Quotation of the Day

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Language Tests in Malaysia

The major English Language tests in Malaysia are those taken durnig the Primary School Assessment Examination (Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah or UPSR), the Lower Secondary Assessment (Penilaian Menengah Rendah or PMR), the Malaysian Certificate of Education (Sijil Peperiksaan Malaysia or SPM) and the Malaysian Universities English Test or MUET which are generally national level standardized forms of assessment. The first three examinations are developed by the Malaysian Examination Syndicate, a body directly under the Malaysian Ministry of Education while the MUET is developed by the Malaysian Education Council, a statutory body under the same ministry. These four tests can also be considered high-stakes examinations because many important decisions that affect the students' education and later career path are made on the basis of the performance of these examinations.

It is interesting to note that there have been several shifts in the policy in recent years with respect to language tests in Malaysia. The most notable has arguably been the development and use of the Malaysian Universities English Test or MUET which was introduced in 1999. Although this test measures four skills in the English language, the greatest impact has been on the testing of speaking skills. Because it is closely linked to tertiary education and entrance into local institutions of higher learning, candidates taking the MUET are smaller in number compared to the nationwide standardized examinations that all school-going children sit for. The fewer number of candidates allows for a relatively longer and more intensive test of spoken English ability.

Another development in testing in Malaysia has been the introduction of school based tests. These tests, which emphasise the assessment of speaking ability, have many implications iin teaching and learning of the English language. The objectives of the secondary school Forms 4 and 5 school based oral exams and the SPM Oral English Test, are to assess the candidates' ability to:

1. converse on a topic,
2. speak fluently,
3. speak coherently,
4. give appropriate response,
5. speak using language appropriately within context,
6. speak using correct and acceptable pronunciation,
7. speak using correct grammar, and
8. speak using a wide range of appropriate vocabulary.

It can be anticipated that the washback effects of these tests will promote the teaching and learning of aural-oral skills in the classroom. At both the primary and secondary school levels,, the schools based oral examinations require studentsto perform oral tasks in various configurations or models. These models vary according to the task the student has to perform, the interlocutors involved,and the role of the teacher-examiner.

The two developments in English language tests in Malaysia described above are positive trends that can lead to improved teaching practice in the classroom. Several other aspects that have been introduced together with the school based exas and the MUET have also contributed to the validity of the tests. In the MUET, for example, score reporting is vastly improved over the SPM English language oral test. Candidates are provided feedback interms of how they performed in four different skills. In contrast to this, candidates of the SPM English test are only provided with a single grade although the test assesses their ability in different skills.

School based examinations also tend to be formative and hence are more beneficial to the learning process than the summative type, end of the year exams. However, when school based examinations contribute to the final grade of such high stakes examinations as in Malaysia, a great deal of professionalism among teachers is required. Because of pressure to perform, teachers may be tempted to inflate scores of their own students. Other teachers may fail to appreciate the value of school based examinations and not conduct the examinations carefully. School based examinations require additional commitment from teachers as they need to manage the examinations in their schools. Although school based examinations may pose some problems in the early stages, these problems may be resolved with time, proper training and increased familiarity.

-Essentials of Language Testing for Malaysian Teachers by Arshad Abd. Samad-

Monday, October 25, 2010

Bibliotheraphy - Text as the Key to the Soul


Rublin 1993:331 mentions that bibliotheraphy is considered "reading guidance given by teachers and librarians to help students with their personal problems.

It is defined as “the use of books to help individuals to cope better with their problems.”

In bibliotheraphy, students are encouraged to find answers in a positive, intellectual and logical ways.

Literature texts in all genres are used to help these students to understand themselves better. This understanding is essential for mental and physical health and fulfilment.

If fiction is able to reflect for the reader his complicated and sometimes shameful feelings, he feels less alone. He is, as if were, given permission to think and to feel those things that he has considered unacceptable.” (Gillies, 1988)

The selected literature texts will enable the students to see that there are many solutions to their problems. Bibliotheraphy presents facts that the students need to solve/face their problems. It creates an outlet for the students to channel their emotional and behavioural problems and come out with solutions.

It encourages the students to plan pratical course of action and carry it out. As the result they can confront their problems effectively. There are four activities related to bibliotheraphy:

1. Group discussion on the characters of the text.
2. Watching films
3. Simulation and role playing
4. Writing about experiences

1. Anxiety and anger
2. Dealing with loss
3. Experiences related to death
4. Dealing with love

Students need to be exposed to positive ways in dealing with human issues such as:
1. Tragedy
2. Happiness
3. Hate
4. Love
5. Conflicts

Literary texts can withstand the test of time and culture.

Shakespearean plays often changed to suit the society in the 15th century. However, the plays are still relevant until today for their universal values in the rise and fall of the heroes and villains. The moral, political, social issues also make the play relevant today.

Nowadays, the focus is less on the deeds of heroes and villains but rather the psychoanalytic and dialectic perspectives. Human experiences and human conditions are touched, shared and imparted from the teacher to the students and vice versa.

Literature proves the best opportunity to see and feel how the English language is used to describe and to tell the experience within culture and traditions of the people using it. Simmons and Deluzai (1991) suggest four important psychological implications that a literature teacher should consider:

1. Empathy
 correlative experience deals with background knowledge that the students have in relation to the content of the materials read. As they read, readers ask themselves how happenings in their lives can be related to what is happening in the text.

2. Verisimilitude
 young adults have different perception of reality from children and adult. The theme of self definition and initiation to adulthood are good for teenagers.

3. Suspension
 a teacher needs to take into consideration on how willing are the students to believe what is not real.

4. Symbolism
 Critical reading skills are important so that the students are aware of the possible relationship of literary symbols with the fundamental human experience. Adolescents have limited human experiences. Therefore, the texts and the teacher need adapt to this limitation.

Bibliotheraphy can be used for a variety of reasons to help children overcome problems or situations they are facing or may face. Children have many needs that should be addressed to help them develop a positive self-concept. Physiological needs are the most basic needs that must be met.

Children also must feel safe, loved, and the need to belong in a group (family, school, peer or other)

If these needs are met through the use of bibliotheraphy, the child will be able to accomplish the following:

1. Develop a more positive sense of themselves.
2. Learn about the world
3. Cope with stress
4. Provide insight into problems
5. Affirm thoughts and feelings
6. Stimulate discussions about problems,
7. Create an awareness of others that have similar problems
8. Provide solutions to problems
9. Communicate new values and attitudes
10. Find meaning in life

These are all goals that a facilitator would like to accomplish when implementating bibliotheraphy (Comett et. Al, 1980; Alex, 2006; Jackson & Nelson, 2002-04)

Select a short story, poem and a novel that can help students deal with:
1. School bully
2. Heart break
3. Nasty teacher
4. First crush

Create a simple activity for each selected text. The teaching aids must be in the form of high and low tech.

-B.Ed TESL cohort 4,UPM-IPG KTI (2010)

No longer proud.


A bible in front of me
"Essentials of Language Testing for Malaysian Teachers" on my left
Notes on "Focus on ELT Materials" on my right
"Injustice - corrupted Malaysian policemen" on my mind

Am I even 'safe' to post out my current thoughts
Will the higher authority barged in
and handcuffed me though i am innocent?

I don't understand
Why are there so many serious crimes out there unsolved
yet the policemen can find pleasure in being a sadist?

This is only one of the few incidents I read
what about the others?
How many out there are suffering and being discriminated?
Why are there no actions taken in curbing the issue?

I don't feel proud at all being a Malaysian
I even feel my profession of being a teacher is not all that noble
For these policemen had had their teachers too
Have those teachers not taught them how to be a human?

- Sad, down, disappointed, demotivated -

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finals are just two days away.
But that didn't stop me from doing the things I like:
1. helping out as instructors at SDRARY English Language Camp 2010
2. communicating with my darling 1-2 hours a day
3. sleeping and sleeping
4. finally, having a kapal-berstim with my girls~

1. SDARY - SMK Dato' Abdul Rahman Yassin, Johor Bahru

This 2 days camp gives me the golden opportunity to:
a) have a glimpse of how active 15years old are.
b) the songs they are interested in: Justin Bieber's 'Baby'
c) be amazed by how the principal presented 'English can be Fun' ppp.
d) reminisce my school days PBSM/ Chinese Club/ Prefect days
e) have a good time with my coursemates in making this camp a success

2. Communication breaks barrier.

Distance relationship is never easy, for me, and I believe, for many out there. Not to be discourage, as there are equally successes and failures in both distance and daily-cuddling relationships. Though my lecturer advised us to have more than 1 boyfriend as back up plan, I find it rather impossible, as first, the trust will no longer be there. Secondly, how can one split her life/time to satisfy both men?

3. 8 hours of beauty sleep (^_^)

This activity just makes me happier and feels more alive each time I open my eyes. Ah... Thank God for quality nap/beautiful sweet dreams (^_^)

4. Fun activities at the midst of exam-battle

1. Bowling - Gambling is prohibited in all religion, but betting a cup of Mc Flurry can make the game all more motivating and fun. Not? :P

2. Kapal Berstim - Shop, Cut, Boil, Mix, Dip, Dish out + Laughter and sharing.

That's all folks, happy revising~ All the best in your exams, coursemates. Happy holidays to those post PMR students and post-exams friends. Happy working to all nation-builders, in a way. GBU (^_^)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Grace, Faith, Hope (^_^)


You graced me with faith which produced hope,
and I am truly putting high hopes on it.
Will it happen?
Am i that lucky?
Please, let this little dream come true..
These are the excitement I have, now.

Dad told me when i was young,
never to put too high a hope,
or when it didnt come true,
i'll be truly devasted.
He don't want to see his princess hurt,
For that, I love you daddy!

I've come to learn
to submit everything to His will.
He gives,
and He can take.
But I rememebered Pastor Kenneth's preaching
He will only give the BEST for us
not the good, or second
but the BEST.

in our lives,
we have had disappointments
but when we look at the larger picture,
Things just got better,
aren't they?
It did happen to me,
It does,
and It WILL continue to be :)

May we learn to have Faith,
knowing that He is always there with us
from the little things like being selected for XXX,
to bigger things like careers and family.

-Hopeful & Counting the Grace-
Silverin Yiing (^_^)