Monday, 31 January 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year to all friends, visitors and students. May all of us fulfill our dreams this year!

(Credit: Google Images)

Sunday, 30 January 2011

MELTA 2011

Here's another opportunity to learn and network in English Language Teaching.

(credit: MELTA)

20th MELTA International Conference
"English Language Education and Global Learning: Policy, Practice, Performance"
Primula Beach Resort, Kuala Terengganu
30 May – 1 June 2011

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA) has been hosting its conferences for 20 years now, in line with its mission to extend the borders of education and learning. This year, the theme focuses on English Language Education and Global Learning: Policy, Practice, Performance.

Our lives are inextricably intertwined in this borderless world and we are all witnesses to this new reality. Nations are investing heavily in revamping their education policies to ensure that future generations are prepared for the rigours of the global economy. These new policies must translate into concerted efforts to ensure that students are equipped with knowledge of the world – its cultures, environments and social systems. We need Global Learners who possess the knowledge, skills and attitude needed to critically evaluate and understand the world around them. They need to appreciate cultural differences and rely on this knowledge when participating in this multicultural, interdependent world.

English Language Education plays an especially important role in moulding global learners. The English language classroom provides the right platform for skills development, and learning opportunities for understanding and empathising. The time is right to evaluate the role of English Language Education in Global Learning. Are the right policies in place and are they being realised through accurate practice and measurable performance?

This conference aims to bring together policy makers, administrators, practitioners and researchers to deliberate on this important theme. Malaysian teachers are especially encouraged to use this platform to share and make an impact on the ELT landscape.

We welcome presentations that engage with the following sub-themes :

-Workplace Literacy
-Pedagogical Approach
-Online and Distance Learning
-Outcome-based Learning
-Special Education
-Formal and Alternative Assessment


Presentations may be in the form of paper presentations (30 mins), Teacher Showcase (30 mins), poster presentations (30 mins), workshops (60 mins), panel discussions (60 mins) and commercial product demonstrations (30 mins). All presentations shall be made in English.


The conference also promises the following special events :

- MELTA-Smart Kids Way With Words Competition ( Malaysian schools)

- MELT-A-HEART (Corporate and individual)

- Basil Wijasuriya Award for Best Malaysian Teacher Presenter

- The Creative Teacher Showcase Award


Download the following forms:




Submission of Abstract and biodata : 26 February 2011
Registration and Payment : 15 April 2011
Submission of full paper for Conference CD* : 15 April 2011

*Papers submitted for inclusion in the conference CD will be considered for publication in either of the two MELTA journals (Malaysian Journal of ELT Research and The English Teacher) as well as the SASBADI-MELTA ELT Series. The CD will have an ISBN.

Should you need further assistance, please contact MELTA at

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association
G-11-2, Putra Walk ,
Taman Pinggiran Putra,
Bandar Putra Permai,
43300 Seri Kembangan,
Tel: 03-89453137 /  +6017-6047490



ICELT 2011

ICELT 2011 

International Conference on English Language Teaching

“Teaching English as Performing Art”

ICELT 2011 invites papers on all aspects of ELT and English Language Studies
Deadline for Proposals: 30th June 2011
18-20 September 2011
Swiss-Garden Golf Resort and Spa
Damai Laut, Perak

Organized by


Saturday, 29 January 2011

Teacher Talk 15:Year One Textbooks Errors

What are your views? Comments welcome.

(credit: NST Online)


I LOOKED at the 2011 Year 1 English textbook and to say I am shocked by the contents is an understatement.
The book is riddled with errors in grammar, vocabulary and sentence structure, more than what I have seen in previous textbooks.

Obviously, it is a poor, half-hearted attempt at writing a textbook by people who do not know the language well.

These are some of the errors (in italics) I noticed:
- He closed his eyes and fell aslept. (p28)

- Is it a pin in the tin? (p29)

- Vary the song with other actions. (p 33)

- Pat saw the map. (p41) (The correct expression should be "looked at")

- Pupils take turn... (p45)

- What do you like to have as a birthday gift? (p54)

- Pupils name the picture and segment it. (p55) (How do you segment a picture? It should be "segment the word")

- Our flag has four colours. There are blue, red, yellow and white. (p 59)

- Tom picks the mug. (p61) (It should be "picks up")

- Paste in it the book. (p62)

- After the word is formed, pupils blend to read the words. (p65) (What are the pupils blending here?)

- Pull out the two triangles apart. (p70)

- Fold both bottoms up on each side. (p70)

- Eat less sweet. (p82)

- Stress on the phonemes... (p91) ("on" should be omitted)

- Repeat the process alternately. (p95)

There are also errors in structure and logic. On page 52, in the rhyme on days of the week, Monday and Saturday have been inadvertently left out.

Expressions like "chalks, coloured pencils" (p73) should be written as "pieces of chalk" and "colour pencils". On page 112, "horse saddle" is stated as a form of transportation. Why is "saddle" used in this phrase?

The title "So Hairy and Scary" (p121) for a topic on animals that include giraffes and crocodiles is inappropriate. Another title, awkwardly written as "One word to many" (p132), could have been better worded. And throughout the book, pupils are asked to "chant" a poem or rhyme. In this context, the word "chant" is incorrect.

I lost count of the number of errors; there are just too many. Ideas and sentences are poorly linked and many of the rhymes and poems border on the ridiculous.

Writers should be cautious when writing poems. Just because we have "poetic licence does not mean we do away with sense and logic.

I noticed that there were three writers and four editors for the book. I cannot understand how not even one of them noticed the errors.

The book is published by Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka, but I am wondering whether the Curriculum Development Centre (Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum) and Textbook Division (Bahagian Buku Teks) vetted the book before publication.

Don't all divisions in the Education Ministry work together on such matters? Why have the concerns raised by the public about the English language fallen on deaf ears?

With so many blunders, I foresee a bleak future for our education system. This is certainly not the way forward.

Teachers who are proficient would have a good laugh over the textbook content and resort to other resources when teaching English. Those who are oblivious to the mistakes will be teaching inaccurate language.

Sadly, young learners are the victims and will start off the new year learning broken English.

As far as English is concerned, we're off to bad start.


Teacher Talk 14: English Teachers and Their Complicated But Boring Way of Teaching

How about this for thought teachers? Comments welcome.

(credit: The Star Online)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

English Teachers and Their Complicated But Boring Way of Teaching
Posted by: frodonet
When I was a student, I find it hard to go to school because school is boring.Not only have to endure boring subjects, but instead have to endure the boredom of the
subject itself. Not only that, listening to few hours of lessons and 30 minutes of miserable recess
where you might spend 20 minutes just to queue and fight for food.

But of all the dry subjects that we learn in school, english would have to be the only salvation for a little bit of smile. But there's a big NO NO. There's not even a single English teacher that really made the subject fun. Most of them would do the same thing all over again.

Year after year, it is the same old thing about verb, noun, clauses, grammar and bla bla bla. Seriously, until now I don't really know what is a verb. Personally I do not care. I find that teaching English should be different. It should be fun.

Have you guys forgotten how stale the teachers made it to be? They probably will ask us to write a sentence, if you are right, you get a long tick, but if you are wrong you must just get a big spanking and the worst of all, they will ask you to write a proper sentence with verb
and a noun and another noun and all the other things they'll ask you to do.

Well, fortunately, I learnt English a different way. I manage to get through and I find it a little
disturbing that my younger youths would go through the same boring, stale, and yawning process.
I just don't understand why English teachers in Malaysia can't make the subject fun.

What's really wrong in cracking a couple of jokes and being more creative? Is it so hard to smile and
encourage participation from students. No, you see a lot of teachers, they are really not that open and creative.
I was thinking about the bad english we have it here. How can students learn English if they are not taught in a fun and interesting manner?

And, What's really the big hooha with the recent PMR english mistake, wow, wooo ~ there were 2 experts arguing with each other in the paper. She's wrong, No, She's right, and no he's right???. Seriously who cares.
I was reading the arguments between these 2, with all the complicated explanations about clauses and pre noun, and whatever..

I was like what the...

English is NOT supposed to be constricted. English is supposed to be outside the box. So what if there's some big mistakes, the world not going to stop rotating anyway.

Seriously, if people read the amount of books I have, maybe they really understand what is English really about.

And currently I'm teaching a foreigner some English after all, and at the same time, that person is taking a paid course in English.

That person told me that's there a huge difference and that person progressed a lot as well due to me, better than the paid course.

PS : I personally believe English is about communication, rather than some text book premonition...

The week that was...

1. The week that was saw disharmony created in what was a usually harmonious situation.  Unkind words were hurled to those who disagreed with the change. The funny thing was, there was no instruction to change anything! It was merely a suggestion! However, two enterprising souls decided to test the change.  And test they did only to be copied by a trail of confused people. In the midst of the mind boggling exercise, the two enterprising souls came to my table and admitted  to not liking the change verbally to me and my colleague. As a matter of fact, one of them frantically asked me to grab the mike (was there one?) and speak to the crowd as she was dead against it. Huh? A level-headed person would not resort to such a thing because I would've unnecessarily embarrassed some people and I certainly didn't want to be rude...Alas, I was horrified to say the least, to witness the change take place ever so quickly. No survey was ever conducted earlier. The survey was done AFTER the change took place to rectify the earlier mistake. Well,  if you ask me the change took place in record time it deserves mention in the Malaysia Book of World Records! Don't get me wrong. I'm not against change if it's reasonable and I'm not a hypocrite. I was the only one who raised my hand (twice) when I knew many more disagreed. I feel sorry for those who couldn't stand up for themselves.

This is my two-cents worth, not that it would change anything now. Change is good if it doesn't cause disharmony and misunderstandings. If an earlier situation doesn't hurt anyone then change is unnecessary. Unfortunately,  ego took control. The change has definitely caused disharmony and it will take some time before it heals. What I've learned from the event is it's hard to find people you can trust and depend on. I have lost all respect for those who said one thing earlier and now say another. Do you really need such people in your life?

You could ask me 'why do I bother?' I could and should be selfish as my little place is not affected (although now some are asking why my row has not complied with the you understand what I mean by having principles and not doing something because the herd did it). Well,  my response to this question is:

I'm just a member who pays my membership fee without fail, I'm just a member who sits in this small place I call my workplace, I'm just a member who dislikes disharmony at the workplace, I'm just one old teacher who appreciates the little privacy and space I have in my quad,  I'm just one of the senior teachers whose opinion was never sought and whose existence was totally ignored.

People, the maths is easy. Which is more comfortable? 4 or 6? I rest my case :)

2. Getting my students to cooperate and do something useful to improve their English is so difficult sometimes. They understood the rational of the project but action was lacking. If they thought they had done a good job with their journals last year, only about fifteen did a good job. Now, I'm giving them the chance to do it online in the comforts of their homes. Last Friday was the culmination of the frustration to get them to do their part! I was very angry and you are not nice when you're become a M.O.N.S.T.E.R and that time of the month did not help either... This was a terrible week although I enjoyed the workouts at the gym :)

Let's hope for a better week next week!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

To do next week...

Things I need and should be doing next week lest I forget :) 
  • LET schedule for semester one
  • Beginners grammar module
  • proficiency test for 4PD
  • literature project with 5S2 and 4S1
  • breathe :)

Well done Yellow House!

I'm so proud of you girls..congrats for winning the x-country!!! congrats to the captain (see you can do it) and Pn Maheswary as the house mistress!!!

Let's not stop here girls..go for the BIG one on Sports Day :)

Add caption

Teacher Talk 13: Should we teach grammar in isolation or in context?

thank you for your question and permission to publish the following:

20 January at 13:57 
Salam Mdm..I want to ask about teaching grammar. Which way is better to teach my low proficiency students teaching grammar in context or in isolation? Can you please give me some ideas. Thank you :)

My response

dear ____,

as far as i know, there's no research saying one is better than the other. very much depends on the principles in teaching grammar that a teacher adopts- whether u focus on form and meaning only or whether you focus on form, meaning and use. Some teachers think grammar as a fixed set of word forms and rules of usage. Hence, such teachers will focus on grammar as a set of forms and rules. They teach grammar by explaining the forms and rules and then drill students on them.(they believe drilling leads to mastery) But this overt grammar teaching results in students getting bored and disaffected. Yes, ss can produce correct forms on exercises and tests, but they consistently make errors when they try to use the language in context.

Other language teachers, make the difference between language learning and language acquisition. They tend not to teach grammar at all. Believing that children acquire their first language without overt grammar instruction, they expect students to learn their second language the same way. They assume that students will absorb grammar rules as they hear, read, and use the language in communication activities.

Then we also have the communicative competence model that balances the two views above. The model acknowledges that overt grammar instruction helps students acquire the language more efficiently, but it incorporates grammar teaching and learning into meaningful communication tasks. these communication tasks can be in the form dialogue, authentic samples of language etc. by doing this ss can internalise the rules.

I think what we need is an appropriate balance between exercises that help learners come to grips with grammatical forms, and tasks for exploring the use of those forms. This is the 'use' part. It's not enough to just focus on form and meaning. A mix and match of teaching grammar in isolation or in context is recommended. this is only mu opinion anyway..i hope i've answered ur question :) would u mind me publishing this in my blog? ur identity will be deleted of course. do let me know.. 

 ~the thinking teacher~

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Step by Wicked Step- Anne Fine

Finally, my latest book is available in bookshops! There is nothing more rewarding to writing than to have your name on a book- this is the main reason I write.  Sounds silly yes? What about monetary rewards? Well, to be honest, I may do better if I were to publish the book myself...publishers don't pay much for your intellectual property..something that should be look into so that the writer's rights are protected. It sounds easy to write a book but it's not. It requires a lot of research, creativity and time. Boy, was I desperate for time in the mad mad rush to complete this one! The other reason I write is because as a GC, I must disseminate knowledge and expertise by publishing academic articles or books related to my subject.  It's not enough to teach, I must publish. Besides, writing allows me to express my thoughts and ideas and to be able to share that with teachers and students can only be rewarding. Seeing my name on a book takes away all the stress, fatigue, writer's block (sometimes) etc. Alhamdulillah...
(By the way, the other writer wrote on the two poems)


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Listen and Write- dictation

To improve your listening skills and dictation, try out this wonderful site.

Teacher Talk 12: Need Your Advice!

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

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~

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

What my classes are made of this year..

4S2 in 2010
I just love all my classes this year! 5S2 is used to my style of teaching since I taught them last year, so lessons can be a breeze although they are somewhat noisier this year!  I see Pei Sze and the quartet talking more and more. And I don't want to assume that all the students are learning something because Wan Er always answers the questions! Three students were supposed to move up to 5S1 but they refused, thinking that it's way too competitive and stressful to be there. Quietly, am happy that Xin Tong, Sin Yek and Jia Yee are staying put (hehe) because I've taught them for a year and they've shown improvement , it'll be sad to lose them. Am hoping that Amalia, Valerie, well, all of them  will join ELDSS this year. Now, 4S1- although I have as many as 40 in 4S1, they are very attentive and eager to learn. They display that sense of humour too by responding to jokes and insinuations. 4P1 is the 'weakest' class am teaching this year. But I believe their potential has not been fully explored. Am itching to try many things with them and influence them to like English. The ice may not have been completely broken but it is just a matter of time. It's still too early to tell but I can feel the chemistry building between us. Let's hope the chemistry will transform into a very successful learning partnership.

This year will be about me and my classes and the innovations I'm going to try...something I hope to share in MELTA :)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Teacher Talk 11- A Lesson from pakcik Hassan..

This was pakcik's response to my questions- How do you teach English? What sort of resources do you use? I must explain that pakcik was an engineer by training and he is happily retired with his family in Terengganu. Visit Al Manar to be inspired by his stories. He has been giving free tuition to the children in his kampung via Al-Manar, a non-profit organisation. Although pakcik is not a trained teacher, he has produced results and his methods may put some of us so-called English optionists to shame! I'd like to share his email in this edition of teacher talk. 

Donn Bryne English Book that pakcik uses

Dear Rahmah,

Thank you for the reply.

I  wanted to get the two new literature components you mentioned but could not get from MPH or the Japanese shop. So I ordered from overseas and they are now in the post. The air-postage is very expensive but I have to do that when I cannot find locally what I want.

I am pleased to hear that you do not subscribe totally to 'standard' teaching technique. I do it my way because that is all that I know. Now let me see my approach to teaching English. I concentrate on form 1 to 3 pupils. Many leave the schools in my vicinity after getting good PMR results – admitted  into SBP, MRSM or Tech Schools. Form 4 and 5 groups come for English and with specific problems in Maths, Physics and Chemistry.
Being a one-man show I can only give three times a week to each group.  It is a seven-day-week for me.

If these children follow me faithfully, they really need not attend Math and English at school. And my target is 100% A in Maths and 50% A in English at PMR exam. But I do not give any PMR tests. Let the school concentrate on the exam ‘formats’, a method I DETEST. To me understanding must not be related to exam format, be it in English, Mathematics , Physics or Chemistry. An assistant principal of a secondary school here openly run me down in front of a group of selected Form 3 children and their parents, stressing the fact that I was  never trained as a teacher and would not know exam formats! He refused to accept the fact that practically all those in that group had been attending Almanar classes from F1, and none of them had 5A’s in their UPSR exam.

I have two English books which I go into detail with the children for three years. (1) Basic Comprehension Passages and (2) Intermediate Comprehension Passages, both by Donn Byrne - Published by Longman of London. They are old books, each with about 30 passages. The language is truly superb to me, true English. I have important words and phrases underlined for the children to pay attention. I choose Adibah Amin's Grammar Builders ( which comes in 5 volumes, 1 to 5 ). Adibah uses standard English, introducing words and phrases beautifully. As one goes through the series one will come across words of the same meaning being upgraded into more difficult words.
To save cost I have most materials, except Grammar Builders, photostated  for each pupil. I have 30 copies of each volume of the Grammar Builders for children to read in class. I encourage those who can afford it to buy the Grammar Builders for own reference at home.

I make pupils read aloud in turn in class the English books (to ensure proper pronunciation). I would explain in detail words and important phrases, making sure the children have all the words and phrases copied out into their 'Vocab Books'. Additionally I make copies of selected simplified English classics. I usually start with Jane Eyre followed by Heidi (both simplified).I have important words and phrases underlined for them to pay attention to. Reading aloud in turn is a general practice.

Apart from going through those books with the pupils I prepare my own notes on English grammar, making sure they fully understand  grammar, from Simple (present, past and future) to Continuous, Perfect and Perfect Continuous. I know for sure none of the schools here gives half what I give. For exercise I spend a lot of time making the children translate Malay sentences into English, progressing to translating passages from UPSR and PMR Malay essays. Only towards the end of form 2 and in form three I would ask them to write essays from scratch, the standard essay writing.

My philosophy:

To learn and be good at a language a child must build a large vovab and learn grammar in detail. Translating will ensure that the children will find that direct word for word does not do any good. For instance one should not say ' I want to go to sleep.’ As you know English children  will say ' I want to go to bed' . Children must learn to see such sentence as ' It is raining'  instead of 'Rain is falling' . Malay children naturally think in Malay but they must be aware at all times that direct translation is not always acceptable. ' I have no money, no friends' sounds very odd in Malay. And Malay children will never think of that kind of oddity. At the same time they must know that one can also say ' I do not have money, or/nor friends'

From experience, these kampong children will have about 3000 words in heir vocab book after three years with me.  I make doubly sure that every word must carry at least one sentence, and they read and reread this very important 'vocab book'.  I know many of them pride themselves in having put into memory the vocabs contained in the book (normally books).

I must admit most of the time I teach in Malay.  Many would be horrified at this. In reality, I have very limited time with them, running single-handed all the classes and teaching them the core subjects (except Malay). I want complete understanding. It is impossible to make most of them understand conversation in English. Secondly I do not wish to start using simple English just to make them understand. To compensate for that shortcoming somewhat, I normally make them read aloud the supplementary books, Jane Eyre and Heidi etc, correcting their pronunciation. These children lack practice in conversation. But I have no assistant. Like it or not, forced to make a choice, I choose to make sure that their written English is acceptable, hoping that they will, at some stage in time, have the opportunity to practice speaking in English.  

Towards the end of form 3 and into form4 and 5 I spend a lot more time showing how to effectively write complex and compound sentences. In any case I find it essential to make children appreciate the importance of of phrasal verbs and idioms, differences between Malay expressions and English equivalents. I encourage them reading Don't Look Now ( Daphne Du Maurier).

Form 4 and 5 pupils often have difficulties in understanding certain chapters in Chemistry and Physics. I do not use the local books for explanation. GCSE books are far superior because they stress more on the understanding of basic principles rather than lots and lots of details to put into memory. My background helps me a lot in making them understand.

Tutoring aside, I realise what matters most to these children are the words of encouragement and personal talks I have had with them. I suppose this is what counseling all about.

I think I have written long enough to bore you.                                                    

Tell me about what you said of making essays from pieces of newspaper cutting. I do not quite understand that. I often select newspaper headlines for common words/phrases to know. Making them read English newspapers at home is almost impossible.

I think I must stop here.

Pakcik Hassan.

Teaching the present perfect tense

Am teaching the present perfect tense tomorrow-yeah I know you're sighing too :) The most difficult tenses to teach in my opinion, are the present perfect and the past perfect. This is how I normally teach it:

  • I always teach it together with the simple past tense because the two contrast really well.
  • I use time lines to show the past and the present divisions on the board.
  • I maximise the use of the board (don't let the worksheets do the talking for you)
          E.g. I read the newspaper yesterday.
  • start with a sample sentence in the simple past and explain (explaining from a rule written on a worksheet is not effective, teacher explains why it's the simple past with the aid of the timeline)
  • then I write a sample sentence in the present perfect tense:
          E.g.  I have read the newspaper yesterday. (explain why this is wrong by writing the following on board:

  • the present perfect talks about how long and how many times- we don't need a specific time
  • the simple present talks about when
  • use questions too:  How many books have you read?/ How much money have you got? to reinforce the concept. Let ss answer in the present perfect.

  •  this is followed by practice sentences (yes, worksheets at the end for practice)

There are many videos on how to teach the tense in Youtube and TeacherTube. I hope my lesson will go well tomorrow. It all depends on whether my fever subsides. If you have any suggestions at all, please leave a comment. Tx. have a perfect Sunday :)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Teacher Talk 9: EnglishSMART Programme

Sent: Thu, August 12, 2010 2:07:22 PM
Subject: info on english smart pgrm

Salam Ms Rahmah,
My name ____and I need your help on some information regarding the English Smart Program. I'm an eng teacher in pahang. I really love to organize a pgrm like this. If it is ok with u can u share the module with me and the activities involve..TQ..really need and appreciate yr help n share of ideas..

My Response

salam ramadhan _____,
thanks for your interest. am attaching some documents that may help u. please adapt as necessary and all the best with your programme. very much depends on the aims of your programme. so i was not trying to be prescriptive. what i like to do in my blog is to share whatever i've carried out and i will be happy if that is achieved. i don't have a module for the activities. there are actually many fun activities u can find from the internet. one thing i should have done was english songs especially while they were waiting for the results of the games. u can teach them some simple folk songs while ur facees worked out the best group's answers to the crossword puzzles for example. all the best and let me know how it goes ok

~the thinking teacher~

Teacher Talk 8: Blog

03 January at 19:30
i like your blog..its help me a lot
My response
hi! thanks. am glad if it helps!

thanks for the encouragement:)

Sent: Fri, December 17, 2010 9:45:07 AM
Subject: Blogging

Saya minta maaf kerana menghantar email tanpa dipinta ini. Tetapi saya bimbang Pn Hjh akan berhenti menulis@blogging, saya rasa terpanggil kerana saya suka membacanya. Saya suka membaca tak kira buku, majalah, surat khabar , bahan internet/online-IKIM, SAIFUL ISLAM, dll. Saya tidak mahir menulis@ blogging, jadi saya rasa sayang jika insan2 spt Pn Hjh atau lain2 berhenti menulis.... sayang saya akan kehilangan hobi membaca blog berkenaan. Memang benar menulis memerlukan masa, membaca pun perlukan masa kerana semuanya kita perlu fokus kpd apa yang kita lakukan.

Alhamdulillah tidak semua org dianugerahkan Allah swt kebolehan@bakat yang sama. Oleh itu saya kira Pn Hjh sedia berkongsi maklumat, ilmu, pemikiran , idea bersama org lain. Bukan tujuan utk menunjuk, sombong tetapi dikongsi utk manfaat bersama. Kalau ada yg tidak suka@tidak minat utk membacanya... ada yg lain suka, saya kira begitulah resam manusia.... berbagai. teruskan menulis dan saya suka membacanya dan mendapat pengetahuan daripadanya kerana saya juga seorang guru, yg tidak sewajarnya sentiasa belajar seperti kata John Coton- "Learn, Relearn and Unlearn"

My response
terima kasih kerana memberi semangat kepada saya untuk terus blogging. tak sangka ada juga yang follow blog saya ye. naik semangat saya!! puan mengajar subjek apa dan di mana?

~the thinking teacher~

Teacher Talk 7: The Curse

Sharing session again

Salam mdm, I read the new novel but FYI i am not a big fan of it. The plot is okay and I think the language is easy to understand even though students will find difficulties to understand the expression and the literary devices (teacher should do something though). I am wondering why the CDC chose this novel and what are the criteria made the novel applicable to the students as a whole? I know this novel won 2nd place for hadiah sastera .Call me sensitive but it was really shocked when there is a question from Asraf What does Allah have against him?took madhuri and nek away from him?pg 203 I know this is a novel but as a muslim,we cannot question Allah for what had happened to us. I hope this is a right decision made by whom it may concern. Maybe I feel sensitive..hehehe..happy holiday 

anyway..thank you for sharing the modules in ur blog. It helps me to plan for my next year 'RPT'..I will put in cd and distribute to the english teachers at my school. Insya Allah :) 

My response:

well i haven't read it yet but it's interesting what u wrote about the Allah thing. i will have to read it to know the connotations. well, i just finished writing a book on the novel for perak, selangor- 'step-by-wicked step by anne fine- depressing...all about divorce!!

~the thinking teacher~

Teacher Talk 6: Pronunciation

From an e-student doing English:

19 November 2010 at 23:40  

hai, pn. u still remember me?!..haha^^
btw, i need ur help!!
i'm having pronunciation problem!!..i think most probably is because of my accent and i seldom using English to communicate..i couldn't pronounce some words accurately..
so, mdm, do u have any suggestions or ideas on how to improve frm tat? 
My response:
hi ________
how are u?
of course i remember u. the best way to speak well is to listen to how others speak (good speakers of course). as a student i used to be amazed at how people say words!! so listen to the deejays, listen to the newscasters and English programmes more ok. if u have a language lab in  u should use it. listen to the listening practice materials. and yes u must speak the language more often ok.

Teacher Talk 5: Journal Writing

Enquiries from teachers who are interested to try journal-writing with their students:

03 November 2010 at 18:07  
Salam, Pn Rahmah. I'm interested to do journal writing for my Form5 students next year. I just wonder how to make a good start with those students. Most of them (All of them actually) are not very good in English especially in writing. When I ask them to write some of them said "I cannot, I don't have idea". I'm grateful if you can help me. I'm not an English option teacher actually so I don't think I could manage to do excellent job as yours. Hope can share your experience. TQVM.

My response
salam ______,

i've received some emails concerning journal writing too. it's good that ur interested. however u mustn't be too ambitious if ur ss are weak as u mentioned. for ss to write something they must have some basic writing skills. i don't do it for all my classes as i know some are just not able to. if u have an average class or better then i will recommend it. for a start, u can explain why it's important to have contact with English through journal-writing. u can give them a list of topics if they have no idea what to write. you can find them easily over the internet. choose those that are easy and suitable for ur ss level. for those who can write, then it's not a problem. they don't need the suggested topics. get ss to write a paragraph or two first before they progress further. it all depends on the level of proficiency they have. obviously the better ones write longer. i award prizes for the best journals at the end of the year. all the best. you might want to read from the internet first on why we choose journal writing. all the best!

To: Rahmah Sayuti
Sent: Thu, August 12, 2010 11:39:58 PM
Subject: Tq

Salam Ms Rahmah,

really appreciate yr sharing and may Allah bless u n yr family. One more thing I want to ask yr opinion regarding journal writing. I've asked my students to write a journal n I'm using the sample that u put in yr blog as an example to my students. They have started to write their 1st page. As for yr info my students very weak in English because they r rural area students n have very limited access to the english sources and environment but i'm trying my best to encourage them to write n speak in english. Going back to the journal my students have written i found so many grammar mistakes in it. What should i do? should i correct all the mistakes because i'm worried if there to many red colour correction it will discourage them to keep writing in future..What is yr opinion..

My response

from my experience, journal writing is best done with average to good students. but don't be disheartened. carry on with what u've been doing but don't expect too much from ur students. short entries will do. i don't mark the errors because my aim here is fluency and not accuracy. what i mean by that is i would like my students to be able to write 'fluently' although with grammatical errors. they  will nt be stuck when writing essays they are used to writing  their journals (ideas come naturally). on the other hand, accuracy is what i aim for in their written work (exercise books). i state this out very clearly to them so they understand why they are writing their journals- to let them express ideas freely. from my experience (i've used journal-writing for more than 10 years), ss do improve and have confidence in expressing their ideas in essays/exams. what i do is comment on their stories, reflections, events. i hope this helps. where are u teaching by the way? i'm glad that u are trying to do things with your students to help them improve their english. all the best.

~the thinking teacher~

Teacher Talk 4: On materials selection and adaptation

A question I received via fb from a trainee teacher and my response:

assalammuailakum.I am a trainee teacher. I hope u are healthy . sorry for disturbing you. i am one of ur blog vistors. I actually need ur advice. actually, my friends and I need to do a lesson plan on how to teach english skill . so,we teach for pre lesson, brainstorming about hobbies, while reading , give text adapted from year 4 . n answers worksheets . lastly, we ask students to mime the hobbies and their firends need to guess. But we are required to write a reflection on our process selecting n adapting materials. n I am quite blur about this process. hope that u can give me any tips or resources .tq.

My response:
salam, my humble apologies to you. i just noticed i haven't replied ur email!! i must have missed it. thanks for ur question. ur question is on the reflection part ya? i think u need to mention on what basis u selected the materials and why do u need to adapt. was it due to ss levels? interest? background? age? gender? duration of lesson? these are some factors u can consider. sorry if this reply is sooooo late.

~the thinking teacher~

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

First week of school..

Our assembly started punctually at 7.20 a.m. with the senior assistant, Pn Hjh Mahizan Muhammud welcoming the students back to school. I felt enthusiastic and motivated to start off the term and so did the rest of the staff. Among the important things outlined in her speech were:

Hjh Mahizan Muhammud
  • emphasis on students' focus in school
  • the National Education Philosophy
  • School vision: Sekolah Unggul Penjana Generasi Gemilang
  • PMR 2010: 95.54%, GPS 1.64, 35 perfect scorers, Anugerah Sekolah Cemerlang (Kategori Sekolah Harian) Negeri Johor (twice in a row)
  • School Focus for 2011: PMR- 100%, SPM- 100%, 1 student, 1 sports policy
  • discipline and good manners at all times
  • the construction of the computer lab- progress and safety precautions
  • aiming for excellence in school attendance

Welcome back to SMKCC girls!

the computer lab site
smack in the middle of the quadrangle..

Suffice to say I'm excited about the computer lab although a lot more fund is needed for it to be completed. Congratulations to the PMR candidates for their excellent results! Let's hope for better news with the SPM results come March :)

'Sharing and caring is our way of life.'

~The thinking teacher~