

Job Satisfaction
As cliche as this may sound, the real truth is, there are some parts of the job that just cannot be put into numbers and calculated empirically. The part where I feel MOST fulfilled is the parts that you cannot consistently replicate like a monthly income or a year end bonus. It's the nice spontaneous things that happen throughout the job i.e. A sudden gift from a student, building relationships and watching kids grow, seeing students make significant improvements where you never thought possible... These are the things that make it really special.

EXTRA STUFF you do that other sectors don't
Things like friendship day, teachers' day, mothers' day, celebrating sporting events, having fashion shows, dance training, singing competitions, the list practically goes on and on with stuff that I really like to do. These are the unwritten, unscripted events that constantly SHOULD unfold in schooling years that a teacher directly gets a piece of. To me, these things are what makes the job so unpredictable and colourful; you never know what's coming and being surprised makes the job so exciting and eventful.

So, what happens when all these things that I love and distinct it AS the reasons i chose the profession disappear?

Many a times, I realised that I've been longing and wanting for these occurences to happen. Nothing brings me down more than the fact that I am not able to enjoy to the fullest these extra features of the profession since that is the only thing that seems better compared to other professions. If all I wanted was the month-ending salary or income, I WOULDN'T be a teacher. If all I cared about was the year-end bonuses, I'd do a litigation or business professional career instead (i know if i put my head into it, i can)... But no!

I wanted something else.

Teachers' day this year has shown how demoralizing it can be for a teacher like me. Excited, full of energy but with absolutely near-to-nothing celebration in my school just completely dampens my spirit. I was lucky enough that the English teachers, ELS and some very thoughtful students (thanks for all your wishes, gifts and roses) were kind enough to cheer my teachers' day up a bit. I wanted a piece of that laugh-till-your-anus-hurts day where I didn't think about anything else but just having fun with everyone in school... Did it happen? No.

To think that when i was asked by a friend "was there ever a point where you regretted teaching/being a teacher?" And I said no. I still think I was being very honest and I don't think that will change anytime soon...

... But things around me are SEEMINGLY trying to change my mind


on Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Yo! Am currently in Tawau for Phase 3 & 4 of MBI course. It's a continuation of the course that I attended few weeks ago. This time, the letter came in early, so at least I had some time to arrange my transport etc.

I drove all the way to Tawau. My longest drive ever! Think that Sandakan-Kinabatangan roads are horrible? Try driving in Lahad Datu's road. Gravel roads for quite a stretch because they are currently upgrading the roadworks there. Poor car.. I left Sandakan with a Granite Grey car, reached Tawau in a Muddy Grey car.

Having a car is super flexible! When I am at a new place, something that I will always do is to ask 'What are the food that are to die for here?!' and I did just that. The Tawau people recommended 'Pisang goreng cheese', 'pisang goreng penyet' and mango sago in this place called Indo Cafe. We were all excited to try out the food stated above.

Indo cafe is actually situated in town. With the help of a map drawn by Lili (thanks dear!), we managed to find it.

We ordered 2 sets of pisang goreng cheese and pisang goreng penyet, 2 avocado sago for Eva and Peter (Teachers from Lahad Datu) and one mango sago for myself. How was it? Let the pictures do the talking.

The ultimate banana fritters! Pisang goreng cheese - fried banana with cheddar cheese and brown sugar! To die for!

Pisang goreng penyet - not nice.. not our taste..

Avocado sago - very milky and 'eggy' according to Eva

Mango sago - yummy! Rich in mango taste.. smooth

We were banana-fied that night! We ate so many bananas till we're like super full! The entire meal cost us RM29. Then we went to Vincci! Tawau has a Vincci store! Me love!! Bought a pair of studded wedges.. was in love with it!

Well, trip for food in Tawau so far so good! I mean the food trip.. :P

More updates to come!

Choral Speaking of 5 Ibnu Sina

on Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Last week was a hectic week in school. On Saturday, the Chief Minister of Sabah will be coming to officiate our 'Hari Anugerah Iltizam SMK Elopura 2'. The entire event was brought forward by one week! We had less than a week to settle everything..to make sure that all the programmes run smoothly on that day. I was actually in charge of organizing the price receivers.. thus, not much preparation to do.

The banner and colourful balloons..

Cikgu Nik, the PK HEM told me to help out with the choral speaking team. The school doesn't have a choral speaking team. This team that I am talking about is actually students of 5 Ibnu Sina. They performed choral speaking for English Day which is held every wednesday of the week. I was suprised by the quality of their performance although they had only practice for about a week. Due to still splendid performance, Cikgu Nik suggested to make them perform in front of the Chief Minister.

Camwhoring while waiting for the arrival of CM :P

The nail biting thing is that they have to learn all the moves and gestures within 2 days! 2 days! I was worried myself. Puan Shanti, their English teacher and myself were watching over them like a hawk. They practiced the entire day, trying to perfect the moves etc. Tired faces shown all over their face but the teachers had to keep encouraging them, telling them what a golden opportunity this is and how IMPORTANT is the

CM giving his speech

On THE day... they were all nervous and starting to realize how important their performance will be. Don't talk about them, I myself could feel my heart thumping loudly. I was nervous too despite putting a brave face to the students. I crossed my fingers behind my back as they walked up the stage.

'Oh please God, let them remember all the moves and be confident', my heart whispered.

The 6 minutes performance was a nerve wrecking process. As they finished, I heard loud applause from the audience. They were awesome! I was very proud of them. They smiled, remembered their lines and moves and very confident.

5 Ibnu Sina rocking the stage

The best part has yet to come... before the CM left the school.. he gave us a BIG gift.. he gave us

RM 2 500 cash for the choral speaking team! wooootttt!!

CM loved their performance! I am so PROUD of all of them... very proud! There's just a very satisfied feeling.. I personally feel that this is a big recognition for the students.

5 Ibnu Sina... I AM PROUD OF YOU! You rocked the stage!! WOoooooooooooooooooooo.....

Finally the event is over! Posing with students' gifts.. hehe

p/s: The CM also awarded another RM 2 500 to the Kadet Koreksional for their awesome marching and formation! They really deserve it!

Huff and Puff...

on Saturday, 2 April 2011
I've been teaching English for a year plus now. Follow up 2 classes from Form 1. My special attention to my kids in Form 2 Al Biruni now.

It's really difficult to get these kids to speak English in the classroom. They are not confident, worried that they'll be embarrassed because they're weak. Some are okay.. but most of them hardly speak English except when they need to go to the toilet. (I won't let them go to the toilet unless they ask in English...*evil grin).

After teaching them for a year...nurturing trust and love towards these kids... I see a big leap this year compared to last year. At the first few lessons, a few very weak students still showed reluctance to speak or participate in any English activities especially speaking. Immediately, I expressed my disappointment towards them. I said,

"Teacher very sad. Sangat sedih.. disappointed..kecewa..because you don't want to speak English. I said many times I wont scold you.. saya tak akan marah. You don't read, I marah'

The entire class turned quiet.. a few outspoken ones urged their classmates to speak because they know that I was upset. I turned to other students and ignored them.. deep in my heart, I was indeed very disappointed that they still refuse to speak English.

But to my surprise, in the next class that I entered, I again tried to make the weak students to speak out, they actually DID!! I can't describe my happiness...(i know it's silly..hehehe).. I encouraged them to read text..parroting me slowly.. they read..although with some wrong pronunciation here and there. Quickly, I praised them... telling them that that is what I want to see - to see them read and try to speak in English.

I am trying new ways to make them more familiar with English. I used the idea given by my boyfriend, Adrian about putting up sentences on the board and make them learn the sentences. They actually like it. I am going to change the sentences next week and they can't wait to learn new sentences.

My next project will be a reading corner - something that I wanted to do since last year but failed to do so. I have already collected enough materials to start one. Really hope the corner will make them attracted to English.

Gambate 2 Al Biruni! You've been progressing well and you have no idea how proud am I!!


on Friday, 1 April 2011
Hi Hi... Announcing my arrival for year 2011! Haha... been ages since I pen down..sorry..type down anything for the year. Here I am!

Currently in a class for a course, in IPG Tawau English Proficiency for Teachers - especially for non-option English teachers.

Personally, I gained a bit here and there from this course, especially when the lecturer swayed away from the topic, talking about how to teach this and that, which I think it's more useful for us, the newbies to ESL world.

I really hope they will conduct another course for methodology/ pedagogy in English. I think that'll really help us all.

I really cant wait to go back! Tonnes of work waiting for me back in Sandakan!

p/s: Here are some pictures to share!

My group members for the course - nice people!


Our imaginary superhero for ultimate reader - Bibliotecha! Sexy right? hohoho..

Dinner at this place called Taste Two.. about 40mins away from IPG Tawau

With Eva - the Amber Chia look-alike.. ;P


on Wednesday, 2 March 2011
The best way to start March is with non other than the Top Ten List

Just marking essays by form 5 students.... obviously not the best of students (proficiency-wise)


10. For example,around drain will grow robe buny.

9. This is the signature of the formal letter: Yours trulk,

8. The forest fires will cause oil spills which kill the fish and prawns.

7. I will go to the hospital of the injured.

6. The toilet boys are very dirty.

5. The walls of the toilets are vandalising irresponsible people.

4. We will call the doctor from the animal clinic to given we all a little pit talk.

3. Secondly, pollution causes the thinking of the ozone ozone.

2. Cars, lorries, and buses have a lot of exhaust because they use diesel in 2005.


Fish will be destroyed and will be endangered causes from oil spirit.

*cue big band jazzy ending with a spray of oil into the aiR!

Go For Gold!!! Twister!!!

on Thursday, 24 February 2011
This year's sports is all about RED HOUSE. TWISTER managed to bag 25 gold medals to lead the pack by a total of 7 gold medals.

Big up for the athletes, cheerleaders, marching contingent and OF COURSE~~~ those lovely teachers who were MORE ENTHUSIASTIC than I was throughout the entire duration of sports' month. You guys are the driving force/backbone/pulse of TWISTER and will always have my FULLEST gratitude!


I can't really comment on every picture.... I think the journey is summed up nicely with the pictures themselves. ENJOY!!!

Credits to Idzwan for taking some of the most memorable pictures... he's from Twister *thumbs up