Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A discussion-based ESL classroom. Is it applicable?

"A series of hierarchical linear models indicated that discussion-based approaches were significantly related to spring performance..." (Langer, 2009). As stated by Langer, discussions are mostly related to good and arising performance in language. This indicates group discussions can be implemented in a class of students who can converse well in the target language. I used to teach university students for six months and witness that students in that level of education participated well in the ESL classroom discussion. A lot of ideas were exchanged among one another since most of my the students are able to speak well in English.
On the other hand, students in lower proficiency level are not advised to be taught using classroom discussions in ESL class. This is because they find it hard to say out what they think in the target language. As a result, the discussions become a more of a first-language discussion classroom. For example, I was given a poor English proficiency class this year in SMK Chung Hua. Whenever I bring out a topic to be discussed in the class, the students were absolutely interested to talk about the topic - in their mother tongue! This has hindered my aim of improving their English proficiency.
For good classes, as mentioned earlier, I agree with the usage of classroom discussion as a method ranging from debates to group forum. However, for poor classes, I normally try to improve their vocabularies in order for them to give out their ideas - using games! For example, in teaching lexical chunks like 'In my opinion.....' or 'Frankly speaking.....' in giving their opinions. This will subsequently boost their confidence in English communication skill. 
Lastly, surveys are utterly needed to give us an idea of students' preference of certain matter. For example, we can give a set of questionnaire to identify the students' preference towards classroom discussion

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Malaysia 13th General Election

Yesterday marked another history in Malaysia. Our 13th GE had just been successfully held throughout the nation. The winning party, BN, although losing 2/3 majority for the second time, deserves their victory. A lot of debates and speculations made post-election. But, frankly speaking, every party should accept their own fates whether or not they have won or been defeated. 

But the issue that worries me the most is the tendency of us to play the race issue here. Without neglecting the Malays, I admit this land belongs to the Malays. However to what extent does one can say the land belongs to one race and not the others? Why is it that we are so worried of the other races? 

Yes, that is embedded in our culture. THE MALAYS. We are lazy, ignorant but highly spirited when it comes to making riots and etc. Look at what happened yesterday, a video showing a group of young voters making a mess in Ipoh Timur. Were those young peeps the so-called New GENERATION of educated peeps? 

On the other hand, in Miri as an example, a lot of BN posters written with "A VOTE FOR PAKATAN=A VOTE FOR PAS" were hung up everywhere along the streets here. As a result, the CHINESE here voted OFF the BN and yeah, that is the race we usually call RACIST and being scared off.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Chinese people are merely like us. They'll do anything if they think their rights have been taken away. I am currently teaching in a Chinese school and I do not see any problem occuring. In fact, my colleagues were so happy when I speak Chinese with them. 
For the Malays, GROW UP! there's a huge world beyond what you are living in now. Change people's mindset about us. We are NOT lazy and NOT idiot.