Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Teacher Talk (27): Tips and guides in teaching English

Your response to the following email is much appreciated. The sender has given me permission to publish.

To: ""
Sent: Monday, May 21, 2012 3:24 PM
Subject: Tips and Guides in teaching English

Assalamualaikum Teacher Rahmah,

I am ***, a Food Technology student in *** Shah Alam. I found your blog englishOASIS through my google search on how to teach English. FYI, i am planning to conduct English Home Tuition for PMR and UPSR students. It is one-to-one teaching basis.

Therefore, would you give some tips and guides on how to teach English in an effective way? Since this is my first time doing it. I hope that by teaching English, i will also learn and improve on the language at the same time.:)

Thank You.

Best Regards,

The Thinking Teacher

Monday, 28 May 2012

Dr Basil Wijasuriya Silver Award, 21st MELTA International Conference, Sunway Putra Hotel

The 21st MELTA international conference in Sunway Putra Hotel, KL ended yesterday. Didn't I have a scare on presentation day? Silly me forgot my charger and efforts to transfer the ppt. to the organiser's notebook failed. The notebook was awfully sloooww and I wondered how I was going to go online! Luckily, a good friend offered to help with his notebook, unifi and all. How can I thank him enough. My paper presentation was ok. Just glad I managed to share.  It was good to meet some old friends, Adibah, Rosmawati, Shantini and many more and to meet up with my blog visitors. Congrats to Shantini for being awarded the Dr Hyacinth Gaudart Award! I found the conference pretty quiet this time around though. There seemed to be something missing. Couldn't quite put a finger to it but something was amiss. Maybe the big names?

The winners for the Dr Basil Wijasuriya Award for Best Teacher Presenter were:

Gold: Shantini Karalasingam (Selangor)
Silver: Rahmah Hj Sayuti (Johor)
Bronze: Nor Fadzleen Saadon (Johor)

The silver award was a total surprise. I won the Dr Basil Wijasuriya Award for Best Teacher Presenter in 2009 but there was only one recipient at the time. I wasn't aware I was evaluated so I had a good time just sharing. It's wise that the organisers have decided to award three teachers now so that more teachers have the chance of wining. It felt good to share what you've done in the classroom with other teachers.  I left earlier and didn't wait for the closing ceremony. I headed for Sg Besi for a family matter but Yati from Pelangi (thanks Yati) texted me to let me in on the news. A pleasant surprise indeed. To be honest, I think I'm too old for competitions...I wish to see younger teachers come to MELTA and share their ideas and methods in such a platform. I've always encouraged teachers in my own little town, Kluang and other teachers through my blog to attend such conferences to open our minds to new discoveries in teaching and research.

I love Dr Ruani Tupas' lecture on current developments in ELT and the potential of bilingualism. According to Dr Tupas (National University of Singapore), research shows that learners who learnt English bilingually outperformed their peers in the long term. Interesting finding indeed. A research by a Korean presenter on homogeneous and heterogeneous groups and the impact on conducting group work also caught my attention.  Attending conferences is like food for the soul, if I may borrow such an expression. The teacher's soul needs to be nourished with new knowledge and skills especially for senior teachers like me. 

I was piqued (stimulated or irritated hehe..) by one enthusiastic or rather over-enthusiastic SYT (sweet young thing) who commented in Dr Ruannis' plenary that she believed that bilingualism was a good thing for L2 learners to pick up English but that the 'senior teachers' in her school frowned at her use of BM in teaching English. She went on to say that senior teachers 'got their license to teach 30 years ago' and they need to keep up with the times. Ouch! What do you think senior teachers?  I for one support bilingualism  but it is a question of how much of BM, when? and what? Senior teachers don't reject bilingualism especially in the context of ESL. It comes naturally for non-native teachers to use their mother tongue in the classroom but perhaps there is this inexplicable feeling of 'guilt' on the part of the teacher when they use BM and hence they'd rather deny using the mother-tongue to teach English. I can assure you I have no problems keeping up with the times too :) It's called passion. Research that throws light on the benefits of bilingualism and multilingualism are much welcome as they open our eyes to current issues in language learning.

I also visited all the Teacher Showcase booths to learn from the innovations presented by teachers all over Malaysia. The strange thing though was that some of the teachers taking part in the showcase did not explain what they were showcasing clearly. There was one that was pretty muddled. The pair left me confused as to what the aims of their innovation were. It seemed the aims were multi-pronged and too wide for any particular impact- listening and speaking, vocab, assessment etc. Some were 'defensive' when answering questions. Thought the questions from visitors would be useful as a warm-up before the evaluators came. Many concentrated on phonics, which is the current focus of KSSR and I had a good time learning a thing or two. Primary education has always amazed me because I think you need a special talent to teach primary pupils and I don't have that :) 

The second conference will be held in Kuching on 7-8th June. I see interesting papers for the Kuching venue. One is Dr Ganakumaran's paper on 'The Truths about Creativity in the Classroom'. Perhaps in the future I should venture to Kuching :)

The Thinking Teacher

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Kluang celebrates Teacher's Day...

Date: 18 May 2012
Venue: Dewan MPK, Chamek, Kluang

I received the District Innovative Teacher award from the honourable YB Hoo Seong Chang (Paloh Assemblyman) who was the official representative of Dato' Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn today. This happens to be the fourth such award and I feel blessed. I hope the award will motivate me to work harder and to continue experimenting innovative ways in teaching. I will be sharing the innovation in MELTA 2012 next week. Thanks to Mariana (GKMP Sasem) for taking some photos. 

YB Hoo, Tn Hj A. Manaf Muslimin (Kluang PPD Officer) and yours truly...

The Thinking Teacher

Saturday, 19 May 2012

MBMMBI Kluang District Course

Date: 14, 15 and 17th May 2012
Venue: SML Sri Lalang, Kluang

The second phase of the course came to a close recently. Glad to have met many young and enthusiastic teachers. Thanks to one and all and especially to my co-trainers Huda (SMK Kahang Timur), Shamsath (SMK Jalan Kota) and Maimunah (SMK Spg Renggam). Thanks to Tn Hj Mahyudin Salim, English Officer from PPD Kluang for giving me the opportunity to train these teachers. I hope to be able to work with the participants in future endeavours :) Keep the passion burning!!

Some reflections from the course participants:

1. Teaching writing is the most difficult part for me. I'm really worried about my students who are very poor and ow proficiency. But through this phase I learnt how to mark my students essays. I think the usage of Prose Models are very effective. I would like to use it in my class after this. I'm really impressed by Pn Rahmahs' slot. I don't know whether I can be like her.. I hope so..

2. The writing activities presented in this session really help me in figuring out other methods and techniques that are useful for my teaching of writing. Teaching writing always becomes a threatening session to my students and sometimes I feel upset when the students are unhappy with the lesson. Hopefully, I can make their writing lesson a better thing after this. THANK YOU...

3. Well, I enjoy the phase three very much. That's because I learn new way to make writing lesson more efficient. For instance, we learn to focus only on 2 key features each time we mark the essay and 'refocus' these key features during the next lesson. And, seriously, Prose Model approach plus process approach is helpful. I will apply it. Lastly, thanks for this course (3 phases)

4. I find this session very useful for me as I think using the new technique (prose model) can really help me to help my students who are very weak at writing. It's not they don;t know, they just have no confidence and model of what they have to write and how. It's really nice if I can help my students improve their writing and help them develop their confidence to write, not only for exams but for their lives.

5. Writing is the best part. I really gain knowledge on how to practise writing approach which is effective and useful for my students. I am very lucky to be selected for this course!!! If there is any advance course related to teaching development, please call me...TQ. I'm happy happy happy.

6. I had a lot of valuable information through the writing session. I am very sure that I can make and bring the model/prose approach and process approach into my classroom and will benefit my students.

7. The course had been very useful by giving me ideas and alternatives in making writing lesson more accessible and achievable to students. I just realised that I have been doing process writing in my classroom. But through this course it helps develop what I've been doing. Now, I can understand what I've been doing wrong in my classroom. Which part to improve, what to add and what to cut out from what I've repeatedly done. I hope to attend more courses like this. I can't wait to try things out with my students.

8. The usage of the prose model is very effective because it serves as a platform for every student, regardless of their proficiency level. Students are able to write and then learn from the prose model provided. Pn Rahmah's talk was very benefiicial and I learn a lot from her ideas. She is an inspiring woman.

9. At the end of the course, I found that there's always other ways in teaching students. I have been motivated and inspired by Pn Rahmah. Hopefully I can be just like her one day since I'm still green in teaching experience. I will practise everything that all the facilitators taught me in my teaching classrooms. Thank you very much for everything. Prose model session helps me a lot.

The Thinking Teacher

Friday, 18 May 2012

21t MELTA Conference is next week!

Melta conference is next week from the 27-29th May in Sunway Putra Hotel, KL. I hope to learn innovative teaching methods and to purchase some good books from the conference Here's the programme for Day 1.

 For the rest of the programme click
 KL Programme

or go to MELTA for the latest information.

The Thinking Teacher