Category: Lifelong Learning


Oh my.

Can you imagine it? Children as young as 7 years old — obese?

Adolescents, who are supposed to be in the prime of their life, active with physical activities and such — obese?

 

Sadly, that is the situation not only in Malaysia, but around the world as well. This global phenomenon certainly has dire consequences on our future generation, and our future as a nation too.

Obesity is not a health problem in itself. What is scary about obesity is that it affects various other organ systems and compromises the length of your lifespan.

And the scary truth is, it is currently affecting even children and adolescents.

 

For my subject “Physical Education — Organization of Sports” we had to do journal article reviews and give a personal response to them as well (seems to be a rather popular task in the Faculty of Education,Β eh?)

The three articles that we were supposed to work on, I chose on the topic of obesity. There were numerous articles on that topic and I even discovered one (to my surprise) called theΒ Journal of Obesity.

Wow. Can you imagine? A whole journal dedicated to the issue and global epidemic of obesity.

Which proves how serious a problem it is. >.<

This is a simpler assignment where we had to review 3 articles and give short responses in a total of 5-6 pages.

 

I learned a lot on obesity from this assignment. And again, dealing with e-journals from the library’s databases was something that was getting more and more familiar, although it was as tedious as ever.

Nevertheless, I learned a lot through this assignment — about obesity and writing short reviews and summaries and giving my response to it πŸ™‚

 

Read on if you want to have a look !

Journal Article 1:Β Boutelle

Journal Article 2:Β Ozturk

Journal Article 3:Β SR Daniels

Essay:Β Obesity

 

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Time really flies.

It’s now nearing the end of the first semester of my third year.

This sem has been really busy that I feel like I have not had much time to breathe.

Finals are coming up soon and I’m still doing assignments. I have yet to start some real, sit-down, proper studying for the exams. Which I guess means that I am as good as dead this time >.<

 

Oh well, as always, in all things, I try to do the best that I can with what I have (however limited time I have).

So for my SPKG evaluations this sem, I will do what I have time for. It will not be much, but hopefully it is enough πŸ™‚

 

Anyway, for this post, I want to show you one of the assignments I did for Learner Diversity. Everybody was doing topics on Autistic Children, ADHD Children, Culturally Diverse Children.

I chose a topic I was quite interested in.

Sexual Minorities.

Yes, it is sort of a taboo subject in Malaysia. My question is “Why?”

Although yes, the government, the official religion (Islam), the society, the schools — do not recognize sexual minorities like lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGB), that does not mean that they do not exist do they?

Facing facts, sexual minority individuals do exist in our society, regardless of whether we want to acknowledge the fact or not.

What happens to these individuals, especially LGB youth? They are oppressed to silence, they are discriminated against, they are just not acknowledged.

And what does that do to them?

Studies have shown that these LGB youth are at a higher risk for substance abuse, suicide attempts and drop outs not because they are gay, for example, but because of how they are treated for being gay !

Schools, especially, are supposed to provide our youth, regardless of whether they are the typical adolescent, or a sexual minority individual, with a safe learning environment to realize their highest potential. If we do not address such issues, or if the teachers themselves shy away from the topic and refuse to understand them, then what will happen to our youth?

The article I chose talks about preparing future teachers to address the issue of sexual minority youth through teacher education. I thought it was extremely thought-provoking and triggered me to question the situation of sexual minorities in Malaysia.

 

Interested? Go ahead and read my journal article review and personal response to it πŸ™‚

Here’s the journal article:Β LGB Youth

And my essay:Β Sexual Minorities and Teacher Education.

Enjoy reading ! I hope this will be an eye-opener as it has been for me πŸ™‚

Speaking of past assignments made me nostalgic. So I went back to my folder of past assignments that I have done.

No, I don’t usually save ALL my assignments. But I save my literary essays that I write for my literature classes because I usually do enjoy writing them, and rereading them. πŸ™‚

I know this is not really under evaluation for my SPKG, but I thought I would share this with you.

During my first year, second semester, I took my FIRST Literature course in university. It was interesting, and I fell in love with Dr. Nackeeran, a lecturer from the Pusat Pengajian Bahasa and Linguistik (PPBL)Β who took us that semester. He was kind, and gentle and very inspiring. He would digress from Lit to wonderful stories of his childhood and experiences. These were digressions we never minded.

He taught us to love Literature, and I do love Literature. Because of him? I do not know. But in my 2 years in university thus far, my favourite subjects have been the Literature courses I took in PPBL (no offense to the Education Faculty :P) – Introduction to Literature in first year, English Literature for Malaysian Schools and this semester, Malaysian Literature in English.

For our first year, after having been “introduced” to Literature all over again, we were asked to do our very first critical essay. I was terrified. Not so much because I thought I could not do it. More so because I wanted so badly to impress Dr. Nackeeran and please him with good writing. I hoped I could.

He told us to choose one short story and write an essay of it. He gave us guidelines and short notes (it being our first Literature critical essay).

I chose The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.

I LOVE this story ! I fell in love with its sombre, mysterious, and sometimes chilling tone of writing. It inspired me to write. πŸ™‚

It is a story of a madman and how he plots to, and finally, murders an innocent man in cold blood.

It is an extremely interesting story, written in a very interesting style. I still LOVE the story to this day. πŸ˜›

If you are interested to read the story, you can read it HERE.

Well, you can read my critical essay on The Tell-Tale Heart as well. πŸ™‚

>>> The Tell-Tale Heart

I got an A for this paper. πŸ˜›

Now, do you understand why I love Literature? ^^

One of the assignments that was required for my GGGV2044 Methods in TESL course this semester was a 20% individual research paper on one or more of the methods of language teaching in an ESL (English as a Second Language) context such as Malaysia.

Dr. Hamidah (Dr. H from PKAPS :P) was my lecturer for this course. And she, being as flexible as she was, gave us some freedom on the topic that we wished to discuss in our research paper. She told us we could:

1) discuss one method in detail, describing the advantages and disadvantages of the use of the method,

2) compare one method up against another, discussing the pros and cons of both,

3) do an analysis of more than two methods, or

4) write a chronological timeline of the methods including the principles of language teaching at the particular time period.

All interesting topics, for sure. But I chose Topic #1 πŸ™‚

I chose the Audio-lingual Method (ALM) to discuss and write on, because I felt that the theories behind ALM were interesting and are heavily debated even to this day.

Searching for resources was the first thing I knew I needed to do. I had to first read up on the method and know it inside out before I could start any writing at all.

Normally when I search for resources, I go to our UKM library’s online e-journals for students. I find it convenient and it has helped me in completing all my essays. When I was in first year, I used to Google up books from the internet but was more often than not, frustrated because the books available online were incomplete, or we would have to pay by credit card in order to proceed to the next page.

After discovering PTSL (Perpustakaan Tun Seri Lanang) E-Journal, I felt like smacking myself in the forehead. Why did I not use this before?? All the articles and journals that could be found there were COMPLETE and FREE. That is exactly what it is for, isn’t it?

I managed to find a few articles in online journals that were interesting and gave me the information I needed. I had to look for them under SCOPUS of course, and EBSCOHOST (Educational online data bases) as well. It took me some time to narrow down the search to find what I wanted on ALM, but I did. πŸ™‚

After reading and “digesting” what I had read from the articles as well as from several books I had, there was a lot of information obtained on ALM. All I needed to do now was to decide what I wanted to include in my research paper and organize all my thoughts systematically. I would also have to list down a few quotes that brought new ideas to the general topic of ALM.

After thinking about it, I came up with this rough draft:

HEADINGS AND SUBHEADINGS

Introduction: Brief description of the theory behind ALM

History: How ALM came about; the theory of language teaching at that period

Principles of ALM: Beliefs and assumptions (and counter-arguments?)

Main features: Key activities

Techniques: Specific activities and tasks carried out in ALM that support theory and principles

Advantages

Disadvantages

Recommendations: Suggestions (personal) on employing the ALM in Malaysian context

Conclusion: Closing summary on the whole topic

Based on these headings and subheadings, I drafted my research paper. I wrote down what points I wanted to include in that particular category, the examples I wanted to give, the page of reference from either the journals or the books. Quotes that I wanted to include together with the author’s name and year of book publication.

Complying strictly to my draft, I started writing my research paper. And surprisingly, such a daunting task was completed within the day !

It took my longer to compile the information and organize my thoughts and ideas. That took me a few days: searching for articles on the internet and online journals, looking for suitable books to source from, organizing my ideas into categories and headings etc.

After that was done, I started writing based on the draft I had already prepared. And it was smooth-flowing from there. I had everything I needed right in front of me (including pages of the book or article to refer to) and so I managed to complete writing in 3-4 solid hours.

It was still rough around the edges, but everything I wanted to say was already typed out onto “paper”.

Next, came the editing. I usually find it harder to edit my own work. I have a tendency to ramble on when I write (as is pretty obvious by how long my blog posts are =.=) and so find it extremely hard to cut down on my “precious words” after that. Still, I tried my best. I cut out sentences I thought were not necessary, tweaked a few here and there. Replaced some words with more effective ones.

When I was almost satisfied with it, I worked on the margins and font size, checking if everything was according to the UKM format. Then I reread my work a couple of times to get the “feel” of the writing before I wrote my conclusion. I added in Appendix A (some other examples I had but did not elaborate on in the research paper itself) and typed out the references I had following UKM format. Finally I reread the entire assignment from beginning to end, checking for spelling mistakes (Well, I guess Microsoft Word does that for you now, but you still have to check, don’t you?), typing errors, margins, format, quotations.

And I was satisfied. πŸ™‚

Handed it in to Dr. H 3 days before the deadline (Yes, I am very proud of that fact ! :P).

I actually enjoyed this assignment. When I reread my work, I always feel an immense feeling of satisfaction from having put my best into completing it. With regards to the subject matter, I better understood what ALM was all about (the Larsen-Freeman book is a really simple-read, straightforward and direct ! Helped me tremendously).

The process itself was a self-satisfying one. I learnt to source for my materials and resources using our UKM library’s online journals. I learnt to organize my thoughts and ideas, one step at a time. When you do that, any task can be completed without much fuss and minimal headache ! I also learnt that it is always better to read up and understand the entire topic on your own first, and write based on what you understand the topic to be. Rather than copy and paste everything from your sources (which is plagiarism ! And unethical ! >.<)

This assignment has been a learning experience once again and helped me solidify skills that I had already learnt from completing past assignments (like using PTSL E-Journals) as well as familiarize myself with new skills (organizing my thoughts out on paper first) that I can continue to use for the next assignment, and all the assignments after that. πŸ™‚

ALM_Discussion

We had the Closing Ceremony after that. All the groups reconvened in the main hall upstairs to present something special to the rest of the Camp participants.

Everyone did really well. Most presented a singing performance. Others had recitals. Some even presented some of their handiwork during the Camp. And the little Standard 6 kids presented a very heartwarming performance sporting tiny little paper hands drawn as an exact replica of their own hands. They were just adorable ! πŸ˜›

My group? We sang Through My Window by Bunkface.

There was a tiny slip-up when Farhan suddenly, out of nervousness, switched to his native language Bahasa when he was supposed to speak in English. But everything else went well. πŸ™‚

They sang with such gusto despite not being confident in the language, that my heart was just bursting with pride !

I like the lyrics to this song πŸ™‚

THROUGH MY WINDOW by Bunkface

I don’t want much, I just want everything
Thought that I could, do almost anything
One step in front of the other
Thought that I could do it alone

In the blink of an eye, it’s just another day
Telling me why, I’ll find another way
Got this feeling, got me reeling
I can almost start believing

Now there’s me and you
And we are not alone
You and me
We are together now
Through my window, I can see there’s
More than you and more than me
Me and you
And we are not alone
Different view
We are together now
Through my window, I can see
Our wildest dreams could be so real

They did reaaaalllyyyy well πŸ™‚

Then we had Station Games as the final activity, which all of them really enjoyed. We definitely could see that. And soon, it was the prize-giving ceremony where every group got prizes (cash prizes !) and each member could bring back a little something πŸ˜›

I have learnt so much from Dr. Hamidah, and my final-year TESL seniors. I have learnt so much from my classmates. These times have just drawn us closer together in friendship – something that I hope will continue to grow strong every semester spent together, for the rest of our undergraduate years. I want to take this opportunity to thank Jess too (I doubt she will read this XD) for being my AWESOME partner during the Camp, and for being my “second head” when panicking about what to do with the kids. πŸ˜›

I had the most enjoyable time with the children – definitely something that I will never forget. Although I have forgotten many of their names, but I remember each of their faces very well. They were people who touched me with their determination, their enthusiasm, and their willingness to learn.

They taught me patience. They taught me that as teachers, you must first get to know your students under your care. Every child is smart and talented and unique. You just need to encourage and hone whatever they possess. They taught me to treat my students with respect; only then, will they in turn, respect you. Never ever give up on your students. Cos some of them may just surprise you. And most of all, enjoy your time with your students. You will never feel anything more satisfying πŸ™‚

I truly treasure this experience with the kids at Kundang Ulu, Johor. It has been such a privilege.Β I know I have much to learn, and teaching is certainly not going to be an easy task. But after those few days, I know the rewards are so much bigger.

I pray for strength and determination to keep me going. Hopefully, I will be the best kind of teacher that I can be. πŸ˜›

[The End]

I saw this posted on my friend’s Facebook profile today. I was curious, because the title of the video said:

The Girl Who Silenced the World For 5 Minutes

I watched it.

I cried.

I don’t know. It was more like, I felt extremely emotional.

There were things she said that felt like a slap to my face. Made me think. Made me ashamed.

In 1992, the world was already experiencing problems.

The ozone layer was disappearing, the animals were going extinct, innocent children were dying all over the world. There were still wars, people were greedy, people were unwilling to share.

In 2010, nothing much has changed, has it?

It seems that people are still blind and near-sighted. We do not think ahead. We only care about the here and now.

What are the consequences on the future generations if we continue doing what we are doing now?

It may be difficult for some, but I can imagine a world where animals will be a rare sight (it already is), sky is no longer clear, no more grass or trees or lakes or rivers.

What do we have?

Buildings and skyscrapers, factories, smoke and haze, unbearable hot temperatures.

Death. Poverty. Hate.

How can we want a world like that, if not for us, for our children? For our children’s children?

We must do something. We must.

Or at least, STOP doing what we are doing now.

“You DON’T know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer. You DON’T know how to bring the salmon back up in a dead stream. You don’t know how to bring back an animal, now extinct. And you CAN’T bring back the forest that once grew where there is now a desert.”

~Severn Suzuki, 12 years, representative of ECO (Environmental Children’s Organization)

The first weekend in January of the second semester of session 2009/2010 – 8th to the 10th – was a weekend that I was not looking forward to. At first.

Us girls lepak-ing by the pool !

We were told that our entire class of TESL/2 has been selected by Dr. Hamidah Yamat@Ahmad (onward referred to as Dr. H) to go for a trip. Not just any trip, mind you. But a compulsory trip. (Read: had no other choice)

Like any other spoiled child, we grumbled and whined “Why meeee??? Why do we have to gooo???” =.=”

It turned out to be one of the most fun trips I had ever had !

This trip, as was eventually explained to us by Dr. H herself, was actually a training camp. Train for what, we asked. Oh, to train you to be the facilitators for the English Camp we are going to conduct in Kundang Ulu, Johor the following weekend of course, she answered.

We were literally speechless >.<

As part of the research project Dr. H was conducting called Program Kecemerlangan Akademik Pendidikan Sekolah (PKAPS), we were to carry out a 2 day English camp at a secondary school in Kundang Ulu – as facilitators.

And for that, we would have to be trained and briefed.

Phase I: Training Camp (8-10 January 2010) at the Bougainvillea Resort, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.

Dearest Yana, Ana and Shan ! πŸ™‚ We make 1Malaysia hehe

For this program, we also joined forces with our final year TESL-UKM seniors, whom we were not acquainted with. Until then of course.

The aim of this camp was to first, brief the facilitators (us !) on what PKAPS was all about, and how the school in Kundang Ulu is like. Next was to train the facilitators (that’s us !) on how to conduct fun language classes with poor proficiency students in rural area schools. Finally, to brainstorm together on activities and tasks that will not only be fun and interesting, but also effective English language learning stuff; which will eventually be published in an activity book of sorts as reference for other educators. πŸ™‚

We were divided into groups comprising of us, second year students as well as our seniors. As a team, we were supposed to come up with ideas for fun activities that we could do with the kids in Kundang Ulu to stimulate their interest in learning the English Language and not to give up, just yet. πŸ™‚

Yes, it was hard work. For hours on end, we would just sit and discuss and brainstorm for ideas for various aspects of language learning – teaching grammar, vocabulary, listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. We had to fine-tune the details of each activity – the materials needed, the aims and objectives, the advantages.

Playing Snap! in our free time πŸ˜›

By the end of the first day there, I felt like all my brain juices had been squeezed out. I was mentally drained.

However, we all came alive when it was our break time ! πŸ˜›

This was our first time out on a trip like this as a class. You can’t blame us for wanting to relax and have fun ! We were at a resort by the beach ! πŸ™‚

Then it was back to work again. Presenting our ideas to the rest of the groups, giving feedback to one another to improve on our ideas. We each had gotten to know our group members well by then, friendship sealed by hysterical laughter and sly teasing πŸ™‚ Discussions were tough, but we each contributed, giving our best to come up with good, workable ideas.

Finally, we compiled everything, the materials for our exciting first, real (well, for me, anyway) teaching experience ready and waiting.

Despite all the hard work, we enjoyed ourselves, fostered friendships with seniors I would not have known were it not for this program, as well as drew closer to my fellow course mates whom I knew, but never really knew. πŸ˜›

Our group: Just Do It ! That's It ! *lol*

The long-dreaded weekend in PD turned out to be one of the sweetest memories I have with my fellow TESLians. I had never laughed so much in my life before !

It was exciting, thinking of all the kids waiting for us in Kundang Ulu. Think of what we had in store for them !

I am honestly privileged to have been a part of this program – it was certainly an enriching and valuable experience I hope I never forget. πŸ™‚

TESL/2 (Can you see it in the sand? ^^)

Enjoying the windy sea breeze of PD air πŸ™‚