Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Chase in the Market

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8th July 2012, 12:57 noon, Sunday.

                Yvonne and Cynthia are on the express boat back to Sibu.  I read a few pages on ‘How to Teach Grammar’ by Scott Thornbury, with great interest. The dream of teaching a class of thirsty-for-knowledge students floated in my mind… I’ve used the deadly approach to teach Grammar in class, which is teaching the rules in isolation and not driven from context.   We’ve graduated from taking up these subjects back in University; sadly, it seems that I had returned what I memorized back to the author. This moment, my desire to pursue Masters burns, again.
                Last night, we had a hearty laugh playing ‘Murderer-Doctor-Detective’ psychological game and ‘Heart Attack’, a proven adrenaline pumper.  Since Cynthia was with us, we communicated in English.  A colleague made an unintentional remark, “You can still speak so fast in English. Wait till 3 years later, you’ll be like me.” I was taken aback, not back her sarcasm, but the fear of dishonouring my favourite subject, which turned out to be my source of income.  Thus, despite a hectic day and having Yvonne sleeping soundly beside me, I had trouble sleeping last night.
                I felt shameful every time I realized my occasional habitual mistakes in my spoken English, namely Pronouns, Tenses and – Malaysian English! “Oh My English!”  Words like ‘can’ and ‘got’ became too frequent that it’s no longer funny when I heard myself uttering them.  “Sien ar, I GOT 6 periods tomorrow, with Peralihan some more.” Argh, yes, do laugh at me and feel pathetic! 
                I remembered being so energetic and hopeful during the interview 7 years ago.  I answered the interviewers with confidence that should I be posted to rural areas, I will learn their local language in order to teach the children English.  Sadly, 6 months passed. Apart from baby words like ‘Auk’, ‘Anang Berjako’, ‘Udah Makai’, I remember nothing! Looking back at my Rekod Pengajaran Harian (Daily Lesson Plans), it seems like I’ve taught a lot, on paper. However, I didn’t observe any improvement in my students’ grades.
                Yes, students’ lackadaisical attitude is a factor but I have to admit, I failed to perform my very best as an educator. My passion for teaching is still burning, the ideas to carry out the fun educative activities floats in my mind, but they are not carried out in action! This is a clear example of ‘All words and no actions’ situation. My lessons are so boring that if I am the student, I would rather chat with my friends or chase around in the classroom.  “Turn to page XXX”, “Take out your Composition exercise book and copy this, now. No talking!” Other teachers are also doing this, with the reason, copying is the only activity they can accomplish.  The question is, should I follow the crowd, despite knowing the economy and efficacy of such lessons are less than optimal?
                I am having a hard time gauging the attention of my Removed Class’ students.  The moment I entered their class after a strict male teacher left, their gloomy face will glow and the graveyard instantly became a Sunday Market! No joke! Imagine how challenging it is to make your voice heard in a noisy market, with fishmongers shouting out of their lungs.
                The scenario above explained the nightmare I had last night: chasing after a naughty boy with a cane in a market. –Her story continues-


  1. i feel you lucy. especially the burning desire to pursue my masters to get out of school. haha. but give it a few more years, you'd be able to figure out what you should really do to them. experience is the greatest master after all. good luck.

  2. Thanks for your advice and words of encouragement Amanda! :)