What's All About English

English is a fun language, which inspire people from all walks of life. This language binds people from all over the world. So, don't be afraid of this language. It is a language of love, peace and humility.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Form 3 Novel- How I Met Myself

         It's such an overdue post, PMR has just passed and here I am posting this long awaited entry on the Form 3 novel, How I Met Myself. This novel is all about finding your own ghost or doppelganger and answers the questions of "What If" and "If Only". I've found out that this novel is an interesting piece of literature as it questions the pasts and brings back the future, and it will definitely serves as a medium of intellectual discussions among students and teachers. By the time students reach the Third Form, I realize that students need to be stimulated and encouraged to participate well in group and class discussions as some students fail to give responses due to lack of stimulating readings and low self esteem. The idea now in Malaysia, is to let students take charge of the whole learning process, encourage them to think critically  and creatively and teachers should take a back seat. Many times, teachers are deemed to be responsible on students' learning process but the reality is students should be held responsible for their own learning as well. 

       In this entry, I'm sharing with you, some useful notes on this Form Three novel.

How I Met Myself “ by David Hill.
It could touch on :
CHARACTERS -  Character  which inspires you
                            - Favourite character
PLOT – How would you change the ending of the story?
            - Significant event/ events



Sample of answer

Based on one novel above, write about a theme. Show how 
it is portrayed in the novel by giving details from the novel.

Answer ;
       Based on the novel “ How I Met Myself” by David A. Hill, the theme that can be found is " Love ”. This theme is significant in this novel as it revolves around John Taylor and his family. This can be seen from the way they take care of each other and stood by their spouses through difficult times in life. “ Love” is definitely around John Taylor’s family as Andrea supports her husband through out the journey of their life. Never once in her life, that Andrea does not believe in John Taylor and his doppelganger. She is a symbol of a loyal and loving wife, who stands by her man, no matter what is happening to him. Finally, “ love” is seen through John Taylor. He is a responsible father and husband, even if he neglects his family for a while when he is carried away in finding his doppelganger. John Taylor is a character with full of love and care, he loves his wife unconditionally. In conclusion, “ love” is widely seen in this novel through the  characters of John Taylor and Andrea, his wife. They are the symbols of eternal love in these modern days, where love is not a language easily understood.         

Love is unconditional ......

Monday, January 23, 2012

New Literature Component for Form 4 and 5

Nature at its bests
Source:  Google
Poetry captures our spirits as we see the inner beauty of our surroundings
The novel to be learnt in Form 5- Selangor
Students should be encouraged to take up reading- all sorts of reading materials are good  as long  as they broaden up our minds and made us think critically...
(Source of picture: Google)

It is heartening to be able to outline the New Literature Component for Form 4 and 5. I found it to be encouraging that some teachers and students out there have been referring to my humble blog, just to enquire on the texts to be learnt in Form 1, 2 and 3. Previously, I have written a post on the New Literature Component for the Lower Secondary level. The latest news is that there is a novel to be learnt in Form 3- I will update on the post later on....
    All right, there are several poems and short stories to be learnt in Form 4 and 5. A drama to be practised in Form 4 and there is definitely a novel to learn in the Form 5 level. Based on my experience, students refused to read the novel "Step by Wicked Step", they would only refer to the synopsis and a whole range of reference books. Teachers on the other hand, succumbed to the pressure of finishing the syllabus by June and keep giving out handouts to students - making sure that these students read the "papers" given and paste them in their Literature books. I am telling you this, these students do not really learn the hard way. They have been spoon fed by their poor teachers- thus, they end up not reading the novel at all. Therefore, what is the purpose of learning literature any way if we do not digest the words and sentences in the novel? I will touch on this issue on my next post. 

Below are the texts to be learnt in the Upper Secondary level;

Form 4

1) In The Midst of Hardship - Latiff Mohidin
 ( a translated version of the original poem in Malay)
 ~ Here, the poet presented a whole new idea of poverty and contentment, of how the poor react  with mishaps in life. I told my students that this poem probably stemmed up from the  simplicity of the life of a farmer and  his family, they probably came from the East Coast of Malaysia or the Northern states of Peninsular Malaysia. We could derive on the fact that these states are prone  to floods and there are still farmers working on their paddy fields using buffalos albeit the machines  i.e the  line found in the poem " they desperately looking   for their son's albino buffalo that  was never found".
2) He Had Such Quiet Eyes - Bibsy Soenharjo ( an Indonesian poet)
   ~ This poem is quite tricky as well. It brings about the issue of not trusting the opposite gender. It is a good poem, considering the moral and social issues of today's youths. There are lines such as " And to render him paradise" and "With pleasure-seeking guys". Apparently, the poem is an advice to the young women out there, that there are certainly men or guys who are ready to take advantages on their vulnerabilities.
Note; These poems are to be tested in the SPM 1119 English Language paper.

Short Stories
1) QWERTYUIOP - Vivien Alcock
    ~ The haunted typewriter and the deceased ex-secretary, Miss Broome are the highlights of this  short story. Lucy Beck, the unlucky new secretary is determined to beat all odds to hold on to the job at the solicitors' office- Ross and Bannisters. Anybody who uses the typewriter, will  end up having  the word QWERTYUIOP being typed up on the paper. Hence, the title of the short story.

2) The Fruit Cake Special - Frank Brennan
   ~ Anna, the chemist in this story  accidentally created a perfume with the smell of a Fruitcake. She wore the perfume and suddenly found herself being the centre of attraction as the men in this story fought over her. We learn that a love potion-- in this case " the perfume" will not last long in terms of attracting people, it is the heart that matters...

1) Gulp and Gasp - John Townsend
  ~ The melodrama about life, love and destiny. Who would have thought that Percy, the hero   was actually the lost heir of the Gatsby Gold. The drama unfolded as the key he was wearing  since birth was the actual answer to the hidden treasure. This is a good drama to be dramatized  as we have Lord Septic, the villain, Rose, the blind heroine and Crouch, the cunning and unsrupulous servant of  Lord Septic.
Notes; Drama and short stories are not to be tested in the SPM English 1119 Paper.
Form 5


1) Nature- H.D Carberry
 ~ The poem is a beautiful recollection of Carberry's appreciation of his home country, the island nation of Jamaica. It tells about the rich nature of Jamaica, being in the Carribean, despite the occasional  heavy rain storms  or desruptive weather or the non-existence of four seasons climate as found  in temperate countries.  Jamaica, on the other hand,  is definitely a beautiful country with its   own beauty . The poem  is rich in language  and style as seen from  the lines  "When the tall grass sways and shivers to the slightest  breath of air", "When  the buttercups have paved the earth   with yellow stars". These lines are  definitely imagery examples as they use  vivid, clear  descriptive language that appeal to one or    more of the senses ( sight, hearing, touch, smell   and taste). In my lessons,  I have made the fifth formers read out the poem with actions and   movements. They were a bit apprehensive at first but readily to admit that they understood the poem  better, at last.

2) Are You Still Playing Your Flute- Zurinah Hassan
   ( A translated version of the Malay poem- Masihkah Kau Bermain Seruling)
 ~ At a first glance it seemed like a romantic poem, as the poet is longing to the one who  is still playing the bamboo flute in  her village. However, the poem is not really a love poem-  it is discussing on the need to  prioritize what is important in one's life and the whole world.  The poet feels that is is unwise to   think about her love of the arts, her selfishness- where else  the Muslims at the other side of the world are fighting for their country such in Bosnia and Palestine.  I would have said that this poem is written circa 1990s (as the Bosnians were fighting for their   lives back in 1992-1995).


1)Step by Wicked Step- Anne Fine
   Set in the UK, this is actually a novel which has been shorlisted for Sheffield Children's Book   Award in 1996.  It also received the same billing for Lancashire Children's Book Award in 1996.  Therefore, there is   a need to clarify to the fifth formers that they are reading a book meant  for children. The characters in this story are children who suffer from the complexities of different family  arrangements. Each character  has his or her own step mother or father, all of them have step siblings. The missing   elements of natural,  real parents i.e fathers and mothers are quite rampant in the  six stories   of the novel. My former students used  to tell me that there were just too many stories  to remember. I told them to forget the stories, there  were actually six characters with one main theme- DIVORCE AND SEPARATION.  Richard Clayton  Harwick, may come from the past but he has one common similarity with the other five   characters- Pixie, Claudia, Colin, Ralph and Robbo - all of them come from  Broken Family set-ups. You can read more on this by going to (click ) Anne Fine's Notes.

    To conclude, the New Literature Component for Form 4 and 5 has a wide range of literary works to be covered. However, in our quest to prepare students for their SPM, I truly hope that the purposes of learning literature in the first place-  to enrich our students minds and make them think critically on life issues- are not to be reckoned with. Literature is not about giving hand-outs and synopsis to students, it is about delving and discussing issues and themes, and not forgetting to digest the richness of words and sentences found in the text.  Therefore, it is wise to say that it is IMPORTANT that students read the text i.e the novel, drama and short stories- so that they would have better understanding on the literary works. As said by Carl Sagan, "Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom. There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom. But reading is still the path".


Life's got to go

(Source: Google)

   I have been abandoning this site for ages.... now it's already 2012. I have never intended to leave this blog unattended for more than one month, but due to unforeseen circumstances- I did not manage to update it. For the past half of the the year, I had to adapt to a new environment, my set of clientele has definitely changed. I no longer had the privileges to teach an eager-to-please set of 13 to 14 year old teeangers. To tell you the truth, I missed teaching those 13 year old kids. They are full of questions, some made me laugh, some made me shudder. Many teachers seemed not to enjoy teaching those young teenagers, they said that  it was difficult to think of fun and attractive lesson plans, however,  I beg to differ on this.
    During my 12 year stint of English language teaching, I had the chance of teaching these young teens for five and half years. The experience made me creative and I was always on the look out for fresh new ideas. I was not pressured to get those  exam marks up to the par, it was fun all the way. I have enjoyed teaching those kids, and they readily embraced my teaching albeit those low-end classes. This was when I explored songs to be used in my teaching. But, as they say, nothing lasts forever- in June 2011, I was asked to teach Form 4 and 5. Imagine my horror of  having the free, creative way of teaching- and suddenly being pushed to cover the syllabus of SPM. I scrambled through all related books, looking for new ideas and facts to deliver as this time I had to cater to a new pool of clients- those hormone wrecking set of teenagers.
     Luckily, being IT savvy helped. I improvised along the way, finding information from the net, giving a lot of tips to my students as they prepared themselves for their SPM. Sometimes, my fifth formers would ask me many questions that I did not even know the answers, but I made sure that I gave the most logical answers, oblivious to the fact that I was learning as well ( For example; STEP BY WICKED STEP by ANNE FINE). Having to adapt to a new environment was one big task to me as I had to sharpen my rusty mind. The last time I was teaching fourth formers was in 2004 and MUET in 2003. But being a teacher, there will always be a YES, for  CHALLENGES in teaching. Yes, I did screw up at first but I think my students deserve credits as well- for believing in me. They did not compare me with their former teacher as they believed I deserved a chance to prove myself. Therefore, it could be said that no matter which level you are teaching, if you enjoy teaching English, that's all that matters. Now, I could say that I enjoy teaching my 13 to 17 year olds, they made me think why teaching English is truly my calling, despite some headaches or occasional misadventures...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writer's Block

I am in the midst of completing a module for the Form 1 to 3 English Literature Module. It was supposed to be submitted late last year, but I kept postponing the dateline. And now, I am having the "writer's block". I don't know what to write, I write, then I stop. It's been going for almost two months, and I am not sure when this "block" will stop. It's like going back to university's years- dissertations not being touched for a complete month. There are many things going on right now,that I am lost in focus. Maybe I need a break, or perhaps I need a holiday, phew...
Note: Writer's block? Well.. it is blocking my way....(hahaha)

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Literature Component for Form 1 to Form 3

Starting from the year 2009, the Ministry Education of Malaysia has introduced the new literature component for Form 1 up until Form 5. For this post, I would like to outline the poems, short stories and novels as decided by the ministry for the lower secondary level. In the mean time, I will touch on the upper secondary level in the next upcoming post.

Form 1


1) The River - Valerie Bloom ( meaningful poem on how nature could take over our lives)
 Students learnt words such as "hoarder", "gobled" "winder" and "vexed".

2) Mr Nobody - Anonymous ( a fun, tricky poem which touches on our inability to own up to our mistakes)

Short Story

1) Flipping Fantastic- Jane Langford
( The term "handicapped' is well-defined here = You could always be handicapped emotionally and socially, not just physically)

Graphic Novel

1) The Boscombe Valley Mystery- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ( in Selangor)
     (Mystery unfolds as Holmes tried to find the real murderer in this novel)
    (Sherlock Holmes' Novel)

Form 2


1) I Wonder- Jeannie Kirby ( a poem which makes us think on how significant the questions usually asked by small children, but easily ignored by adults )

2) Heir Conditioning - M SHANmughalingam ( a poem which shows us how bad it is the state of our environment)

Short Story

1) One Is One and All Alone - Nicholas Fisk ( human cloning issues)


1) Rumpelstiltskin - ( a fairy tale from Germany, collected by Brothers Grimm)
 ( the antagonist as the namesake, is actually a goblin)(* Selangor )

Form 3Poems

1)A Fighter's Line - Marzuki Ali ( the need of the younger generation to be brave and speak up, as voiced out by the war veteran i.e the independence fighter)
2) Leisure - William Henry Davies ( the need to take our own time and look around us, enjoying our beautiful life

Apparently, due to students' responses, I could say that the new literature component has brought us new perspectives in literature learning. The main reason of learning literature is to make students think, feel and grasp the issues of life. Apart from that, we need to train our children (students in this case)to have the empathy and sympathy towards the others, to know that life is not just around the borders of Malaysia, thus the introduction of foreign authors.
   I applaud the move of the ministry in introducing the new texts in literature component, simply because I think there is a need to explore new genres and issues. From my opinion, the old texts could be quite boring at times as some of the issues are not really suitable to 13 to 14 year old students.
    Meanwhile, all English teachers should be happy as we got to explore new texts, we learn as we teach our students. I remembered once having a tough time discussing weddings and budgets for wedding preparations as we explored the short story "Of Bunga Telur and Bally Shoes" to wide-eyed Form 1 students. Not to say that the short story is not in my favour, but I certainly think that "Of Bunga Telur..." is suitable for fifth formers, as they would have understood it better, due to what goes into a marriage, etc. As it is, we study the texts as we prepare lessons for our students. As said by Thomas Carruthers- the Edinburgh Golf Club Maker , " A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary". Happy learning, everyone ..... ;)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Why Being An English Teacher Matters

The PMR results have been announced yesterday. I totally forgot about it, until I received this SMS from my student. I have tutored her especially for PMR, and she is actually from another school. "Thank you teacher, I've got 9A's for my PMR. You have helped me a lot". I was smiling all over. This year marked my 10 years into teaching. Teaching English precisely. God knows, how happy I was receiving that SMS from her, knowing that she thanked and appreciated me. Then, I've got this message through FB, a former student reflecting his 3rd former's days of me being strict with him not finishing his English essays and now gladly understanding my motives. He's now 22 years old. Yes, teachers forgot but students remembered. Those two messages touched me in a discreet way, not knowing that in those 10 years I have actually made a difference to different individuals. Thank you too, dear students for remembering me. The best Teacher's Day presents for this year...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sentence Patterns

In learning the English language, it is important for students to write good sentences, especially in writing essays. A good essay contains various types of sentence patterns. There are three types of sentence patterns. - Simple Sentence, Compound Sentence and Complex Sentence.

Now, let's look at Simple Sentence.

1) A simple sentence contains one subject and one finite verb.

Subject means ~ The thing we are talking about.
Verb means ~ Action taking place.

For example:

1) Subject Verb
I wrote a letter

2) Subject Verb
She loves her cat

It is crucial that students are able to master simple sentence structures without making any errors or mistakes.

Below, is an exercise to test students' capability in mastering the simple sentence structures.

Sample of exercise:

Rearrange these words into complete sentences. Then, rewrite them. Remember your capital letters.

1) like/ they/ play/ football /to

2) i/ ice-cream/ love

3) she / watching/ is / television /the

4) rita / baking/ cakes/ is

5) driving/ the / timothy/ is /car

If you are able to answer this exercise, you are on the right track.

Until we meet again... adieu