Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Teacher Talk 12: Need Your Advice!

An interesting email about teaching and learning...(published with sender's permission). Do respond ELT practitioners out there!

To: rahmahs@yahoo.com
Sent: Tue, January 11, 2011 8:34:21 PM                         
Subject: Salam there thinking teacher~need your advice!

Salam to you cikgu,I happened to search for latest RPT and somehow I 'bump' to your blog. Firstly, I would like to thank you for having this great blog of yours. It's kind of an eye-opening to me.Thank you !Currently I am teaching f3 and f4 students, and it is my 4th year of teaching EL, my 2nd year of teaching f3 and 1st year tching f4 students (most of them are previously my f3 students). I am teaching in a place which can be consider as rural area, well not so rural I think, as there are a few cyber cafe around.I love to teach and I would really2 want to see all of my students succeeded in their exams and life. The greatest challenge here, in my school is to make my students love /like or wanting to learn EL. I am having these type of students;NOT ALL but SOME ( regardless their races ):
  1. has no interest in studying EL -pretend to sleep/ making excuses
  2. not confident with their EL, so they decide to let it be.
  3. hardly know how to pronounce when reading EL material (e.g island becomes 'ISland', and hour becomes 'hawer')-problems with phonetics /sounds i think
  4. hardly know to read-illiterate
  5. having problems when it comes to writing composition- grammatical error/ lack of vocabulary
  6. has the tendency to memorise answers rather than do independent thinking

 when I discovered their weaknesses while in f3, I was terribly scared. I always have high expectation to my students and I used to produce EL materials using many EL books, trying to mix and match according to their abilities. I've experiment with my previous f3 students by providing lots of exercises to improve their English, and most of the exercises were based on the PMR examination format, P1 and P2. I also provide suggestion answers for the Literature part which could be apply in any literary elements with a little modification. And most of my weak students were able to MEMORISE it. And my aim was to help them to PASS the examination. I know, my action seem desperate and selfish (only wanting them to PASS and perhaps they didn't learn much-you might consider this is not a learning process). I remembered the saying, "By the end of the day only the teacher has finished the syllabus and the students didn't learn much", and I don't want to be caught in that situation.

My hope is to seek advice from you regarding how am I going to teach my unmotivated students. I try as far as I could not to call my students as 'problematic students'. Sounds so bad..and makes them feel bad too. Please help me to become one inspiring teacher. TQBTW, here are some of the approaches which I've been using at the moment:

  1. reading aloud in classroom-immediate correction
  2. class discussion-encourage students to talk more rather than teacher
  3. daily exercises-grammar/writing
  4. literature notes and tasks for further understanding
  5. homework for enrichment -usually taken from English modules
  6. now and then tips in summary writing and composition, PMR and SPM format

1. what kind of approach I should use for my students who are unable to read? they are already f4 btw. I
    always ask them to read aloud in class as they definitely not going to read at home. I simply know them.
2. how can I help my weak students to like learning English? They are soo..afraid with this subject and they
    simply neglect it.
3. How can i improve my students vocabulary? they don't understand what they read. 

 Thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate it.
p/s: keep on blogging and sharing!

~the thinking teacher~


  1. assalamualaikum..

    i am really glad to hear that there are still teachers at rural area who has highly motivated to help their students. congratz..

    me,as a student. i think that help much on my english is by watching english movie with english subtitle. myb one of ur english period can be spare by watching movie. it might help.
    that all from me..

  2. thanks saifuddin,
    hope it helps the teacher.

  3. I'm just started teaching this year and having the same problems. I haven't figure out how but am trying and thinking how. It's challenging indeed. For that teacher just keep on going. You'll be enlightened someday!

  4. hi...i glad to know teachers who have the passion in teaching the students regardless of the geographical factors. just to introduce myself briefly, i am lynda from sarawak. for the time being i am teaching in a small town which can be considered as quite rural. not to underestimate the students when i am saying that i have some students who are allergy to english language. Most of the time, they prefer to speak in their mother tongue language be it during english lesson too. as a newbie, it was a challenge for me when i first started teaching in 2007. i was too idealistic that time by forcing them to love english language. at the end of the day, i was the one who frustrated at all. Experience is a good teacher. I believe in this statement. most of my students in that school know me as a cheerful and loves to laugh. one day, i use phua chu kang's language in the class...they love it. they are parroting me! they imitate me! so during english language my students speak PCK language. i know that it is not a standard language for their exams but i feel this is a good experience for them to use that foreign language without any stress...they fail their english paper for sure because they are the groups who have the allergy to EL at first but i help them to understand the basic and simple way to use english language.most of them have their FB account, i am proud that they use english when sharing their post. we may not be able to prepare them to be academically excellent but always remember that we are preparing them to be human who always put learning process as part and parcel in their life


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