Proficiency Automatically Equates to Pedagogical Competency? Think Again

on Wednesday, 18 September 2013
I posted this in my facebook, but I thought to share it in this blog as well... I added a couple of things here and there This is the link that leads to the article that I am referring to.

Another long rant from me.... *disclaimer: Once again, I'm completely appalled by the way issues so close to me are being addressed and made public and could be so easily misconstrued by others.. even more, this PARTICULAR announcement because when you say 70%, it is statistically very high and will cause unwarranted boos and dissing from those who are uninformed. 


I know this is probably 'statistically speaking'. However, how does it improve the situation by stating this without mentioning the fact that we are lacking English-option teachers teaching as well? Out of the many in Sabah (not sure of the whole country), I would easily say a good 50-60% (statistically speaking as well... at least I can confirm it is 50% in my district) are not English-option teachers. This changes the perspective of this news completely. MANY are being forced to teach English BECAUSE of the lack of English option teachers per se. Of course, they are teaching English... but they're obviously not as well equipped as an English/TESL graduate. Before I go on, big kiddos to those non-English option teachers who are STILL willing to take up the challenge and help us poor few English teachers out even though this is obviously out of your comfort zone. Respect to that~. Let me just say, that for anyone who knows me, if you'd have asked me to teach maths/BM/Geo/whatever, you'd have a good laugh watching me take a CPT-like test of that subject IF there ever is one. Hahahahhaa.... especially maths.


It's of course unfair to test the CPT to an English teacher who's actual major is History and say "Ohhh.... itulah, cikgu BI ni makin teruk result BI-nya". It's like telling me to teach Maths and then tell me to take a Maths test and say "Bangangnya cikgu matematik sekarang"... it's such a MISLEADING statement by grouping ALL the English teachers and saying 70% of them are unfit to teach. It's dismissive.

It's dismissive to say that 70% are unfit to teach English because they did not manage to get very high scores on the CPT. The CPT tests proficiency... not pedagogy. How can you say that the pedagogy of an English teacher is 'unfit' just by seeing the statistics of the CPT results? Are you saying that ALL the teachers who scored A1-B2 are unfit pedagogically? Really? Automatically? This is the most sweeping statement I've heard thus far in regards to the CPT results and the condition of the English classes and teachers to date. 

Of course, it doesn't take a dumb ass to figure out that if you put a bunch of football players in a tennis court and tested their skills in badminton, are you going to say "Wah..... teruknya skill ping pong diorang ni..."

I know some of you are going to say... "English very easy only la.... You are good in speaking English right??? Can teach English already la.... Sooooo fluent in English.. You'll be a good English teacher for sure," *read this with a Chinese accent

Erm............... not necessarily. Of course someone who's bad in English and CANNOT SPEAK EVEN A WORD OF ENGLISH won't be teaching English anytime soon. However, it's a typical scenario in our schools that a desperate administration will pick and choose teachers based on 'listening to their English' and checking their SPM English results to fill-in-the-blanks of English classes with no teachers. Come on, I'm not even going to spend time talking too much about 'speaking-good-English-does-not-automatically-qualify-you-to-be-an-expert-English-teacher'. In contrary, getting a C2 or C1 in the CPT doesn't AUTOMATICALLY make you a great English teacher.

To top that off, I'm not saying "ALL non-option English teachers are bad or potentially of a lesser teacher than an English option." Some or even many of them are damnnnnnnnn good.... THE POINT I'm making here is, we should not overgeneralize and say anything like that because it's MISLEADING.


Then they said they will send these teachers overseas. OVERSEAS?!?!

Such a TYPICAL~~~ Malaysian way of solving problems... Why? Because some caucasian lagi mahir la dari kitorang? I want to see how some foreigner will know how to teach Are You Still Playing Your Flute by Zurinah Hassan. I want to see which American/Brit read The Curse by our very own young writer - Lee Su Ann. We'll end up having to brief them about it instead.... we have specific problems and locals who are more than capable of helping each other out. Instead of wiring cash to foreign banks, might as well Maybank2U to me and my fellow English teachers who can do team teaching even better. I'm doing it right now.... I'm trying to improve on the teaching of some teachers... and it's not like they're horrible teachers who are sitting around and doing nothing... but it's as though if I were to teach Maths, I'll surely not know the SUPERB or EFFECTIVE way of teaching, so I'll revert to things like 'how my teacher used to teach before', 'I use my textbook as a guideline', or 'I just find stuff in the internet and try things'.... and I'll probably do all these things like a headless chicken. These non-option teachers are receptive to change, trying out my ideas and suggestions, and are improving just with a few sessions of discussions. Don't announce these kind of unsupportive and demotivating statistics without backing it up with the right description of status quo and expect improvement.

How am I going to encourage these non-option English teachers to continue helping us out if they are discouraged by this news?

How are we teachers going to feel when people go around saying "Why are our English teachers now so bad ah?"

You wanna help? Come here and give us suggestions/materials/lesson ideas/motivation instead. Don't just spew out statistics.

p/s: On a completely different note, from the same article... No one is trying to eradicate anyone's mother tongue. No politician in the next 10-500 years will be willing to stick their neck out and say learning Mandarin and Tamil should be reduced/discouraged/banned from anything or anywhere. Get real.

5 Joule's T Shirt

on Wednesday, 10 April 2013
When 5 Joule students came to me with their design for their class T Shirt, I just had to override it with my own design.... to think that art students would come up with such awful designs...

I'm not particularly fond of the words Art Stream but they seemed adamant to have that on. Oh well

School Magazine!!!!

This year, our school finally released their first school magazine... being the cover designer alongside Nursyuhaida, we both managed to come up with these simple designs.... thanks to all who were involved in giving ideas and also helping in the designing process

 ^This is the one that the Principal picked^

A Graphic Teacher

Well, I've come to realize that I've become the teacher that creates banners and flyers for the school. Although I'm never designated the job since 2009, I've always been the one designing the backdrops for school events.... Just thought I'd share some of the things I've done...

Majlis Anugerah Pelajar Cemerlang
Majlis Anugerah Pelajar Cemerlang
Hari Koperasi
Program Merdeka Raya
Bulan Pusat Sumber
Hari Sukan Banner
Hari Sukan Banting
Don't ask me why I had to do this one...
Rejected design of Karnival Merdeka Raya

Our default PIBG Meeting Banner
Every teachers dream of Zoning (*rolls eyes)
I have no idea how I came up with such an ugly one, but this was one of my first backdrop designs

Glee-d up?

Well, last month was the language month. I had a choir competition and here are some of the pictures:

The Sabah vs Peninsula Debate

*Disclaimer* Just a regular rant from a Peninsula-dude-went-to-Sabah English teacher. Don't read if you feel it's irrelevant to you.

Let me get things straight now, I feel that all teachers are struggling(or doing just fine) economy wise. I mean, it's truly ironical and a sad sight when a teacher who is supposed to teach about life and how to live life to the fullest, goes home and has to rethink/recalculate/and probably think about doing an extra job to make sure that his kids can go to a better school and buy decent utilities for his home.

I've been reading a lot of news (more of like internet rants) about how some of the teachers in the peninsula are not happy with the unfair amount of allowance the Sabah teachers who are from Peninsula are getting; which by the way, is not much... it's a difference of about RM500 (which burns off with one regular Air Asia ticket back home). The exact amount I get is RM830 which replaces the RM300 that I will get in the peninsula. I'm no maths expert, but that's RM530 extra (read again about the Air Asia analogy). The general misconception is we get RM800-RM1000 extra. That's not the case. We get that amount in replacement of the RM300 housing allowance that other teachers in peninsula are getting. Some even think that we're getting some special 'overseas allowance' which I can tell you.... definitely fooled me. Some like to talk about this whole RM500/RM1000/RM1500 rural allowances that apparently Sabahan teachers are getting. Erm.... first of all, yeah, we are getting that allowance... and so does every single teacher in Malaysia who teaches in a rural area that qualifies for the allowance. If you're in Besaut 20 in Perak, I'm sure you qualify for that RM1500 rural allowance too.

If you feel that we're getting it so good here and it's so unfair that we get this extra RM500, please.... PLEASE.... by all means come here and help us. I know how bad it is to have to live in KL with a teacher's paycheck. Come here! There's a lovely district called Kinabatangan in Sabah that is in desperate need of English teachers. Not just English teachers mind you.... COME ONE, COME ALL!!! My school is also desperate for Pendidikan Islam/Bahasa Melayu/a few other subjects teachers. So, I'm not just looking out for myself here (ahem ahem).

Do come and help us build up a healthy quorum of staff members so that my school *ahem... I mean.... Sabah will be filled with more teachers (my school has an inadequacy of about 30+ teachers). We welcome you with open arms! (I'm not even being sarcastic here! Really!)

Well, enough of Sabah, lets just focus on my school since that's what I can really comment on.... I don't know about living standards in EVERY SINGLE PLACE, but I can tell you that even that is subjective from person to person. Some might feel that having a house and a car is all they need to survive and they need nothing else. Some might feel that it is a necessity to have blazing fast internet connection in order to stay connected and develop teaching materials. Some might even feel that all they need is a bicycle, a marker pen, some writing materials and they can create wonders in the classroom. Well, I say.... that could ALL be true.

A lot of people argue about the cost of living in the Peninsula (certain areas of course... I'm assuming big cities) are draining and things are getting out of hand just surviving with the pathetic salary. Well, I personally don't think the salary scheme is gonna change much in the next few years, so I guess we will have to think of an alternative. COME TO SABAH! COME and ENJOY all these extra allowances that you say we are enjoying! It's here for the picking!!! Oh, how we would love your presence in Sabah! In fact, the more the merrier I always say.

As an added incentive, living in this Salted Hill (my place is Bukit Garam, FYI) is indeed low maintenance as there is nothing (much) to spend on.... well, of course you can spend on anything in large amounts... like you could buy 50 kilos of fish every day (which averages RM2-RM10 per kilo) and say that's a lot of money spent but... so far, I personally feel the options are limited to Fung Ming and some grocery shops beside it. Well, you get the general idea...

If you can live with sub-standard water hygiene (unless you buy a RM2000+ Amway water filter; which is a brilliant choice of water filters *wink), don't mind regular electricity cuts (or in some cases, not enough electricity; bear with me... I know you don't know what 'not enough' means), dust choked atmospheres, a 200-300 square foot house which has the kitchen/living room/store/bathroom/toilet/staircase all in one spot, then this place is definitely the spot for you!

So.... What are you waiting for?? This month is the month of EG-Tukar! Apply now to Kinabatangan and you'll be instantly accepted! I guarantee you! In fact, if you are one of those people reading this and saying

"Damn... this guy has got it good.. I wish I was there with this guy enjoying our lives together in Kinabatangan and Sabah. Extra allowance!?!? Wow!!! I'm in!!!!"

Here's the website you should go to. Sistem Pertukaran Guru Secara Online

Don't be shy. Just do it. Come on. Just for fun. Just try it out. Come on... come on. What the heck right? Why not just come here for a few years and see how it is like? How bad can it be right? Just try.