Saturday, 12 July 2014

How do you use Microsoft Word?

Anyone who knows how to use a computer would be familiar with this...

I could be bias, but I am extremely proud of my husband, who could do this... with Microsoft Word!


or even create ideas to expand the current house in Auckland to maximise its value with the least amount of renovation fees...

...all while having no background in art but a whole lot of interest in cars and houses...

I love how my husband is someone who thinks out of the box!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Do not lose heart

This morning I waited for my pastors to pick me up for our prayer meeting. There were only 3 of us, but then again, "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20).

Compared to the many prayers meeting I've been before, the ones we have here in this church in Gua Musang is a whole lot more intense... We're not talking about an hour of intercession, but it went on to more than 4 hours... Praying in tongues, seeking the Lord, praying for the land, the people, the many needs...

You see, I have been praying for a long time to hear from God. From time to time, it felt like there were prompts, the 'still small voice', messages, songs etc that felt like guidance from Him but I was never really sure. I mean, we often read about the audible interaction between God and men in the old testaments. the disciples get to hear directly from Jesus in the New Testament, and also testimonies of people having dreams and visions of God speaking to them... I guess I always wanted to have a personal encounter as such; yet a part of me would still be worried and wondered what if God really did speak to me but I didn't like what He said lol.

With all the challenges Alex and I are currently facing, I couldn't help but really needed to hear from God. Scared or not scared, I felt like we needed specific direction or even hope, to persevere and brave the storm... So after praying and singing in tongues, I was silently praying within me "speak to me Lord, speak to me Lord..."

The beautiful thing about praying in tongues is that you have no control over what you speak and it felt like a beautiful language... and suddenly I found myself repeating 'too chora sei',
'too chora sei', 'too chora sei'..... And even when I started praying for other things, those 4 syllables kept coming back to me... I had no idea what it meant... And I started praying to God to explain to me...

Next thing I knew, I just had to stop praying, and I reached out for my phone, to locate my bible app...

To be honest, I have no idea what gave me that thought, I was led to interpret
'too chora sei' and 2 Corinthians (from 'too chora') chapter 4 (from the cantonese sound of the number 4 hahahaha)... And I really don't know whether that would even make sense lol... But that was the chapter I turned to...

I read each word... the whole chapter... repeatedly...

The whole chapter was speaking to me...

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 
For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  
persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.  
11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.  
12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,  
14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  
15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  
17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

While I meditated on the whole chapter, the first few verses were the wake up call for me - especially on the part of do not distort the word of God. It is so easy to compromise on God's order by rationalising it to fit with our selfish desires. It is also extremely easy to 'simplify' God's words according to our own understanding...

But the verses that really spoke to me were verses 16 to 18: DO NOT LOSE HEART....

I suddenly realised how tired I have been emotionally, battling the challenges of a long distance marriage, complicated family issues, uncertain future, my husband's new transition, and the burden placed on my heart for the unjust treatment the Asli students received and the brokenness in the lives of my students...

But still what tires me out the most is the lack of breakthrough in Alex's situation even though he had worked so hard to honour God and not succumb to the ways of men, to do the right things, to go the extra mile, and yet we were brought back to the starting point... Though we are both praying together, supporting each other, and excited for the new future, I realise I do get scared... Scared of the disappointments, of having to go through rounds of road blocks, halfway leads, near misses, and the worst - disappointment from people especially the ones that matter....

BUT I FELT SO MUCH PEACE as the words sank in,


Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

I realised it is so true that we may feel defeated on the outside, but within us, God is working, and renewing us. Just like the eagle, that braces the storm, builds its muscles in the process and soar above the storm...I really believe (regardless of whether 2 Corinthians 4 has anything to do with 'too chora sei'), God did lead me to those scriptures, to those very words I needed at that moment - the reassurance from Him.

I hardly write about my Christian faith though I do often give God the glory... But this could not pass without been penned down.

And so I will not lose heart. We will persevere. We will come out victorious for God is with us.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

getting to their level

There has been a lot of heat recently when a PHD student wrote a public open letter to a rather controversial yet popular news webpage, telling teachers to use L2 instead of L1 in the classrooms and was very against word-to-word translation, indirectly blaming Malaysian English teachers for the downfall of the overall English proficiency among students.

To be perfectly honest, while I feel victimised by her opinions, I looked at the teachers around me and would give her credit to a certain extent.

Of course, no language teachers would choose to teach the target language in the students' mother's tongue if they have a choice. Speaking for myself, I would choose to teach in English above all else in a really ideal situation. But how often do we get an ideal classroom?

The truth is, there are HEAPS of lazy teachers.

Those who are only concern about their salary and their 'claims', those who do not enter classes, those who enter classes but do not teach, those who never even bother coming to school, those who leave the school way before they should, those who use school hours to run personal errands, those who hand out answers to students during exams to ensure his/her class score well, those who never step foot in the school assembly, those who eat in the canteen during school assembly, those who get students to run tasks for them while they laze at their couch smoking, those who blatantly stand up and leave the meeting room even when the principal is still giving his speech, those who are more concern about selling things than their lesson plans, those who constantly trying on the array of tudung, those who do not enter the exam classes to invigilate and give students the permission to cheat, and those who take the easy way out.

(the examples above are found in my school.)

And I have also come across English teachers who teach in L1, simply because they do not have the competency in L2.

There is an obvious lack of creativity, passion and dedication among many of our teachers. Of course they have to take the blame to a certain extent, but I also see the great burnt out as well as lack of motivation amongst them, simply because many of us are stuck in very discouraging situation.

Most of them are struggling with long-distance-marriage, our students are a tough bunch to teach, the students' parents do not value education, and mostly, for the bright and enthusiastic teachers, their fuel easily runs out simply as there is a great lack of professional development, acknowledgement or even support.

I really enjoyed my time teaching the Catholic High Students. They are highly proficient, witty, and a whole lot of fun to teach. Not only was I able to apply whatever I've learned in teaching, I taught only in English, was able to maximise my lessons with help of technology, and students often surprised me with their end product.

But now,

I teach in a high school in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

We were apparently ranked at the very bottom of the high schools in Kelantan, and Kelantan's SPM achievement was at the bottom tier out of the 13 states.

To better show you my students' level, here's a glance of their recent results:

Most of them scored below 25 marks and those marks are already from their effort in cheating during test. (3 out of 5 classes admitted to cheating when I threatened to retest them after seeing the obvious attempts in cheating; while the other 2 were just too weak to even cheat).

I don't know whose fault is it that at the age of 14 - 17, many still can't identify the meanings of very basic vocabulary such as 'trees' and 'bread'. I wanted to blame their previous teachers but then again when I tried my hardest to teach them, they seemed to have learned it well on that lesson but very soon forget everything the next day and even had the guts to claim that I had never taught them that before.


It is a profession that brings you a lot of disappointment, if you fully invest yourself in it.

It is a profession where your pay does not equate to the time and effort of your toil.

It is a profession with the highest risk of stress-related illness.

It is a profession with little respect and regard in our country.

It is a profession highly misunderstood by many.

It is a profession you either hate or love.

But, when you have GOOD TEACHING DAYS, or a simple ACKNOWLEDGEMENT or APPRECIATION from your students,


Satisfaction, pride, relief, joy..... It is also a profession that brings you meaningful experiences.

I would not bash this particular person for her opinions, as she does have valid points; but as a senior of mine had pointed out, WE WANT TO BE SHOWN WHAT TO DO.

To be fair,

I give you the situation of my classroom, and how I handled it. I am open for constructive feedback, as I believe that's how we actually learn to be a better teacher.

I have a class of 41 students, aged 14. They are a mixture of Malays, Chinese and Asli.

Here's the thing, only 2 out of 41 could make simple sentences, very simple SVO or SVC type of sentences.

The other 39 couldn't even tell me what's the past tense of 'sing' and have yet produced a single, unguided, error-free sentence. I can safely say, they are only at 'word-level'. I even had them tested and out of the first 1000 common English words, most of them scored 50 and below. We are talking about them not even knowing the meaning of 'care', or able to differentiate 'you' and 'your'.

The Chinese students to my horror, could not understand Malay. Possibly due to their family background and the strong racial sentiment in this place, they would rather fail in the Malay language.

The Malay kids are not even proficient in Malay, as they use the 'Kelate' dialect. I have been using 'Standard Malay' for my translation and even that proved to be hard for the students. Interestingly, the Asli students were the ones with better Malay proficiency, having learned it the 'baku' way.

We could easily say that to them, English has never been a L2. It is FOREIGN.

Now, the question is,


Do be mindful that in any Malaysian classroom, we are very time-constrained and are expected to finish our syllabus before their exams while our classes are often cancelled due to many school programmes and constant new launches by the government from time to time.

As for me,


The other 70% consists of explanation in Malay as well as Mandarin, followed by a lot of drawing and acting. I even had to use their different L1 to elicit responses in English from them.

The poem I had to teach was 'The River' by Valerie Bloom.

Using google image, I sourced for pictures, and drew them onto a Manila card.

Then I started off my lesson asking them in their L1, what comes to their mind when they think of a river.
Their answers were, "water, stones, fish."
Yup, that's all they could offer as a whole class.

I then proceeded to write six words on the board - Wanderer, Winder, Hoarder, Singer, Baby, Monster. 'Which of these words, do you already know its meaning?'

Not a surprise, they could only identify 'Baby' while a few boys yelled out 'Monster'. I was actually taken aback that none of them knew 'Singer'.

I then explained each of those words with a mixture of L1 and L2, and got the students to match my pictures with the 6 words. Thankfully, it was easily achieved.

As none of them brought their literature textbook (though I repeatedly reminded them before), I had to write down the poem, stanza by stanza on the board, explain to them word for word, and make sure they copy down neatly in their writing books.

As you can very well see, I had to teach in three languages.

At the end of the lesson, I tested their vocabulary by yelling out the L1 of the words, and having them give me the answer in English. Even the weakest in the class was able to provide me the right answer, which was a relief to me.

Lastly, I told them to draw the different characteristics or persona of the river beside their notes, in hopes that it will help them to remember better.

So that was how I taught the poem of The River in 70 minutes to this particular class.

Even if I tried, I would have not been able to teach completely in L1 for my lesson objectives to be achieved. It could be of my own lacking, so I would really like to know, how would you have taught differently with this particular group of students?

Any form of suggestions and ideas would be very much appreciated, as I truly want to be shown of new ways / perspective / techniques to teach my students.

If you feel like commenting on a more personal space, feel free to drop me an email on

If you are a fellow teacher and wishes to collaborate in any way (I have actually done quite a number of collaborations and thoroughly enjoy them), do drop me an email too :)

That's all for today,

God bless~