Friday, October 2, 2009

My true story on learning English....baca ni baru bleh kenal sapa aku...

To my dear brothers and sisters who always give up in learning English...I DEDICATE this kind of story to all of you...My true story..My true experience...This story has described my journey during learning English..For me..As a TESL student who came from rural area, it is undeniable that English is very hard to understand but my advice to you..TRY...TRY to undrstand and practise this language untill u know how beautiful it is...ok...Hopefuly u will get a lot of benefits during read it..Thank you...-Kampung girl

In Malaysia, the usage of English language among citizens is still at low level. It is because Malaysians especially Malays are more dominant toward Malay language. In addition, Malay language is their mother tongue language .The application of English language can only be seen in educational institutions whereby it is used in classes and schools as one of the mediums of communication. However, its application is limited once the class comes to an end.

I had experienced this situation before in my life. As Malay who comes from rural area, I feel extremely difficult to catch up with this language. I still remember when I was young, I used to watch one of the famous English movies at that time which is entitled Casper. The story is about a group of kids who turned into ghost because of an accident. Although there was no Malay subtitle provided in this film, I understand this film in my own view. It happened because I always try to predict what is happening in those scenes, the messages that they try to deliver and their body language. I applied the same method when I watched an English film called Jumanji. In this film, the factors why I clearly understand what happened in the whole film lie in the settings and the use of animals. I keep on watching this film for many times. In the end, I realized that my understanding on this film is much clearer and better. However, I am not really exposed to English movies very much because my parents do not encourage me to watch it as they were quite worried about the content of that film. It is quite hard to find a good English movie at that time. Many of them are associated with violence and harmful scene. So, my hobby on watching English films just stopped there.

However, my experience in learning English does not end there. The real story began when I entered my school life. I had been to school since I was in six years old. Unlike normal children who are sent to kindergarten at the same age, I had been exposed with school life earlier than them. However, I still remember at that time where I was unable to write or speak in English. The sentences that my English teacher taught me and friends at that time were “Excuse me, teacher, may I go to toilet?” We had to memorize them in order to get the permission for going to toilet during English class. When I was seven, I was transferred to religious school (previously known as Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR). In this school, my interest in English turns to another language which is Arabic language. Surprisingly, I could acquire Arabic very well in this school rather than English although I knew English earlier. However, my progress in learning English was rather slow because in this school, I had lack of exposition on English. In addition, we had only a few English teachers.

However, everything changed when I went to another school known as Sekolah Kebangsaan Kayang in Perlis. In that school, I was very lucky because I was taught by an English expert known as Madam Azizah. She always encouraged me to learn English language. She also taught me and my friends to create easy sentences .As a result, we can remember them easily.

. My English is getting better and better each day. In this school, I also join the English

Language Club. All the activities in this society had improved my English skills and because I had a quite good performance in English. I was appointed to represent my school in an English Language Quiz Competition. My passion toward English Language was increased when I became the champion in the Perlis English Language Quiz Competition. Finally, during my Ujian Peperiksaan Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination, I got an A in my English paper. At that particular moment, I can say that my writing skills and my vocabulary in English are quite good but the skills that I was still not good at were grammar and speaking.

Then with the good result which is 5A’s in UPSR, I had been selected to join one of the top schools in Perlis which is Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Perempuan Kangar, Perlis. Here, because of my good vocabulary and writing skills, I always became the best student for English until I entered form three where my achievement in English decreased enormously. When I was in form three, I was fed up with my English teacher who always gave me a lot of worksheets as practice and we discussed them in a boring way. Besides, my teacher did not focus on essay and as a consequence for that, my writing skills got worse and worse.

As a form three student, I was very busy with the tight schedule because at that time, we also had to face an important examination which is Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR). In addition, I also had to attend many programs organized by school. Sometimes, because of lack of time, my friends and I copied and exchanged answers with each other. As a result, I only got B in my PMR examination. I felt very disappointed with my result as well as my mistakes in blaming the teacher instead of myself. I could say that this is the biggest mistake I ever did in my life.

However, I tried to change my attitude in learning English when I was in form four. Furthermore, other than focusing my studies in English, I also participated in many activities associated with English Language. Besides, I even joined the choral speaking competition. Thus, by keep on practicing in the choral speaking, I realized that I had improved my speaking skills especially on my pronunciation and intonation. I kept on practicing and the practice was supervised by my teachers. My friends and I always corrected each other and until the day of the competition, we kept on practicing because our goal at that time was to be a champion in the competition. Nevertheless, I still remembered that during the announcement of the result’s competition, we were so excited to hear it. However, after the judge has announced the third place, he announced the second place to one of the other schools by nominating it as a first runner up. The students of the school were very happy because they thought that they were a champion. They shouted very loudly and were very satisfied because they thought they managed to beat my school team. Perhaps, they were confused with the word “First”. However, the condition became merrier when the judge announced my school as the champion of the competition. We jumped in joy and hugged each other. That moment is one of the most memorable moments in my life.

When I was in form five, I really concentrated on my English subject because I had to face the most important examination in secondary school which is Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). At the same time, I was also appointed as a head prefect in my school. Therefore, during assembly, I used these opportunity to give speeches by using English language. However, sometimes when I tried to use the right way in speaking English, I was laughed at by other students. Some of them said that I tried to show off and those words made me feel quite upset towards Malaysians’ perception on English. Other than that, becoming a head prefect also caused me to associate with numerous problems and matters. Not all students were willing to accept the way I lead them. One day, I received a letter from my friend. It was written in English. In her letter, she said that she did not like my style on doing the spot check on them at that time. The sentences that I still could remember at that time is “If the Makmum do not like the Imam, the Solat can not be considered as Sah or passed”. After I finished read the letter, I still remember that I really wanted to reply the letter in English but in the end, I failed to do so. No suitable words and thoughts came out from my mind. Finally, I asked one of my friends to help me to translate my words from Malay to English. At that time, I realized that my English were not just getting worse yet it was the worst. I felt quite embarrassed at that time with myself. However, I still worked hard for my English until I managed to get A1 for my English result in SPM.

Then after SPM, I was selected to join the exclusive leadership camp under Tun Razak Foundation (Yayasan Tun Razak). This camp was attended by many top students around Malaysia. Many of them came from boarding school such as Sek Men Alam Syah, Kolej Islam Sultan Alam Syah, Kolej Tunku Kursiah, Maktab Rendah Sains Mara and other science schools in Malaysia. I still remember how terrible my condition at that time because I had to associate with the entire participants who really mastered and could speaking English fluently. Sometimes I tried to isolate myself from them because I afraid that they will try to ask me in English which I really could not master very well at that time. The talks and the speeches were also conducted in English and I did not understand some of the speech very well. As a consequent, I just slept while my friends enjoyed all of them very well.

After SPM, I tried to apply one of the medicine college in Cyberjaya. Finally, I was selected to attend the interview. At first, I did not know that the interview will be conducted in English. However, during the day of the interview, all the interviewers used English to communicate with me. I still remembered how difficult my condition was in order to answer every single question from them. I also felt very afraid at that time. However, I tried my best during interview and at last I was accepted.

However, I did not go to that college because my father asked me to go to Teacher College Training Centre to be a teacher. Based on my result and my choice, I was selected to join Tuanku Bainun Teacher Training Centre. It was located in Penang. Here, I was offered to do Islamic Education as well as Arabic and English Teaching courses. However, I only went there for a week because I got another offer which is at International Islamic University Malaysia. At first I refused to withdraw from this institute, but my mother persuaded me to study there. They said that I still can be a teacher if I do the degree in Bachelor of English. However, my father had his own opinion. As a lecturer in Perlis Teacher Training Centre, he said that my future will be guaranteed if I just stick in my place. However, the explanation from my father make me feel very confuse .I do not know whose intention I should follow. I still remember that my father was very happy when I got the offer from the Teacher Training Centre, and before that, he helped me a lot especially in my interview preparation. Finally, with tears in my eyes, I decide to pack up all my things in my room in that place and went to IIUM.

Actually, as a science stream student, Bachelor of English never reaches my mind. I had not been exposed with this course because my goal at that time was to become a doctor or something that is related to science field. However, after I came to IIUM, I started to accept my fate and tried to build new life here. Maybe my destiny was written by God to be an English teacher. So, when I reach Centre For Foundation Studies in Petaling Jaya, I had to do certain examinations which are English Placement Test and Arabic Placement Test. Surprisingly, I passed Arabic examination but I just got level 4 in English examination. I thought I got more than that because in the past, my grammar skill was quite good. However, in that examination, I still remember that I only can do the Grammar part very well but I failed to do the same in essay part. Therefore, I accepted my result willingly and that result had made me stay in matriculation for two years.

Being a student of IIUM student also encouraged me to learn more about English. It was a bonus to me to live in environment which uses English as one of the mediums of communication. In order to improve my speaking skill, I try to associate myself with international students. Even though I do not speak fluently like they do but I keep on trying and trying. I always dream that one day, I could speak English fluently as I speak my native language now.

When I was in CFS PJ, I was placed in 4 level class. In that class, I was taught to do a mini essay which was very interesting for me that as a result I could compose the essay very well. My lecturer at that time who is Miss Sidhu was quite strict. However, because of her strictness and her effort, my friends and I could learn the way to compose an essay in an easy and right way. Unlike the other lecturer, Miss Sidhu is very good in term of giving the feedback for my mistakes. She knows that many students are having the problems in writing essays. Therefore, she always asks us to do the draft first. After we were done with the first draft, she would put some comments on it and asked us to improvise and write a new essay. As a result, we easily detected our mistakes and tried to not repeat it back. At the end of the semester, I managed to write essays very well and finally I was eligible to go level 5 easily.

In level 5 class, I was taught to do more difficult essays. In this level, we were taught to do some comparison in essays. My lecturer at that time was Mr. Baharudin. He was very experienced in teaching English. I was a lucky student at that time because I used to be his student. He taught me on how the comparison essay should be. In his class, I can catch up very well. As a result, I passed my 5 level examinations, and managed to go to level 6.

At level 6, the tasks became more difficult. However I also managed to go through this exam. So with this qualification, I was allowed to take English Placement Test. English Placement Test or also known as EPT was the climax for CFS IIUM students. In this examination, I failed to get good marks for my grammar. Consequently, for the next semester I have to repeat this paper again. I felt quite disappointed. However, I started to do some revision on my grammar. Finally, I passed this examination.

After passed my EPT, I took subjects that are associated with my course. There are Poetry, Drama, Introduction to Linguistics, and many more. All of these are my core subjects and are quite difficult to learn. However, my favorite subject is Communication Skills. In this subject, I had been taught by my lecturer on how to give a good speech. Thus, in order to improve our skills in communication, we had been given different kinds of speech to perform in front of the class every week. I still remembered the speeches that I performed which were demonstrative, persuasive, speeches in special event and many more. However, I realized that it is not easy to attract people to hear or to pay full attention to my speech. At first, I used to memorize all my speech for my presentation. At that time, I did not really know how to give my speech spontaneously. Nevertheless, I always tried very hard to improve my weakness in speaking, day by day. Sometimes, in order to grab my friends’ attention, I mixed my speech with jokes and so far, it worked. I got a lot of positive feedback from my audience. Through this subject, my confidence in speaking in English increases greatly. I also managed to eliminate my shyness and control my nervousness in order to present the best in my class.

However, most of the subjects that I really do not like are the subjects which involved reading such as Drama, Literature and also Poetry. It is because I dislike reading in English. Since I was in secondary school, I realized that I do not have any passion in reading English literature.

I always prefer to read Malay newspaper rather than English such as Utusan Melayu, Metro,Kosmo Berita Harian and many more. Besides, I never finish reading my short story book whether in secondary school or in the university. I still remember that when I was form five, we used to read one the short story entitled “The Pearl”. It is about 210 pages. I only read half of the story because I felt bored easily. In addition, I did not understand the meaning of the stories very well. However, fortunately at that time, I had a reference book which helped me to understand the whole story clearly. The book contains a lot of pictures and symbols which make the story look simple and clear. In addition, it also describes all the characters and their characteristics in the story. So, by reading this synopsis, I manage to answer the entire question very well in my examination.

My other weakness in learning English is my listening skills. Actually, I also used songs as a tool to improve my English. However, some songs are too fast that I failed to catch up with it. Nevertheless, at first, I used to memorized the song without understand the meaning of the song very well. However, one day, I put one of the songs from the famous singer from United States known as Akon in my Friendster’s profile. The song’s title is ‘Smack That’. I really like this song because of its rhythm. However, one day, one of my best friends says that this song is dedicated to the person who wants to perform sexual intercourse with their partners. The words used in this song are also rude and inappropriate. I felt very shocked and started to do research on this song. I also try to find the lyrics from the Internet. Finally, I got the answer.

The song extremely contains lots of porn lexicon and syntax and I felt ashamed of myself. Since that incident, I started to be careful in listening and singing English songs. Actually, it is quite hard to find the English songs which contain appropriate words. Some of them are associated with violence and sexual activities. However, it is undeniable that, by listening to them, my vocabulary has also improved.

Although my parents do not encourage me to watch English movies, they encouraged me to gain my vocabulary in English by buying a set of Sahibba games. Sahibba is actually a group of games that require their players to create words in order to get marks. The longer words we make, the more marks we will get. So, in order to get new words, I always use my dictionary. So, by looking for new words, I not only gain new vocabulary but also understand the meaning and also the synonym of the words.

However, as a teacher, I will try to use variation of methods to instill my students in learning English. The First step that I will do is to recognize my students due to their background and their ability. Hence, it is easy to me to teach them if I know where their weakness is and in the same time, I can easily find the way to overcome their problems. However, as far as I know, the methods of learning are different toward students with different ability. As a result, students should be categorized in three categories; weak, average and excellent. Thus, as a teacher, I will try to focus more on the students who has been categorized as weak students. Usually, some of the weak students come from rural area which is also different than urban area due to their exposition on English. So, as a teacher, I will try to provide enough materials to my students so that, they will not be left abandoned during the learning process.

The next step that I will do to my students is I will try to create a system of tutorial in my class. The tutors will be selected based on the students who score the high marks in English. Thus, by using this system, the excellent students will be able to help their friends who are categorized as weak in a subject. As we know, students usually feel more comfortable to discus and learn with their own friends rather than their teachers. It is because, sometimes, the students feel a little bit shy to ask their teacher. Consequently, this problem will lead to misconduct of learning. Hence the use of tutors among friends is the best way to improve the weak students in learning English.

As we know, nowadays, students are easily influenced by entertainment. Besides, according to the survey done by students from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), the percentage of students who like to listen to the music is higher than the students who like to read the books. It has proven that, music or songs are played the important role to influence students. Thus, as a teacher, I will take the opportunity to use this alternative in teaching English. Perhaps, I will use songs or other music in my teaching. However, the songs that I provide will be evaluated carefully by me due to their lyrics, messages, meaning and rhythm.

This is important to ensure that my lesson is effective and contains a lot of benefits to the students. After that, I will ask my students to analyze the errors in the songs in terms of grammar and so on. At the end, my students are not also able to identify the grammar’s mistake but also can improve their vocabulary in fun way.

The other way to stimulate the students in learning English is to encourage them to watch English programs. We can start with the educational program such as Sesame Street and Barney. However, the program must be suitable according to their age. It is important to avoid students from getting bored and have lack of interest in English movies. Besides, English movies are effective to the students in learning English. English movies like Casper, Jumanji, Zathura, Charlie and the Chocolate Factories are the most suitable movies for young learners in learning English. It is because the content of the movies are suitable for all ages. In addition, all the movies contain a lot of lessons and they are easy to understand. Then, as a teacher, I also will ask my students to summarize the stories prior to their understanding. Therefore, if they give positive feedback, it means that they could understand the whole story very well. However, if the condition is vice versa, maybe I should find other movies which are easier to understand.

Finally, I will also organize the activities which will lead my students in improving their speaking skill. For example, presentation in front of the class, public speaking competition, choral speaking and so on. In addition, speaking skill is very important especially in gaining their confident in English. Besides, it is also will help the students in the future especially in seeking the jobs. As a conclusion, there are a lot of methods which can be used to help students in learning English. The best way is the easiest one and as a teacher, we should never give up easily in teaching this language.


  1. dear sis...
    sorry for interrupting here to share the ideas (because i'm very interesting with your entry) =)

    everything that we need to achieve is not always can go smoothly...furthermore it is not our mother tongue from our mother's inside~congrats for your excellence of english untill today~ =)

    let's prove that malays are also be able to compete with the outsiders for our future (since english is very important for our region development)~

    don't give up to improve english and also other language...because it's a bonus for us for the future~ ;)

  2. tenkiu sis for ur supportive comment...insya allah.i will try to improve all my weakneses in English..;-)