Monday, December 7, 2009

Malay and Indian students use word cards to learning Mandarin

BUTTERWORTH, PENANG: Teachers of SJK(C) Kuang Yu came out with creative teaching methods to help Malay and Indian students to learn basic Chinese language. They turned all student into "mobile dictionaries" by requiring them to wear word cards.

When students met at schools, they had to address each other according to the words that they were wearing. They could guide and correct each other if they pronounced the words wrongly.

Principal Zhong Yueyin said that basically, the cards will be changed every two days. However, if the students cannot not read the words, they will have to wear the cards until they can pronounce the words correctly.

"Students always learn fast if there are any pejorative word such as cunning and treacherous. As they are afraid to be teased by others, they hope to get rid of the cards as soon as possible."

She said that it is a special situation in SJK(C) Kuang Yu. Because of population outflow of Chinese in the fishing village, two-thirds of students are Malays and Indians. In other words, 31 out of 44 students are non-Chinese.

"Fishing" word cards to learn vocabularies

However, a lot of Malay and Indian students did not know Chinese. Teachers had to find a lot of creative teaching methods to help them learn the basics so that they could catch up the syllabus in secondary school.

“Word cards can help them to increase vocabulary and improve language skill,” she said.

Zhong said that students can also play “fishing game” with the word cards. Teachers will make some special fishing rods with a magnet attached at the end, while each word card will be attached with a paper clip.

"Teachers will let students to "fish" the word cards and read the words on it. Once they find it interesting, they will be willing to participate in the game. It can also be a competition.

“Besides, teachers will also shuffle the cards and ask the students to chose a card and read out the words,” she said.

In addition to word cards, teachers here also used a method called “morning reading” to enhance children's interest in reading.

Students would be divided into two groups according to their levels and they would have to read children's songs for 15 minutes before class every morning.

“Sometimes, we will choose short article for them to read or to have a dictation.They are required to translate Malay sentences into Chinese, too."

Zhong claimed that some non-Chinese students always cheat. Their attendance rate is poor and they do not submit their homework or bring their textbooks.

Teachers were annoyed by their passive and negative attitude.

Zhong, with 20 years of teaching experience, said that it is the first time for her to come across with such problems.

She told Guang Ming Daily that a year four Indian students had absent for 44 days in 190 school days last year. He did not submit his homework and tried to use the excuse of stomachache.

"If a student does not bring his or her textbook to school for several days, I will take him or her home to get the textbook."

She believed that more than 50% of the students do not do their homework after school. However, no matter how bad their results are, the teachers will never give up.

"We will do our best to help them and gradually improve their academic performance. We will not give up any of the students, teachers will do their best to care for and love them."

Zhong said that in order to enhance the reading atmosphere, students are required to introduce new books during the weekly assembly to attract more students to borrow books from the library. Every student has 3 minutes to share their reading reports on the stage.

"Non-Chinese students are having problems to read, write and understand in Chinese. Therefore, the school has to put more efforts in teaching methods. Fortunately, there is a group of caring staff and teachers in Kuang Yu. They are willing to teach the students from the very beginning, and we have gradually seen the results."

Five students, including two Malays, sat for the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR) this year, and they got a 100% passing rate. The principle was gratified but at the same time, she was stressful.

She said that the average result of non-Chinese students is always pulled down by Chinese language. Once they do not understand the meaning of the words, they will have difficulties to answer the exam paper, such as Science.

Students usually speak Bahasa Malaysia

"As non-Chinese students are more than Chinese students, they usually speak Bahasa Malaysia in class. Every Chinese student can speak Bahasa Malaysia fluently after a period of time.

“However, the school will keep on promoting the Chinese speaking campaign to encourage Malays to speak Chinese,” she said.

The two Malay examinees that got all pass in the UPSR were so happy during the interview.

They did not speak Chinese at home and most of the time, they communicated in Bahasa Malaysia.

To them, the most difficult part during the process of learning Chinese was comprehension. They found it difficult to answer the questions as they did not understand the article.

They hoped to continue learning Chinese when they are in secondary school.

Treat students like own children

Zhong said that children in the fishing village only learn at school. They never take any tuition class. Most of the non-Chinese parents do not pay much attention in education, causing the school to get half the result with twice the effort.

She always encouraged teachers to be patient and care for the students. "We want to treat the students like our own children. If their results are poor, what will you do?"

“If you are angry, take a deep breath,” she said.

She never gave negative comments on the children in front of their parents. She hoped that parents will cooperate with the school in order to get the best result(Translated by YOU HSUEH LIN/ Guang Ming Daily)

MySinchew 2009.12.04

Geronimo's Take: Needless to say, these will be the children that will be ahead of the pack in the years to come, and to take on the challenges of globalisation. With our education system in such a kelam kabut state, and UMNO leaders who have so little faith that they have to resort to sending their children overseas, our national type schools will never churn out world beaters. It's so sad, especially when we used to be at the very top using English as a medium.

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