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Showing posts from June, 2014

TFM Connect_ED 2014

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There is one time in a year when I feel a little less crazy for being the way I am.
There is one time in a year when I recharge my soul & spirit without having to do anything.
There is one time in a year when I feel hopeful for the future of my country.
There is one time in a year when I feel really old because of the fresh young new faces.

Many new teachers come up to me & express a desire to do what I am doing. No, they don't mean working in the jungle with low proficiency students for half a decade. All they see is the fluff. My travelling around to attend all sorts of ministry meetings, conferences, speaking & giving talks. That is what they want.
What they do not see is the process of getting from where I was, an obscure teacher working his butt off in the middle of nowhere where nobody cares, to a still obscure teacher known & appreciated by those who care.

Doing what I'm doing is a lonely road. Believing the best in my students. Doing my best to provide…

The Jungle Teacher Responds to Nadilla Jamil's Open Letter

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This is a long blog post in response to Nadilla Jamil's article 'An open letter to secondary school English teachers' which was published by the Malaysian Insider on 13 June 2014.

In this letter, she eloquently shares her beliefs in the teaching of the English language in Malaysian secondary schools & passionately urges English teachers to follow suit. Here are some quotes:
- stop doing word-to-word translation or even mother-tongue mirroring
- speaking English in an English language classroom provides the linguistic environment that you know they are lacking
- English is fun. Bring along your games, movies. Act out. Consider role-plays. Let our potential future leaders learn the language through music.
- I passionately believe that the trouble is that education doesn't go on in the committee rooms of our legislative buildings. It happens in classrooms and schools, and the people who do it are you and them as students. And if your discretion is removed, trust me, …

Featured in Victorious - Autumn 2014

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I never imagined that I would be interesting enough to be featured in the alumni magazine, the Victorious, of my alma mater in New Zealand, Victoria University of Wellington. In this magazine, I usually read about exemplary alumni who are contributing greatly to society; i.e. researchers, scholars, business people, biologists, mathematicians, policy makers & economists.

I'm just an English teacher working in the middle of nowhere with children who do not come from rich or influential backgrounds. I'm not doing anything world or nation changing like many others who have been featured in the magazine. I'm just doing what is within my circle of influence to make a difference in a rural community like many thousands of teachers are currently doing & countless others have done.

I am not a hero. Nor am I a lone ranger doing everything myself. Every day, I work with top-notch colleagues without whom I will be unable to carry out 100% of my programmes. I also work with th…

I Took the TOEFL iBT Test

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A few weeks ago, I took the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). I took the TOEFL test because it is a prerequisite for a graduate study grant I'm applying for.
I'm not going to explain what TOEFL is. There are plenty of websites about it. I'm going to share my experience registering for the test & sitting for it so that you have some idea of what to expect should you choose to do the same.


Registration First, find out the location of the tests & the dates here. Tests are usually on Saturdays & Sundays. There are test centres in KL, PJ, Johore, Penang & Kedah. Different centres will have different dates. TIP #1: Make sure that you choose the right centre & date. This is especially important if, like me, you are travelling from far away.
You can change it later but it'll cost you US$60 to reschedule. If you cancel, you will only get a refund of half the fee (US$90).

Once you have decided on a place & date, sign up for TOEFL online at th…