we declare Your Perfection above and beyond all: we have no knowledge whatsoever except what You have taught us. No doubt it is You, and You alone that is all Knowledgeable and all Wise. (al-Baqarah, 32)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Long Road Home

The last raya holidays was probably the most time I spent on the road in a week. Apart, from just going back to my wife's hometown in Pengkalan Hulu, Perak, we also went travelling some, visited a few friends, and explore roads we've never taken before eventually making it back to our little island escape... Ok, I was just trying to make myself feel better about that last part. There's a lot to record about the journey but I'm not feeling in the mood to write so I'll just post some of the photos we took and mention some.

On the first few days of Syawal, we visited a lot of my cousins. We didn't bring our camera along so. Also got to meet up with Aishah and her husband. She was staying at her in-law's in Kuantan.

We went to Perak a couple of days later and that's when the journey really took off.

These picture were taken in Betong, Thailand. It's really close to Soya's hometown. That car you see is the car I drove throughout the journey. Not too shabby for an old car =)

Picture of some building there. I don't know what it is but it looks pretty artistic so i took a photo of it.

The streets in Betong. Not too much different from our own, but there's a very different vibe to it.

On the same day, we went further up north to Gurun to visit Soya's best friend Wani and her baby Tariq..uh, I don't know if I got the spelling right.

They're doing mighty fine. Also, Wani served us a really nice lunch. Nasi tomato and daging rebus. Thinking about it makes my mouth water. It also makes me want to eat something right now, if i wasn't fasting...

Afterwards, we stopped in KL for a few days to indulge ourselves with all the delicious food we've been deprived from during our exile from the mainland. Ah, Italian BMT, I wish I could have you again right now. Too bad we couldn't find Yoshinoya. The one in MV seems to have been closed =(

Next stop: Seremban. We went to Hilmi's sister's wedding there. I got to meet each one of the boys in Seremban except for my ol roomie. T'was fun meeting with everyone. Reminds me of t he good old days in college.

And then we back to Pekan, passing through Melaka and took a detour to Johor along the way.

We stopped at this cool-looking mosque in Jasin for prayer.

And this picture of the assembly in Segamat we took is just for proof that we indeed went through Johor.

It was a really tiring but well spent holidays. My only regret was that it had to end.

And I'm feeling real bored right now *yawn*

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So This Happened


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Q4 Shopping List

As the year comes close to a a close, the games are coming in droves! Even with me having much more buying power than I did the same time last year I couldn't possibly afford to buy everything I want within these few months. See, there's a set of games that I want to buy just so I could play with my posse at our year-end gathering (which is only for a few days) and then there's a whole different set that I personally, really, want to play. Here's what's in the list for now, but I might change it later according to my financial standings... (note: the list only consists of games releasing before 31/12/09)

  1. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
  2. Borderlands (will buy regardless)
  3. Band Hero (maybe)
  4. Guitar Hero: Metallica (depends)
  5. A brand new screen!
Personal - these are games that I will definitely get
  1. Modern Warfare 2
  2. Forza Motorsports 3
  3. Dragonage: Origins
  4. Assassins's Creed 2
  5. Alpha Protocol
  6. Brutal Legends
Actually, doesn't seem like that many things now that I listed it that way...but I still haven't calculated how much I'd need to spend for all those.

Regardless, I expect it to be a somewhat hefty sum, but not a necessarily ludicrous one either. I was also planning to get my hands on another Playstation 3 soon but it looks like that plan will have to be put on hold till next year.

[Edit] Somewhow forgot about Brutal Legends. That game wasn't very strong in my list anyways, but I am really interested in the fiction. And then there's Tekken 6, which for me is a maybe

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What I've Done

The PMR trial results from all the schools across the district have been gathered a few weeks back and I've received words of the analysis.

For the English subject, my school managed to place no 16!

16, as a number isn't bad at all. It's just a digit away from making into the top 15. It's also within the top 20 so that's still a rather good feat.

16, when put into context of there being only 17 schools in the district however, becomes decidedly less flattering.

It wasn't just the students who failed. I failed as well.

Maybe next year, I should just ditch all those story books, songs and 'English is fun' stuff altogether for a more 'do exercises til you die, you maggots!' approach. They didn't seem to work anyways.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I was on my way back from buying food for berbuka when I came across a most amusing scenario. Allow me to paint you a mental picture:

A boy, who from his size, I gather is around 7 to 8 years old was running around while holding what seemed to be a toy in his hands. A younger boy who, I believe is his younger brother was chasing the boy with the toy. Not too far away from the two boys, a lone woman sits comfortably under the shades of a tree. From the way she looked at the children, as well as some facial likenesses between them, I have made the assumption that she is, in fact, the children's mother.

While the two brothers were running around in the manner of playing tag, the elder, seemingly out of the blue shouted, "Jangan la ikut aku gampang!".

I was shocked, but the mother didn't even bat an eye!

What kind of ill-civilized society do I live in? It is no surprise that my secondary school students constantly bad-mouth each other, even in class. Maybe I should accept that such behaviour is a norm for the people here, but to say such filth to your own kin, and in front of your mother too, without being reprimanded in any way is not something should be considered acceptable, norm or not.

Teaching English - Futile

Note: I have noticed that my brain is functioning much slower lately. I have been in instances where I had to think before a word comes to my mind. So, to exercise my degenerating mental prowess, I have took it upon myself to produce an academic writing during my free time at school. The result is the following, my personal opinion of the teaching of English in rural schools, or to be more specific, the school in which I am teaching in. I wasn't too pleased with the outcome, but as a mental exercise, it serves it's purpose.


Meaning-focused input, form-focused instruction, meaning-focused output, and fluency. The four strands that I was constantly reminded during my student days as the core components of language learning. Through my experience teaching so far (which, admittedly isn't that long), I have come to notice that there are much more factors that come into play before it is even possible to reach the four strands. One tha stands out most to me is not on our part as the educator, but rather on the students and their role in language learning.

One: The first being, the students' own willingness to ingest the input given by the teacher. I have tried my best to use English in my classroom. English, which I gone through a lot of trouble to dumb down to more suit my learners; level. Yet so day, my teaching in English had resulted in futility simply because there is a mental barrier set up in the students' conundrum, almost as if there is a switch that automatically registers English words as unrecognizable gibberish.

The mental barrier condemns the students' language learning to their submission to "I don't know English". strangely enough, I get that sentence (gramatically correct, I might add), so often that proves their statement wrong. One has to wonder that the real situation isn't that they do not understand, but rather, they refuse to understand any input they receive.

Two: The next factor stems the issue that (my) students aren't at all keen in using English. Not in class, and most definitely not outside of it. Without having a consciouss choice to actually practice what they've learnt (also, considering that nothing might have been learnt in the first place!), there will not be a chance for neither meaning-focused output nor fluency practice to take place.

These two factors I propose come from a deep-rooted issue which I have come to identify - the source of why English learning seemed to be such an impossiblity. A point, that I will discuss in my third and final point.

Three: I have conducted a semi-formal interview with a number of my students in my school. The following were the three questions that I asked:

  1. Do you watch English movies/shows?

  2. Do you listen to English music?

  3. Do you like English?
My findings revealed that the vast majority openly voiced their dislike for English movies, even those with feature Malay subtitles. English music fared a little better but the bombshell was that about 90% of them plainly admitted that they do not like English at all (of note, they didn't seem to like most of the other subjects either). Interestingly, my two best students - whose 'best' is most probably comparable to 'mediocre' to the better schools out there - are those who rather enjoy watching and listening to English materials.

It's a clear fact - and I know that my colleagues are surely aware of this - that there is a very strong relation between the students' own interest in a target language and their capacity to learn the language. So perhaps, instead of wasting the effort on actual language teaching, the first step would be by winning the students over to liking the language. The killer question is 'how'. I've tried from storybooks to videos to songs and nothing worked so far. I am at the point where I start to wonder if there is any hope to teach English to (most of) my students.


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