Friday, September 15

What I Learned As A Student Senator

International Food & Trivia Night @ Teachers College, Columbia University

When I was elected as the International Student Senator, I promised to:
  • improve the way that international students are included & engaged with at TC;
  • become accepted & empowered members of our new community
  • connect international students with local students, unique experiences in NYC, & awesome food places, as well as give back to the gem right under our noses, Harlem;
  • ensure that none of us to come to TC & leave as the same person; and
  • make our time here as enriching as possible.
Additionally, as a Malaysian, I felt the calling to also share my largely unknown country's colorful culture & food. As the 2016-17 International Student Senator, I set out to support international students, & bridge internationals & their US peers, while promoting Malaysian culture at TC.

Here's what I think helped me excel as a senator!

Friday, July 14

Watch Me Write A TOEFL Independent Essay LIVE

If you're interested in getting 30/30 in TOEFL Writing, I'll show you how I did it. I'll do different questions every week LIVE!!
Note: Do take into account the time difference, especially during EST/EDT. (In Malaysia, it's either Sunday at 8.30-9.30am [EST] or 9.30-10.30am [EDT].)
I teach/tutor TOEFL in New York City &, when it comes to independent essays, some textbooks do not provide model essays. This is a major problem because I will have to come up with a model myself in order to show my students how a 5/5 TOEFL essay should look like.

Since I have to write the model essays anyway, I might as well do it live so that those who do not have access to tutors may benefit too. Furthermore, since I'm doing it live, I might as well produce something authentic, i.e., limit myself to 30 minutes & do without modern word processing comforts like spellcheck & keyboard shortcuts as per the TOEFL test.

This is how this program is going to work:

Saturday, May 20

My Graduation Gift To Malaysia

I bought some gorgeous black & white postcards of landmarks in New York City!
I'd love to send them to your students!
Earlier this week, I graduated with a Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Teachers College of Columbia University. My study program was an unforgettable experience made possible by the goodwill & love bestowed upon me by my fellow countrymen & friends abroad. I would like to pay it forward by sending a little gift to as many schools as I can in Malaysia. So, continue reading to find out how you can have a postcard sent from New York City in the USA to the students at your school!

Sunday, March 5

Running Dictation Activity | Presented at Celebration of Teaching

I shared the "Running Dictation" activity during Celebration of Teaching at Teachers College of Columbia University.
Last year, I presented a Reading Activity at Celebration of Teaching, a conference which highlights the practical side of teaching, instead of theory. Presenters are invited to share an activity which was useful to them in their classrooms. This year, I decided to share the Running Dictation activity that I first learned about back in 2007 during my undergraduate days at Victoria University of Wellington, because it is the most comprehensive activity I know and I'm very surprised that only 1 out of 5 people I've asked at Teachers College knew what it was.

Running Dictation:

Features: Fun, competitive, communicative, collaborative, task-based, employs multiple intelligences (interpersonal, verbal-linguistic, & bodily-kinesthetic) & all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, & writing).

Desired Outcomes: Students negotiate meaning, perform error correction, as well as notice the gap between what they know & are able to produce with what they have yet to learn in the example text.

Materials: Prepared text either written on poster paper or printed on A4 paper. Provide students with poster paper & markers so everyone can see their work.

Thursday, March 2

Honoring The Iban Language At Teachers College of Columbia University

I had the pleasure of sharing a meaningful & wonderfully crafted Iban poem
during the Mother Language Day celebration at Teachers College of Columbia University.

During last year's "(Un)Spoken: A Celebration of Mother Language Day", I dressed up in a red Baju Melayu while my wife rocked a Kebaya &, together, we taught the audience some phrases in the Malay language & shared several Lat comics I found in the Columbia University library. It was my duty as a citizen of my country to show the world where Malaysia was & to expose them to our national language; both of which many in attendance have never heard of prior to the event.

When I was invited to present again during this year's (Un)Spoken, I was torn between my ethnic language, Fu Zhou 福州话, & Jaku Iban, a Sarawakian language I consider as part of my identity, because it was the final semester of my MA program &, probably, my last opportunity to honor a language at an ivy league institution.

I thought of my students back at SMK Katibas, where I taught for more than 6 years prior to my enrollment at Teachers College. At my beloved jungle school, all of the students spoke the Iban language &, over the years, I acquired the language in order to assimilate with the local community, but, if I was being honest, I really loved how effective it was to tell my students off in Jaku Iban. I remembered the countless efforts that we, the teachers at the school, put into our academic year in order to bridge the gap in educational outcomes for our students.

I soon realized that my last opportunity to present should be dedicated to encouraging the young people I worked with & complementing the work of my colleagues. Above all, I wanted to see a child from the rural Iban community I worked with take the stage & share their unique language & beautiful culture with the world. God knows, one of the biggest challenges I faced was finding role models for my students. The buck has to stop here. We need young people in our rural communities to step up & lead.

Saturday, January 21

A Response to Royce Tan's "Maglish getting more mangled"

This is a response to "Manglish getting more mangled" by Royce Tan published in The Star on 21 January 2017.
"Manglish getting more mangled" is one of those clickbait articles that makes my blood boil because it does not propose any kind of solution nor inspire any kind of action. Basically, it's a shame piece. Just the read the Facebook comments on this piece. You love that thick decadent slice of schadenfreude, don't you?

How about a nice slap of reality? Articles like these exacerbate & legitimize our society's shaming of people with less than purrfect English. Honestly, Malaysians, if you really want English in Malaysia to improve, THIS KIND OF SHAMING HAS GOT TO STOP!

If you're wondering what I'm ranting on about, here's an excerpt from the article.
“Before you cross the strict, use your ase”.
Understand that? Not likely, because even Manglish is getting mangled in Malaysia.
In case you’re wondering what the sentence means, it was a student wanting to say: “Before you cross the street, use your eyes.”
There are other examples.
“The school are so many teacher and friend. I can read the book in this school.”
“We in deed very conscent of student safety...” and “It is beyond our limit as it held at outside of campus”.
The last two were excerpts from a press release from the student representative council of a local university.
If local universities are that bad, one can figure that sentences churned out by secondary school students have left volunteer teachers horrified.

What do you think will happen when students read this article & see sentences that very much resemble those of their own being publicly ridiculed in a national newspaper? Worse still, what if they come across it on Facebook & read the comments?

I didn't really bother me much when we (Yes, WE need to take collective responsibility for our society's insatiable desire for blood.) English-shamed our deputy prime minister & our award-winning footballer. While the haters were hating, the minister & the footballer were laughing all the way to the bank. But, when you start targeting our students for shame, you're looking for trouble. It really manifests the keyboard warrior in me. Now, watch me dissect & critique this article.

Sunday, January 1

My Birthday Wish: Give RM31 (USD7) To Aid A Burnt-Down School In My Hometown

I'm a firm believer in walking my talk. I've done it. Now, it's your turn.
Please, as a birthday gift to me, give RM31 to aid a school in my hometown which burnt down recently.
Since my 30th birthday, I've asked everyone I know to contribute to a cause I believe in, instead of giving me birthday presents. As they spam my Facebook wall with birthday wishes, I send them my humble requests.

Last year, I asked for RM30 for Teach For Malaysia.
This year, I'm 31. So, I'm asking you to give RM31 (USD7) to aid a burnt-down school, SMK St Teresa, in my hometown, Kuching.

What is RM31 (USD7) to you? That's one trip to a fancy cafe, like Starbucks. School reopens tomorrow. Go without Starbucks for a week & give the children going to this public school something to smile about. RM31 for SMK St Teresa. Your kind contributions are much appreciated!

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