I think about you constantly, whether it's with my mind or my heart. ~ Albany Bach Reid

Sunday, August 21, 2011

"To teach is to learn twice over" - Joseph Joubert

Dear Boy,

The brief meet-up a few days ago still put a smile on my face.

Teaching sometimes can be frustrating, stressful and at times may seem unrewarding. It's even worse now when some Universities are looked down upon, by the society; saying that we haven't done much;especially when it comes to improving the graduates' English language. However, occasionally I have to admit that we educators experience some moments that make it so worthwhile that we forget all about the negatives.

One of those moments is the joy of bumping into an ex student of mine; like you. When I was in your previous school, I was quite happy being surrounded by smart and compliant students. Teaching there was pleasurable as you guys’ level of English proficiency was satisfactory. What I treasure the most, whenever we did games/discussions; the Learning Objectives were highly achieved! Something I can hardly say the same about some groups of students that I teach now. *sighs

You remember me; though I need to stress here that I was in your school for only 5 short months. Now I understand the meaning of joy for teachers whenever a student comes up to you and claims cheerily that he/she was your student. Talking to children who are now adults and them saying to you; "I remember you because..." and then coming up with an emotive reason. Sweet ey?

You are no longer the innocent-looking boy who once admitted in class that you love baking. You’re home for a couple of month’s break, only to go back to the UK after Aidilfitri.

Congratulations from a proud teacher who is proud to have been part of the team; even just for five months. Keep striving for the best. You’ll make an excellent engineer, InsyaAllah.



In teaching, you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years. ~Jacques Barzun

Poor English: Bangau oh bangau

Of late, for the umpteenth time, the nation was on fire once again due to Malaysians with a poor command of English. Major highlight: these kids are entering universities. There they find that the academic books are in English but the medium of teaching is in Bahasa Malaysia.

Some parties claimed that Universities have to give importance to English if they want to produce employable graduates. Very quality graduates. Universities, you say?! Hmm..

Here's the thing.

I was speechless at first too, when I first came to my current workplace teaching final year students English for Occupational Purposes; finding out that more than half of each class, they couldn’t communicate properly in English. How? It was crystal clear when we did Mock Interview session; a session where the students get to be either the interviewer or interviewee, taking turns of course. The questions were given beforehand, all they need to do was answer the questions. Yet, they couldn’t say what they want to say. They were at lost in answering the simplest of questions. As simple as that.

There and then it came to me; after 9 years in schools learning English, what have they learned??

It is no surprise also that just like the cartoon strip above, asking the students to sing some English songs, the words coming out of their mouth so smoothly you tend to believe that their level of English is, if not poor, not bad at all.

I would really appreciate it if my students try their best to communicate in English wherever they are. But of course the fear of being called a snob or simply 'poyo' or, or 'mengada nak cakap omputeh' always holds them back.

I can't really say that the level of English among teachers in schools are poor and therefore it is one of the factors that contributes to downfall of English language quality. However I can't deny that I have some experience with teachers in schools (even English teachers) who can't really speak properly in English.

"Tepuk dada, tanya selera".

*Cartoon strips are borrowed from Portal Pendidikan Utusan