Monday, September 24

How To Avoid AirAsia's Payment Processing Fees

You'll need to wait for your BigPay card to arrive before you can use the account.
If you're interested, here's a referral code for both you & me to get RM10: UDCH2X8A8G

Being the frugal teacher I am, I don't really care about which airline I use. I just want the cheapest one. 9 times out of 10, AirAsia has the cheapest fares. Despite getting the cheapest fare with AirAsia, it still pains me to fork out an additional RM4.24 for the "Processing Fee" just because I opted to pay with Online Banking or a Credit/Debit Card. Over time, the RM4.25 can add up to quite a bit. If you travel once a month, that's RM4.25 x 2 flights x 12 months = RM102 / year. It's a tax on the lazy. I've been paying this lazy tax for the past 5 years, so Tony's pocketed at least RM510 of my hard earned cash that I could have put towards a lean mean espresso machine. Since I would be booking flights for both myself & my family members, I decided that enough was enough.

Thus, I looked into BigPay, which is basically AirAsia's prepaid credit card service.
  1. Knowing that I'd get RM10, I sought out a random referral code on Facebook. If you're signing up too, pretty please use my referral code, UDCH2X8A8G, so we can both get RM10.
  2. I downloaded the BigPay app to my phone & signed up via the app. Note that to verify my IC, I had to upload a photograph of my IC & a selfie.
  3. I waited around 7 working days for the BigPay Mastercard to arrive at my address in Kuching.
  4. Activated the card on my BigPay app.
  5. I booked a return flight today & it worked! No processing fee!

Tuesday, September 18

Appearance In Rise: Ini Kalilah

Rise: Ini Kalilah ending credits. Do you see it?

Tomorrow could be your last chance to see my doublechin on the big screen. Check showtimes here.

Until three weeks ago, I never would have expected to be featured on the big screen. Honestly, I didn't know until Cikgu Dilla tagged me on Facebook. On Malaysia Day, I saw the movie for myself &, although it started out very slowly & was a little thin on character development, I appreciated how it depicted the experiences of many Malaysians globally & abroad. It reminded me of what I personally went through to get my postal vote home to Kuching. There were plenty of moments during the movie when I had to suck the tears back into my eyes & hold my breath to keep from making loud sobs. My waterworks went on overdrive during the father & child scene at the end. Did you have a waterworks moment too? When was yours?

Friday, September 14

Speaker at "What's Next For Sarawak" by UKEC

Many commented on my hair color. My answer is I'm in Super Saiyan mode.
Last Saturday, I was an invited speaker at "What's Next For Sarawak" by United Kingdom & Eire Council of Malaysians Students (UKEC) at the Chemsain Building in Kuching, Sarawak. During my speech titled "Turning Lemons Into Lemonade", I spoke about turning the challenges that life hurls at you into opportunities to shine & contribute to the betterment of Sarawak, with sprinkles of anecdotes from my experiences as an educator in rural Sarawak & New York City.

Additionally, I had the pleasure of learning from & sharing the stage with these distinguished Sarawakians:
  • Dato' Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof, Senior Vice President of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, who delivered the keynote address about the future of Sarawak's economy in accordance with the digital economy & industry 4.0.
  • Sridharan Nair, Managing Partner of PwC Malaysia, who delivered a plenary keynote about global megatrends & how it relates to Sarawak.
  • Ariff Azahari from Positive Impressions, a HR & public speaking consultancy, who spoke about disconnecting to get connected & provided very useful tips for succeeding socially in a professional setting.
  • Dr Esther Michael of Help Somebody & Borneo Medispa who shared about ikigai (where passion, mission, profession, & vocation intersect) & her journey from a medical doctor to a beautician to a national icon.
  • YB Dr Kelvin Yii, MP for Bandar Kuching, who spoke about the importance of having young people participate in politics & having good people in the civil service, while sharing his passion & experience as a young MP in parliament.

Sunday, September 2

Plenary At SELES 2018 (Sarawak English Language Educators Symposium)

Giving attendees "the eye".

After 2 sleepless nights doing 3 overhauls of my slides & loads of prickly constructive feedback from my better half, I was able to deliver a decent plenary at the Sarawak English Language Educators Symposium, or #SELES2018. This symposium was funded & run by the Ministry of Education, Science, & Technology Research (MESTR) Sarawak in collaboration with JPN Sarawak.

I have to salute the team at MESTR & especially Hazelynn Rimbar for their tireless efforts. From what I've observed at the symposium, they've really made a difference in the lives of the teachers in attendance. Honestly, you can't expect teachers to make a difference in the lives of their students if those above them do not do the same & invest significantly in their professional development (PD) & well-being.

Realizing that there's a lot of creativity already taking place in Sarawak, but no platform for sharing/discovering it, I started an FB Group called Sarawak English Educators. Sorry folks in Semenanjung & Sabah, it's only for national school English language teachers in Sarawak. God willing, it'll be a place where talents are discovered, ideas are shared, teachers find mentors, & collaboration takes place!
Sarawak English Educators
Facebook Group · 330 members
Join Group
===Welcome to Sarawak English Educators=== Created for teachers of national primary & secondary schools in Sarawak to #ASK questions, #SHARE expertise...

Tuesday, August 14

Chart of Prepaid & Postpaid Plans In Malaysia (2018)


Ever wondered which telco in Malaysia provides you the best bang for your buck?

Naturally, when I returned to Malaysia, I needed to get a mobile plan that provided the best value for my needs. I want to be as prudent with my money as possible. If I'm not careful, mobile plans could burn a painful hole in my pocket.

I remember a time many years ago when mobile plans were simple & direct comparisons were very easy. No longer. Every telco has got its own way of packaging their services & they also use unique terminologies that can cause confusion. It's very much like trying to compare apples with oranges. Very frustrating.

Therefore, I decided to embark on the painful task of breaking down the bullsheet & make a spreadsheet. The easy comparisons that I was able to make with the spreadsheet has helped me make an informed decision on the best telco plan for my long-term needs & I hope that it'll help you do the same too!

With that extra money you saved, you could channel it to your PTPTN debts & take a nice chunk out of the 39 billion owed. Just sayin'! Share it if it's useful!

Telco Plans In Malaysia

*The contents of this chart are current as of 11 August 2018. Let me know if you'd like to update it! I can give you editing permission & credit too!

Thursday, August 9

Times Square | Walk With Me In NYC | SK Minden Height, Penang


Take a walk with me in Times Square, New York City!

Dedicated to the students of SK Minden Height in Penang, who voted for the landmark, here's the final video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour of Times Square & share with you its roller-coaster history! I'll talk about avoiding costumed panhandlers, how Times Square got its name, One Times Square, New Year's Eve Ball Drop, jumbotrons, the Kissing Sailor, NYPD, & Disney Store.
You'll also see Bryant Park, Times Square subway station, giant billboards, H&M, yellow cab, Big Bus Tours, Theater District, Forever 21, Statues of George M. Cohan & Father Duffy, McD, & TKTS Grandstand.

This video was produced in collaboration with Cikgu Ashikin Zainull of SK Minden Height, Penang.

Monday, July 30

Buat Apa Di USA? Bercuti Dibayar Ka?

Bermesyuarat dengan bekas presiden-presiden USA di Mount Rushmore.

Hari ini adalah hari terakhir saya di USA & saya teringat waktu Fulbright interview dulu. Director MACEE bertanya, "kamu ni pergi bercuti dibayar (paid vacation) ka?" Soalan itu teramatnya bercili & tajam. Waktu itu saya terkejut & kekangan untuk menjawab soalan itu sebab saya sendiri pun ragu-ragu: Adakah saya ini mampu untuk mengharumkan nama negara & menyumbang kepada keberhasilan sistem pendidikan negaraku? Perlu ke saya pergi jauh-jauh sampai USA & belanja duit yang begitu banyak?

Wednesday, July 25

DUMBO | Walk With Me In NYC | SMK Batu Lintang, Sarawak


Take a walk with me in DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass), New York City!
Dedicated to the students of SMK Batu Lintang in Sarawak, who voted for the landmark, here's another video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour & show you various landmarks in DUMBO: the Most Instagramed Spot, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pebble Beach, Empire Stores, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Bargemusic, Statue of Liberty, Free Kayaking, Roller Rink, & Harbor View Lawn. You will also see Manhattan Bridge, East River, Manhattan, Brooklyn Bridge, Jane's Carousel, & New York Water Taxi.

This video was produced in collaboration with  Cikgu Ho Jia Yiing of SMK Batu Lintang, Kuching.

Sunday, July 22

The Best Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in Their Homework


Photo Credit: Unsplash

Any parent will tell you that they want the world for their child. In a highly competitive world, education is among the most important tools for anyone to succeed. How you approach your child’s homework and how you teach them to approach it can make all the difference. While you want to help them when necessary, it’s critical to allow them to work through challenges. Here are some painless ways to help your child with their homework without overstepping any boundaries.


Set up a routine

The first step to supporting your child’s educational success is helping them establish a homework routine. Your child may work better as soon as they get home from school or after an hour of down time. They may get more done before dinner or after playtime at the park. If your child has ADHD or other problems focusing, you may need to be even more diligent in creating structure. Everyone is different, so figure out a time of day with your child and stick to it. The important thing is not when they do their work but that they do their work. Designating a time and place shows them that schoolwork is a priority, and it instills discipline and structure that will help them later in life.


Create an environment to thrive

Along with a set time, it’s important to have a place for them to work. Depending on your child’s age and personality, this location will vary. Some kids work best with a parent nearby to help with any problems. This could mean working in the living room or at the kitchen counter while dinner is being prepared. Some will need to retreat to their room for solitude. Again, it doesn’t matter as much where they work, it just needs to be an environment where they can focus and thrive. Generally speaking, it’s good for the place to be well-lit, comfortable, stocked with school supplies, and free from distractions including TV, video games or phone calls.


Support them when they struggle

One of the most challenging parts of supporting your child’s educational success is helping them navigate through issues without doing the work for them. Providing all the answers or completing assignments will not help the child in the long run; it will only hinder the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Instead, help them by interpreting assignment instructions and guiding them to find their own answers. You can also review their completed work and advise them on other ways to approach similar assignments in the future. Moreover, always stay in contact with your child’s teachers and know what questions to ask if there are recurring problems with your child’s performance.


Reward them when homework is complete

It’s also important to reward your child when they have completed their assignments. This step shouldn’t be overlooked because it reminds them that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The primary goal of rewarding is to encourage your child to form positive behavioral traits that will last a lifetime. For instance, giving them ice cream after they clean their room will not always be necessary. Hopefully, ice cream won’t be needed when they get older; they’ll just have become someone who likes to have a clean room. Likewise, rewarding your child for completing their homework is a way to instill the value of hard work and seeing challenging tasks through.

There are a number of rewarding outdoor activities that can be done with the entire family. Bird watching, camping, treasure hunts, rock identification and fossil-finding are all activities that combine an opportunity for learning with fresh air and sunshine. Find a variety of things to do in your backyard or at the local park and mix it up to keep your rewards fun and educational for your child.


Every child is unique, and parents will need to help with homework in their own way. The goal is for the child to learn as much as possible and to form the discipline and structure needed to succeed in the world.
___________________________________________________________________________

Emily Graham
Emily Graham is the creator of mightymoms.net. She believes being a mom is one of the hardest jobs around and wanted to create a support system for moms from all walks of life. On her site, she offers a wide range of info tailored for busy moms -- from how to reduce stress to creative ways to spend time together as a family.

Wednesday, July 18

Brooklyn Bridge | Walk With Me In NYC | SK Convent (M) Kajang, Selangor


Take a walk with me on Brooklyn Bridge, New York City!

Dedicated to the students of SK Convent (M) Kajang in Selangor, who voted for the landmark, here's another video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour of Brooklyn Bridge & share with you the story of the most recognized landmarks in the world. You will also see City Hall Park, Manhattan, Brooklyn, DUMBO, East River, & Manhattan Bridge.

This video was produced in collaboration with Cikgu Nurhazirah Azhar of SK Convent (M) Kajang, Selangor.

Friday, July 13

Liberty Island | Walk With Me In NYC | SMK Beaufort 3, Sabah


Take a walk with me on Liberty Island, New York City!

Dedicated to the students of SMK Beaufort 3 in Sabah, who voted for the landmark, here's another video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour of Liberty Island & share with you the most recognized landmark in the world, the Statue of Liberty. You will also see Manhattan & New York Harbor.

This video was produced in collaboration with Cikgu Marinette Baltazar-Shamsudin of SMK Beaufort 3, Sabah.

Wednesday, July 4

Mid Central Park | Walk With Me In NYC | SMK Bandar Baru Uda, Johor


Take a walk with me in Mid Central Park, New York City!
Dedicated to the students of SMK Bandar Baru Uda in Johor, who voted for the landmark, here's another video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour & show you various landmarks in Mid Central Park: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park Reservoir, Great Lawn, Turtle Pond, & Belvedere Castle.

This video was produced in collaboration with Cikgu Nor Fadzleen of SMK Bandar Baru UDA, Johor.

Monday, July 2

The Stole: Leaving A Legacy At Columbia University


This is a story of a stole. More specifically, the stole (in the colors of Malaysia) which I wore for my graduation ceremony at Columbia University in 2017. Out of the 12k+ graduating in 2017, I know of only 4 Malaysians. That's around only 0.003%! We are very few & far between! I am very proud of my national heritage, as my educational attainment at this ivy league institution has a lot to do with the preparation provided to me by the public school & higher education systems in Malaysia. Also, my multicultural & multilingual country has had a lot to do with my ability to assimilate & thrive in this foreign culture.

Therefore, at my graduation, I wanted my country to be represented, seen, & recognized at one of the top universities of the world. I wore my love for Malaysia on my shoulders that day & walked with my head held high, a person from a developing nation standing shoulder to shoulder with those from developed nations, as equals.

After graduation, I was going to bring my graduation robe home, so I could use it as a prop to motivate my future students. However, the Malaysian stole deserved so much more. It was made with quality materials & crafted with skill. The colors were deep, beautiful, & worthy of representing Malaysia at the highest international level! Also, I paid a good sum for it after expending so much effort in an extensive search. It should not be kept in a dark closet for the rest of its life. It should be allowed to shine again & again & again.

Sunday, July 1

Farewell Celebration With High Beginner | AMPHS


Celebrated the end of the academic year with my High Beginner ESOL class from AMPHS with lots of cultural food & reflecting on what they've learned during the semester. I also made sure that they planned what they would do during the summer to retain & build on all that they've learned. Otherwise, they'd forget everything during the 3 month break! ๐Ÿ˜ 

We had plenty of sweet memories together. ๐Ÿ˜ We trained for a Choral Speaking performance (here's the video), & had field trips to the Statue of Liberty ๐Ÿ—ฝ, the Museum of the City of New York, & Sunset Park Brooklyn Library ๐Ÿ“š. The class also had weekly Duolingo assignments, read 2 books/month, & made vocabulary cards every week ๐Ÿ“‡.

Thank you, students, for staying with this strict teacher throughout the semester! I really enjoyed our time together! Keep practicing your English! Do visit me in Malaysia!

Friday, June 29

I Brought Choral Speaking To NYC


Can you believe that I actually brought Choral Speaking to NYC?

When you search on Youtube, it seems that choral speaking is extremely popular in Malaysia, but practiced nowhere else, as I couldn't find many videos from other countries. So, come NYC, you might be world-famous city, but there's always something you can learn from good ol' Malaysia. Let this cikgu show you what you've been missing out on.

On their Graduation Day, my High Beginner ESOL class at AMPHS performed a choral speaking piece I wrote, "Our English Class". I wanted the guests (& especially funders $$$$) to hear from the students' mouths what actually goes on in their class & why they are taking the class. Check out the video, listen to the piece & you'll find out too.

Thursday, June 28

South Central Park | Walk With Me In NYC | SMK Katibas, Sarawak


Take a walk with me in South Central Park, New York City!
Dedicated to the students of SMK Katibas in Sarawak, who voted for the landmark, here's the first video in the Walk With Me In NYC series!

In this video, I take you on a walking tour & show you various landmarks in South Central Park: Columbus Circle, Trump International Hotel, Central Park Carousel, Sheep Meadow, The Mall, Literary Walk, Naumberg Bandshell, Bethesda Terrace, Bethesda Fountain & Bethesda Arcade.

This video was produced in collaboration with Cikgu Noor Raihan of SMK Katibas, Sarawak.

Wednesday, June 27

Farewell Celebration With Civics & ESOL AM1 | LaGuardia Community College


Celebrating the end of the academic year with my ESOL class from the Center for Immigrant Education & Training at LaGuardia Community College, some of whom have been with me for 2 or more semesters! They prepared a beautiful picture slideshow movie ๐ŸŽฅ of our memories together ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ & we celebrated with food from our respective cultures. I brought Beef Rendang (spiced meat dish), from Taste Good in Elmhurst, which was an instant hit! I also discovered a love for Empanada Colombiana (Colombian meat puffs).

It's so sad to part with them. They were an active, funny & inquisitive group to teach. We had so many memories together. We went to the Tenement Museum, the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, Federal Hall, & 3 different Queens Libraries on field trips. They improved so during the semester. I remember some of them having difficulty reading simple texts, but they were so dedicated & hardworking.

My dear students, I've learned so much about your home cultures & countries. I really admire your willingness to learn & accept me as your teacher. I know that I am very strict & demanding, but I hope that you gained something from me. I wish all of you success in the USA! Keep practicing your English during the summer! I'll miss you & do come visit me in Malaysia for more beef rendang! ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ๐Ÿคฃ

Thursday, June 21

Farewell Celebration with CALP PM1 Class | LaGuardia Community College


Celebrating the end of the academic year with my ESOL students at the Center of Immigrant Education & Training, LaGuardia Community College! Have a great summer, everyone! ๐ŸŒž๐Ÿ–️๐Ÿ•ถ️

It's really sad to say goodbye as many of them have been with me all year & we shared many moments together. Besides our regular classes, we visited The High Line, 911 Memorial & Museum, & 3 Queens libraries on field trips.

I've seen them improve tremendously from not being able to speak English or pronounce properly to being able to make simple conversation & read fluently.

Thank you, my beautiful students for being willing to learn from me & teaching me about your culture & delicious food! God bless all of you! Come visit me in Malaysia!

Thursday, May 31

Featured In US Embassy Alumni Highlight - April/May 2018


I am very surprised to be featured in the April/May 2018 US Embassy Alumni Highlight & I'm humbled by this honor. Thanks so much, Alumni Affairs Team, for helping to spread the word about the "Walk With Me In NYC" initiative!

I'm happy to announce that 5 states & 6 schools are participating in "Walk With Me In NYC"!
1. Penang = Times Square | Cikgu Ashikin Zainull, SK Minden Height
2. Johor = Mid Central Park | Cikgu Nor Fadzleen, SMK Bandar Baru UDA
3. Sabah = Liberty Island | Cikgu Marinette Baltazar-Shamsudin, SMK Beaufort 3
4. Sarawak = DUMBO, Brooklyn | Cikgu Ho Jia Yiing, SMK Batu Lintang
5. Selangor = Brooklyn Bridge | Cikgu Nurhazirah Azhar - SK Convent (M) Kajang
6. Sarawak = South Central Park | Cikgu Noor Raihan, SMK Katibas
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Useful info:

Thinking about pursuing your Master's Degree or PhD? The Fulbright Malaysian Graduate Study and Research Program is now open. Click HERE to find out more. Deadline: August 10, 2018.

The Alumni Newsletter relies on alumni participation to update the network on what's been happening with you. If you would like to contribute stories about your exchange experience in the U.S. or any news about your recent projects, publications, travels or achievements, please contact klpaexchanges @ state . gov

Thursday, May 24

How To Get A Malaysian International Driving License WHEN ABROAD


This was how I (1) got an International Driving Permit (Permit Memandu Antarabangsa/IDP), and (2) renewed my Competent Driving License (Lesen Memandu Kompeten/CDL), from NYC. No, you don't need to return to Malaysia. Yes, you can do the same from anywhere in the world! All you skeptics out there can can call JPJ to confirm, the proper term to use is "memohon permit memandu antarabangsa DENGAN WAKIL".

Sunday, May 20

Role Play + Peer Feedback | Low Prep ESL Activity


How do you provide your ss with authentic language practice? One of the ways, I add relevance & authenticity to my lessons is with role play. Also, it a great activity for the end of the day when your ss are tired of sitting all day listening to lectures. How do you make sure that ss are paying attention when their peers are presenting? One of the best ways is to get spectators to provide peer feedback. Here's how I implement this engaging Low Prep ESL activity in my classes.

Skills Engaged: Listening, Speaking, Cooperative Learning
Materials: Sticky notes
Time: 35-60 min (depending on class size)

Monday, May 14

Fluency Lines | Low Prep ESL Activity


How many times have you asked your ss questions, & instead of an invigorating & thoughtful discussion like the one you imagined in your head, you get crickets chirping? Perhaps there is this one student that dominates & answers all your questions all the time?

Ss want to talk but sometimes they might not feel comfortable or they might require extended wait time. This engaging Low Prep ESL activity is one way to provide everyone with an equal speaking opportunity, hold them personally accountable & also allow them to learn from their peers

This activity also lifts up the mood of a class, so if you feel that the energy level in your #ESL class has slumped, you can pull this activity out of your hat! You can also use this at the end of your lesson to give students the opportunity to go over the day's content.

Skills Engaged: Listening, Speaking, Cooperative Learning
Materials: Space (if you have a big class, your students can form a snaky-line or find an alternative space large enough to accommodate them)
Time: 10-15 min

Wednesday, May 9

If My Postal Vote Could Tell Its Story


Oh, if my ballot paper could tell the story of it's travels & the hope it carried on its shoulders.

I'm crying in the subway now while typing this. Couldn't read the news until I finished teaching a morning class. I'm rushing home now to witness this historic moment on the news! I'm sobbing uncontrollably now & New Yorkers are probably thinking I got my heart broken. Oh, on the contrary, these are tears of joy. Hear me cry out from decades of pent up frustration & tampered hope. All the injustices I've witnessed. Totally didn't expect this. Not even close. We are at the cusp of a Malaysian spring. Looking at all the effort put in by Malaysians all around the world. How can I not be moved?

Monday, May 7

Why I'm Not Sending Back My Postal Vote


REGARDLESS OF TOMORROW'S ELECTION RESULTS, I AM SOOOOO FREAKING PROUD OF YOU, MALAYSIANS!!!
It's amazing how Malaysians rise up to the challenge. I managed to find a Malaysian to bring my ballot from JFK to KLIA. Another Malaysian to bring my ballot from KLIA to KCH. And, another to deliver my ballot from the airport to the RO. Amazing!
We've done all we can from abroad.

Now it's up to you, Malaysia! GO OUT & VOTE!!!

Malaysians all over Malaysia, we still need more volunteers to hand-deliver postal votes. Postal votes will continue to arrive from overseas until late May 9th. No matter where you are, we need you! Let's fight until the very end!

Volunteer here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/GE14PostalVote
Tomorrow morning, go early & complete the voting process. Then, I urge you to volunteer to carry postal votes & deliver them to their respective ROs.

If your vote cannot make it back to Malaysia, MAKE SURE NO ONE VOTES FOR YOU by emailing your PACA here to make sure that your name is not on the regular voting list: https://invokemalaysia.org/pc/

For Malaysians living abroad, there might be a fellow Malaysian who can personally bring your envelopes back to Malaysia: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2049351842053459/permalink/2052950415026935/
It's completely legal to have your votes delivered by hand: https://www.facebook.com/ongkianming/posts/1698073126914407
You will have to take some extra steps: https://www.facebook.com/BersihAustralia/photos/a.880742831995030.1073741826.307902042612448/1670725519663420/?type=3

Thursday, May 3

Dear Malaysia, Walk With Me In NYC


New York City is such an inspiring place. Countless movies have been made here. Famous celebrities like Godzilla have been here. It's so amazing that jealous alien races, like the Chitauri, want to destroy it. I've learned & grown so much as a human being immersed in its culture & living amongst its people. I want to share those benefits with all students in Malaysia & inspire them to be global citizens, as well as motivate them to constantly improve their English language proficiency. So come, Malaysia, walk with me in NYC.

Being able to live in NYC has been a tremendous privilege & throughout my time here, I have been looking for engaging & meaningful ways to leverage my position for the benefit of my colleagues & students in Malaysia. Some of my more notable initiatives include a US-Msia Video Exchange Project, sending postcards to 160+ schools in Malaysia, video conferencing with a school in Sarawak, & making a video for a special ed. secondary school in Johor. After significantly investing on video equipment & know-how, I thought to myself... why not do a video for the rest of Malaysia?

Honestly, I've had this idea for a while. I've been holding back because of nightmares of people trolling me because I'm not young, I've gained weight, & I'm just a teacher. But, I've only got 2 more months left. Why not put the idea out there & see if Malaysians are interested? What have I got to lose? Like a famous philosopher once said... Just do it. So come, Malaysia, walk with me in NYC!

Wednesday, May 2

Walking In NYC With SMPKV Indahpura


Recently, I took the students of a Malaysian secondary school on a video walk at Gantry Plaza State Park, one of my favorite parks in the city (mainly due to its inspiring view of the Manhattan city skyline). I posted the video on YouTube (for the teachers to show to their students on a big screen, as YouTube accepts more than double the video resolution of...) & Facebook (where a majority of my audience resides).

To think that it started 2 months ago with a simple Facebook message from Cikgu Zaidah, a PK at SM Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Indahpura. At first, I was very intrigued as I had never seen a school with that acronym before. I looked up the school on their website & found out that it's a secondary school providing vocational skills training to students with disabilities (deaf/blind/mute). Besides BM, BI, Math, & P. Islam/Moral, students are trained in either housekeeping, reflexology, culinary arts, cosmetology, & desktop publishing.

I found myself immediately thinking about the school also offering courses in computer engineering like what Kenzie Academy, which is co-founded & run by a Malaysian, is doing for the Rust Belt States in the USA. These students may have disabilities, but their mental faculties are just as sound as those without.

Monday, April 30

Vocabulary Storm - No Prep ESL Activity


Are your ss competitive? Want an engaging activity that wakes your ss up while assessing their prior knowledge at the same time? Try this No Prep ESL activity.

Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Cooperative Learning, Spelling
Materials: Whiteboard, & markers
Time: 10-20 min

Sunday, April 29

Calling SMK BL With Love From NYC


When I was in secondary school, we were still using payphones & dail-up internet. Technology has made giant leaps since then. Seeing all these students, it felt like I was speaking to a younger me. You see, I was once a student at SMK Batu Lintang in Kuching, Sarawak, too. Therefore, I have so much hope in my heart for these young people & I totally expect them to surpass me in every single way. My dream is that at least one of them will pay it forward & continue to inspire future generations of BL-ians.

After getting her students to write responses to a postcard from NYC, their teacher, Ms Ho, capitalized on her student's interest with a video call. She overcame the headache of setting up AV technology in her typical low-tech Malaysian classroom so her students got to practice their English in an authentic conversation & experience the potentials of 21st century tools in the classroom. Respect. Her students asked several thoughtful & challenging questions that blew me away. I'll share a few of them as it'll really get you thinking.

Monday, April 23

Group Flyswatter - No Prep ESL Activity


Want a great lesson starter? Perhaps you're looking for a pick me up in the middle of a tough lesson? What do you do to wake your students up after a long day at school? Why not practice previously taught vocabulary at the same time?

We all know that repeated & varied vocabulary practice improves retention. However, the drills necessary for this to happen might be too tedious to carry out in some classrooms, esp if your students are not as committed or your class periods are scheduled at the end of the school day. Here is an engaging No Prep ESL activity that works for both young & old. You'll allow your ESL students a chance to stretch those bones without compromising valuable instructional time.


Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Spelling
Materials: Flyswatters (if available; otherwise, brooms, sticks, canes, slippers, shoes, etc make for interesting alternatives), dry-erase markers, & whiteboard
Time: 15-30 min

Monday, April 16

Chain Story - No Prep ESL Activity


Want your grammar lessons to be a little livelier? Want students to move a little bit in your class & have a little laugh after a long day? Want them to cooperate & perform peer-correction? Perhaps you should consider this engaging No Prep ESL Activity!

This is an activity that can be easily adapted for higher or lower proficiency levels! It's perfect for assessing grammar: tenses, conditionals, SVA, conjunctions, prepositions, etc.

Skills Engaged: Grammar, Writing, Cooperative Learning, Spelling
Materials: Dry-erase markers, & whiteboard
Time: 15-30 min

Sunday, April 8

Why Every Malaysian Should Send Postcards Home When Graduating Abroad

If you are a Malaysian studying abroad, I implore you to send postcards home when you graduate. Here's why...

Being able to study abroad is a luxury & a privilege enjoyed by roughly 55,000 Malaysians every year (from 2003-2013). It may seem like a big number but it only constitutes roughly 5.5% of the tertiary student population (from 2000-2010). Academically, there is not much difference between degrees earned locally & those abroad. The special-sauce is in the broadening of the mind & the ability to consider multiple perspectives after being exposed & forced to survive in a foreign culture. With a simple gesture, you can share a glimpse of what you've learned with a new generation of Malaysians with the hopes that your postcard will spark young minds & inspire them to surpass your wildest imaginations.

Send Postcards To Where You Know It Will Actually Be Used

Perhaps you can send a few back to your past schools. I'm sure the students there will be inspired by what you have achieved as an alumnus. You might need to do some liaising.

I decided to send my cards to teachers because I am a teacher & I believe teachers make a difference every day. Having taught in one of the most extreme circumstances in Malaysia, I knew that Malaysian teachers face an uphill battle every single day whilst performing their most essential purpose = preparing the next generation for 21st century challenges while climbing mountains of paperwork & mindless midnight data entry. Teachers don't often get the support they need for the work that they do. Therefore, while I was studying, I facilitated a video exchange program between the US-Malaysia. Additionally, upon my graduation, I sent postcards to 163 schools in Malaysia.

Check Out All The Creative Ways Malaysian Teachers Used Their Postcards!

Sunday, April 1

Written Charades - No Prep ESL Activity

How do you make sure your students pay attention to new vocabulary you've covered in your lessons & incentivize them to return to those from time to time? Every teacher knows charades & it's classic vocabulary game that's great for all levels & ages. But, what happens when one student/team completely dominates the game every time you play it? How do you make sure that everybody gets a chance to participate? Also, how do you know if your students can spell the words correctly?

I've figured out a No Prep way to tap into what makes the game great & engage all students without alienating those who are a little bit slow (like myself, I'm really bad at charades). Trust me, your students will frantically flip through their notes during this engaging ESL activity! Try this out & let me know how your lesson went! =)


Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Cooperative Learning, Spelling
Materials: Dry-erase markers, & dry-erase tablets (you can make your own low-cost version by laminating white/colored paper)
Time: 15-20 min

Friday, March 30

Reflections on the 2017 Video Exchange Project

In early 2017, I wanted to connect students in Malaysia & the US to help make learning English more relevant to young Malaysians & share the wonders of multiculturalism in my moderate-Muslim-majority country with young people in the US. I considered all of the barriers for such an undertaking & figured that the best way to do this was to run a video exchange project targeting teachers as they would be able to provide mentorship & support to their students.

First, let me congratulate SMK St Thomas (Cikgu Khor), SMK Batu Lintang (Cikgu Ho), Youth Guidance (Mr Oommen), & Operation Breakthrough (Mr Rowles) for completing the project!

In this blog post, I will share publicly available pictures & videos from the participants as well as what I have learned as the coordinator of the project.

Thursday, March 29

Sentence Strips - Low Prep ESL Activity


How do you segue from reading & discussion into grammar with an activity that's engaging and cooperative? How can you squeeze more teaching out of a reading passage that you spent so much time sourcing & painstakingly adapting?

This week's Low Prep post-reading activity was created to assess/develop my students' understanding of English sentence structure & give them an opportunity to communicate while figuring out a puzzle with a partner! If you've tried this, let me know how your lesson went in the comments!

Skills Engaged: Grammar, Cooperative Learning
Materials: Paper strips, & scissors
Time: 10-20 min

Sunday, March 18

Sentence Run - No Prep ESL Activity


What do you do to reinforce vocabulary you taught your students? Do you find yourself constantly having to repeat definitions? What if its the end of the day & your students have already sat through hours upon hours of lectures? This activity will definitely help you with all of the above!

I don't know about you, but I for one am tired of constantly having to repeat the meanings of words that I've already explained a gazillion times before. I prefer to remain sanguine & tai-chi the learning burden onto my students. You will see them desperately racking their brains or pouring through their notes for this activity! Ah... the joys of learning.

This is one of my favorite No Prep vocabulary practice activities & it never fails to wake up & engage my students. Students of all ages & levels will enjoy this one. It's a great way for students to revise the vocabulary you've taught them & practice their sentence formation skills too. Try it out & let me know how it went in the comments!

Skills Engaged: Vocabulary, Writing, Grammar, Cooperative Learning, Spelling
Materials: Whiteboard, markers, & a vocabulary list
Time: 20-30 min

Monday, March 12

Essay Strips - Low Prep ESL Activity

When you give your students a passage to read, how can you be sure that they are actually reading & comprehending the text? How do you make reading more engaging?

Created out of necessity while working with a class of students who didn't like to read & inspired by an activity on Breaking News English, here's another Low Prep activity that you might want to try out in your ESL class. Try it out in your class & let me know how it went in the comments!

Skills Engaged: Reading, Grammar, Cooperative Learning
Materials: Whiteboard, poster/easel papers, & markers
Time: 20-30 min

Sunday, March 4

The Disappearing Text - No Prep ESL Activity


This is one of my favorite post-reading activities & students of all ages enjoy it too. The best part is it engages your students for 20+ minutes & it's No Prep! Try it with your students next week & let me know how it went! =)

Skills Engaged: Reading, Pronunciation, Memory, Writing, Grammar, & Spelling.
Materials: whiteboard, marker, & eraser

Saturday, February 24

Register As Pengundi Pos Luar Negara Via Email In Just 5 Minutes!


I sent in my Permohonan Kertas Undi Pos (Pengundi Pos Luar Negara) a month ago after reading this post on my Facebook feed & was surprised that some Malaysians I spoke to thought that it would be too much trouble to bother. That's ludicrous & asinine (my latest favorite word)! Well, guess how long it took me to finish the application?

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