A Crack in the Wood & A Splash in the Sand

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my last assignment. Just a few days ago, I sat for my final exam. The next semester? It’s all practicum. I’ll be going to SMK Seri Saujana (info, anyone?) with Hanin and Mira, but this post isn’t about practicum. Not yet. It’s not that I’m not ready to go into school for actual teaching. I’ll be lying if I say I’m not scared, because I am, but I’m not ready to let go just yet.

I may be quick to have a change of heart at certain things, but to let go of the last five years is something very hard. I know I’d still see my best buddies until the end of this semester and during practicum. Next year is still over 6 months away but I’m already thinking about separation. I know I’m not close to every one of my coursemates, but I acknowledge and applaud them for their unique personality that makes them… well, them. You can describe someone without mentions of names and we’d probably right away know whom you’re talking about. If I can sum up my coursemates in one word, I only know of one:

A W E S O M E

I probably won’t ever come across similar lot of people anymore – people with talents ranging from sewing to drawing to singing to playing multiple musical instruments to sports et cetera et cetera. It makes me a bit sad. When I return to my hometown, it’s probably going to be even harder to find people like them. Don’t try to correct me. I know this by experience. Even if you think your lot is 100 times more awesome, I can’t verify that since I don’t know them (duh!). Will there still be someone who’d listen to me when I speak or joke?

When I was in secondary school, I remember my teacher saying something like “The friends you make during the last 5-6 years of your life as students are likely to be the ones who’d stay in touch with you throughout your whole life our of pure friendship. They’re likely to be the ones you’d remember the most anyway, so cherish them always.” I seriously hope this is true.

Mira, Hanin, Khairiyyah, Nisrin, Hijrah, Lucille, Zu Lee, Rozi, Dyau, Fifi (I’m stuck calling you that, LOL, sorry!), Zaki, Fayadh, Atie and the name goes on. You guys know which ones of you lot changed bits and pieces of my previously monotonous life. You made me smile, smile, smile, laugh, cry, laugh, smile, cry, smile, and you let me feel all sorts of feelings and emotions – so much that sometimes I’m scared of how dependent I’ve become on my friends. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you for even listening to whatever I’ve crapped about.

I’ve been through changes, like the once smooth surface of wood now lavished with cracks here and there that let sunshine, wind and even rain through. Some parts, though, remain the same, but not so – just like a splash of water to the sand. Splashes after splashes, changes in texture are bound to happen, but they probably would not be so noticable, unlike those obvious cracks in the wood. Some changes made me happy, some not so. I want to leave IPBA so much because sometimes, it feels like I’m living in a military camp where some of the higher ups bark rudely and bitchy-ly most of the times. At the same time, I don’t want to leave my friends and the happy time we had.

And now I also have wonderful juniors as apartment mates and young friends, and special mention to Shap for being my cute and not so naive (anymore because there’s Mira and me , LOL) roommate. Our time of knowing each other is short, but at least I want you people to know how happy you made me feel when you acknowledged my existence.

I’m being emotional. Maybe it’s the time (4.18am). Maybe it’s just me.

And now I’ve lost the stream of words I was supposed to write down. Maybe I’ll continue later.

Ciao.

p.s/ Credit to Zaki for the photo.

In Which I’ve Been Up to No Good Again

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My Good Ol’ Photoshop in Action (Painter tab is minimised there)
Again, it’s a Reborn! fanart. What else do I draw this past few months? Lol.

I’m finally updating this blog after a long while. My inconsistency astounds even myself, and that’s pure sarcasm right there. Hur. I’ve been updating my Livejournal, Dreamwidth and some other logs, but not my main blog. What a shame. Since I’m still lazy to construct proper paragraphs, I’ll just write in bullet points.

  • Rikaichan has been pampering me way too much and now I’m lazier than ever to browse through my dictionary for unfamiliar kanji characters.
  • I just realised that I can now understand 98% of fast Japanese speech in J-Dramas/Anime without looking at the dictionary. This helps when I’m watching (more like listening to, actually) Zetsubou-sensei’s random tales dripping with pure poisonous sarcasm. Who said self-teaching doesn’t pay off, huh?
  • Japanese writing skills have improved at least 50% more now that I have a bilingual Japanese/English fanwork site to maintain. Replying to visitor comments, e-mails and webclap comments helps a lot.
  • My drawing skills are improving steadily although they still suck like there’s no tomorrow.
  • I may need to buy a new tablet before going back to Malaysia. Problem? I’m broke. Broke. BROKE!! *sobs*
  • I think my Linguist 307 assignment was CRAP. Oh well, the subject IS crap anyway.
  • I should be doing my Langtchg 302 assignment, but I’m still procrastinating
  • I’ve been reclaiming all blog posts that I can retrieve from my old domains via Wayback Machine. It’s a great, great help. I’m feeling nostalgic just looking at those old sites. Greymatter, b2, Movable Type and Newspro days! How nostalgic indeed~
  • Services offered by FC2, Ninja Tools and a few other sites ROCK!! I’ll be perusing the web for more similar awesomeness.

Before I forget:

HAPPY RAMADHAN AND HAPPY FASTING TO MYSELF AND ALL MY MUSLIM FRIENDS!

Now I wonder how long it’s going to take until my next update.

Of English, Math and Science: A Student’s Perspective

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- Winter in Full Bloom a.k.a Spring is Coming -

The picture has nothing to do with the post; it’s just my habit of posting pictures I took. So… Disregarding the fact that I’m a teacher trainee, I was a student taking SPM five years ago and I am still a student today. I’m simply sick and tired of random speculations and whatnot regarding the Malaysian government’s decision of reverting back to using Bahasa Malaysia in the teaching of Mathematics and Science. As a student, I don’t favour this change mainly because of the implementation.

Even if this change is inevitable, I think it is a lot better to take it slow. If it’s 2012, then make it so only Year 1 students of primary schools (or whatever year they start learning Science in full force) learn Mathematics and Science (MT) in English. Let them be the pioneers of the change. Why bother confusing the students who have studied MS in English for six years in primary schools so soon as they enter secondary schools? Let them study MS in English as they had for the past six years all the way to the university. I talked about this with my Mom (a retired English teacher) on the phone and she said, ‘Nah, they won’t feel the heat much. You know how in our place they don’t even teach Science, Maths and even English language in full English.

Guess what I think about this MS in English thingie? It’s somewhat of a non-issue in various places in the country, mostly the less developed parts where you often get remarks like ‘Berlagak la kau!’ or ‘Macam bagus je cakap orang putih. Tui’. Ironically, strong protests usually come from the same area. Before you go throwing bricks and attempt to kill me for calling it a non-issue, I’ll just share with you the outcome of my observations. I’ve been to a few schools (in Malaysia, including the short school-based experience in my first year), stopping by to observe how classes are taught. My observations were of course done discreetly.

Outcome of Observation: Most of the classes I’ve observed were bilingual in nature, meaning that the teachers and students used both English and BM.

It’s rare to see MS classes being taught in full English. Heck, even the standalone English subject isn’t taught fully in English. If you’ve been trained as a teacher, surely you remember the teaching approaches? I’m not exactly an A student, but I can refresh your memory if you’ve forgotten. So what are the principles of second language learning?

  1. Grammar-Translation Approach
  2. Direct Approach
  3. Reading Approach
  4. Audiolingual Method
  5. Community Language Learning
  6. The Silent Way
  7. Communicative Approach–Functional-Notional
  8. Total Physical Response

Look at the first approach on the list. When I learned about this, I immediately thought, ‘that kind of sums up the teaching of English in whatever subject I’ve learnt’. Maybe it produces minimal and slow effects, but it’s still the best way to deal with students who lack the commands (and vocabularies) of English.

In a way, teaching English in Malaysia couldn’t be worse than teaching English to second language learners (ESOL students) in native English countries. Take New Zealand for example. The English teacher in the classroom does not share the same mother tongue as his/her students who might be native speakers of Thai, Japanese, Chinese or Korean. Grammar-Translation is absolutely out in this case, so he/she must find other approaches to teach English effectively to ESOL students. Taxing, no?

People keep saying ‘few teachers are competent in English to teach the subject in that language’, but I call that opinion a total bullcrap. Teachers are not perfect, and so they seek to get better and better most of the time. With time and practice, teachers improve for the better.

I’m talking about teachers whose souls are into teaching the minds of the young here. I’m not talking about people who chose teaching as a profession because they couldn’t get anything better, or because it guarantees them a job. In plain Malay, ‘Habis dah tak ada pilihan, nak buat macam mana lagi?‘ or ‘Aku jadi cikgu ni sampai habis kontrak je. Lepas tu aku blah la‘ or even ‘Jadi cikgu la best. Banyak cuti‘ and so on so forth. I don’t mean to offend anyone, but if you’re offended, I’m not sorry. It’s just that to find a truly dedicated teacher is a bit of a task. The word ‘dedicated’ is not simply an English adjective for ‘berdedikasi’. Oh wait, wasn’t ‘dedikasi’ derived from English as well? What happened to the glorious term ‘berhemah’? In use in frozen documents, mostly.

Now back to the point I was making. It says something about our educators if teachers aren’t competent in English. They are in no way not competent. That’s like saying they don’t know how to use English in basic conversation. Some of them only lack the command of English. LACK is the proper word to use here. I wonder though… I always thought you learn those critical subjects mostly in English in universities (now where are my brother’s old notes, hm?). Defensive, am I not? It’s my thoughts and it’s my profession in about less than two years, so suck it up 😛

To those who protest or rejoice, or whatever, I hope you have at least attempted to read the curriculum specifications and the syllabi of English, Mathematics and Science before actually stating your claims. A little bit more research on how the subjects are actually taught and learnt would help your debate points. Trust me.

This post may or may not have a second part. Chances are… there will be a second part as I’m still inspired.

p.s/ Bahasa Inggeris tak boleh, tapi bahasa pinjaman yang makin berlambak (dan agak merepek, juga tak sedap mulut menyebut) tu boleh lah pula ya? Ironi, ironi.
p.p.s/ Oh my, what a long entry. I refuse to put it under ‘read more’ tag, though XD

Morning Tea Mingle at the Old Government House

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At one of the hallways at the Old Governtment House, University of Auckland

Today was supposed to be my day off, seeing as how I only have classes on Tuesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, I have a weekly housekeeping session as well as a 2-hour Professional Development (ProDev) course with Sheryll, but they don’t actually apply as ‘classes’. We, IPBArians, have been invited to a morning tea with representatives from the Malaysian Ministry of Education (Pn. Kartini and… Ok, I forgot the other official’s name. Bad me =O).Basically, we introduced ourselves to them, and listened to speeches by John et al.

It was during this meeting that we were informed of the new B.ed TESOL cycle (the third and supposedly last cycle). The next cycle is going to be a big one (more than 500 will be sent overseas for cohort 1 and 2 of the new cycle every year), and 90% of them are going to be primary school students. Compared to us, 130 students, that’s going to be a lot to manage. I wish our coordinators luck on dealing with a relatively larger number of students.

After the intros and speeches, it was time for the awaited morning tea. I admit that I’m one of those money-oriented ones attending the meeting for free morning tea + lunch. Not working this year, so money… Yeah.

There were fruits, scones, French macaroons, orange juice, tea and coffee. Seriously, the macaroons were awesome when taken with creamy butter filling (I didn’t take the raspberry/strawberry ganache). I ate two and brought one home. Now that I think about it, I should have taken some more (LOL).

Library: The book by Widdowson that I want is currently on loan until the first week of April. Grr. I’m tempted to just recall the book, but since I can still make do without it, I won’t be too hasty. I borrowed a few books on Linguistics, language in general and the teaching of English and literature in the classroom. They look so interesting that I couldn’t resist.

Fun times: Atie visited mine and Mira’s apartment this evening. We had fun playing NDS and listening to oldies, which of course include our infamous Malaysian jiwang karat and rock kapak songs. Hahahaha. No, really, please don’t ask. Finally, someone who likes those awesome songs from the 90’s!

Skype woes: On another matter altogether, I’ve been having bad experience with Skype lately. Skypeout and video calls have been extremely poor in quality. Bloody volcanoes. Bloody storm. Bloody backward-technology broadband. Why is Skype the only one affected? Hurrrr.

Almost A Week’s Worth of Updates

I should seriously start keeping all my lecture notes together before I forget. I’ve been making lots of extra notes, plus some extra readings for leisure (switching back and forth between fanfictions and academic resources, ha!)

Shakespeare’s Tempest & Men in Tights: Pardon the lame title, but to this day, I am still amused when I see men wearing tights. I went to see the play ‘The Tempest’ last Sunday night (the 8th of March) with a bunch of friends (namely Mira and Atie). The guy who played Ariel was so adorable, though he’s too thin to be called handsome. During then interval, Mira and I ran back to our apartment to get a warmer sweater. The weather was trying to mimick the play we were watching. Since the event was held outdoor, you can probably imagine the wind that night. You can see some shots from the play below. Sorry for the poor quality. They were only taken with my slim cybershot.

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Dress Smart & Shopping: I went shopping at Dress Smart for two weeks in a row (Thursdays). Must be a record. I just couldn’t resist all the great deals. I mean, where the hell can you get David Lawrence items for $10? The original price was $199.90, so getting it at $10 is like a bloody bargain. I got a new pair of Nike shoes for only $45 (kid’s size. Haha~), and some other items for an average of $15 per item. That’s enough supply of clothings for this year, I guess. I don’t have to worry about clothes anymore… unless winter bites REALLY badly.

Classes: I totally forgot to update about my choice of electives. I ditched Mathematics for Education (EDUC 316 – Gifted Education) and Language Teaching (LANGTCHG 310 – Literature and Language Teaching).  I’m with Atie, Hirah and a few more of my friends in 310, and with Mira, Atie and a few more in 316. I’m enjoying both classes so far. I guess I have to praise myself a little bit for daring to take Stage III papers for both electives. Go, self! You can do it. I guess the main reason I chose stage 3 papers is because stage 3 papers count towards my honours. I need to get at least B on ALL stage 3 papers to qualify for honours. Urgh. Need. To. Study. Smarter. And. Harder.

Projects: All projects are still on hold. I know. I’m darn lazy. If anyone needs to contact me, please do not bother leaving messages on my chat box. Please e-mail me directly, thanks.