Live and Learn, Any Day Given

Tag: education

Black Shoes White Shoes

Black Shoes White Shoes

Black Shoes are BAE Black shoes were exclusive back in my schooling days. Only prefects were permitted (I think regulated?) to wear black shoes. Hence the select few pupils could be seen donning the black pair of shoes on daily basis. Apparently our Education Misnister, […]

Science Bridge Academy’s Awesome Toys Workshop!

Science Bridge Academy’s Awesome Toys Workshop!

Hey there kiddos! Do you like to play and have fun? *nods* Do you want to make some cool stuffs of your own?? How bout a course where you can make cool science toys yourself!? Wohooo! Say no more. I found a programme just for […]

SUPER MINDS 2018 for Year 1 & 2: A Professional Opinion

SUPER MINDS 2018 for Year 1 & 2: A Professional Opinion

Super Minds to nurture Supreme Mindsets.

I came across this Super Minds textbooks for primary school post on Facebook. It was originally written by a good friend of mine, Mr Qarl Haiqal (he’s so good, people repeat one of the syllables of his name twice.) And I believe it’s something equally good for us to understand the context of the comments he made via his professional point of view.

It was upon on something like this news/article and this.

 

super minds textbooks
super minds textbooks . image via Beetify

 

You may read the original post here in Bahasa Malaysia, and the translations Google and I made just to give some of us the same idea in a different language. Oh and here are some references for the jargons used.;

  • CEFC – Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
  • ELSQC – English Language Standards and Quality Council
  • APTIS –  https://www.britishcouncil.my/exam/aptis/what
  • KSSR – Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah
  • LINUS – Literasi dan Numerasi

You’re welcome.

 

SUPER MINDS MEROSAK AKIDAH?

Mutakhir ini isu berkenaan buku teks terbaharu yang digunapakai murid-murid Tahun 1 & 2 2018, SUPER MINDS terbitan Cambridge University Press agak hangat diperkatakan, dibahaskan, diperdebatkan di media.

“Ada topik Halloween! Easter Bunny! template Merry Christmas!”
“Rosaklah akidah!”
“Bukan budaya kita!”
“Pembaziran wang”
dan sebagainya.

Baiklah, sebagai seorang Guru Bahasa Inggeris, situasi ini saya kira sesuatu yang positif dimana ibu bapa, ahli politik, individu tertentu nampaknya terus mengambil berat pendidikan anak-anak mereka/ generasi akan datang ini. Namun, ada baiknya sekiranya kebimbangan mahupun tohmahan itu disalurkan pada saluran sepatutnya.

Saya menyambut baik usaha penambahbaikan pendidikan Bahasa Inggeris dinegara kita dengan membawa masuk CEFR ini. Masih terngiang-ngiang betapa berkobar-kobar amanat yang disampaikan Prof. Dr. Zuraidah Mohd Don, Pengerusi ELSQC Malaysia mengenai CEFR. Beliau dan beberapa rakannya yang telah menghasilkan The RoadMap 2015-2025 dalam usaha mempertingkatkan standard Bahasa Inggeris dikalangan pelajar Malaysia.

CEFR places importance on communication. Sebelum ini bukan tiada pelajar kita yang cemerlang BI. Ramai yang mampu menghasilkan masterpiece dalam writing mereka, namun speaking wise? Agak mendukacitakan. Baseline study yang dijalankan diseluruh Malaysia pada 2013 menunjukkan majoriti murid tahun 6 berada pada level A1 CEFR. Penguasaan bahasa yang dikira minimum. Boleh rujuk CEFR Global scale untuk further details. Lepas saya tengok scale tu baru saya dpt relate dengan bahagian belakang certificate result APTIS yang saya ambil pada 2014. Ketika itu markah keseluruhan saya 169/200 dan saya dpt C1, rakan saya 172/200 dpt B2. Barulah saya tahu weightage setiap skill berbeza dan pemberat untuk speaking lebih, so kalau skor speaking skill more, tahap kita boleh naik.

Alright, bila kita belajar new language, of course kita kalau boleh nak ada opportunity to use the language especially in daily conversation. Masalahnya, before this kita agak exam-oriented, too much drilling on our students, result exam bagus tapi nak suruh mereka communicate, a big question mark there. Itulah kebimbangan bila graduan kita mula seek for jobs xlepas kerana communication yang lemah. Result power tapi lack on communication skill.

Alright. Super Minds pada saya jauh lebih friendly dan hands-on berbanding previous textbook utk Year 1 (KSSR semakan 2017). Bukan itu sahaja, colourful, attractive dan xde lenghty texts dah. Buku teks sebelum ini ada around 24 units if saya x silap dan frankly speaking, memang rushing nak cover semua unit yang ada dan towards end of year, untuk beberapa unit-unit terakhir macam touch & go je. Cepat-cepat nak cover all the words sebab ada tendency those words diuji dalam LINUS BI. Nampak tak?

On the contrary, Super Minds hanya ada 10 Units (saya +1 yang unit Friends tu sbb pada saya itu dh dikira unit juga coz ada contents mengenai colours, numbers and greetings). Dan lebih menarik, separuh unit diajar masa Tahun 1, selebihnya unit 5-9 di tahun 2.Roughly, 1 – 1 1/2 bulan untuk satu unit setahun. Tak perlu rushing, more focus, more comprehensive. Bermula 2018 juga, guru-guru BI kena focus Phonics sahaja untuk sebulan pertama Tahun 1 dan 2 minggu pertama Tahun 2. As for me this year i’m teaching Year 2, dan dah nak habis week 2 ni, apa yang boleh saya katakan, penekanan Phonics selama 2 weeks ni memang memberi impak dan membuatkan murid lebih ready sebelum kita masuk unit-unit Super Minds.

Buku teks sebelum ini bukanlah tidak bagus sepenuhnya, tapi saya merasakan contents dalamnya ada yang beyond capability Year 1 students. Contohnya ada satu text – Kiran’s Planner yang pada saya agak lengthy dan ada penggunaan 4 syllable words lagi didalamnya. Cukup berbeza dengan Super Minds.

Baiklah, berbalik kepada persoalan diatas. Merosak akidah and etc. Guru-guru BI yang mengajar Year 1 & 2 sepatutnya dah aware tentang material adaptation. Is either they attend the course last year or the information being cascaded time in–house training di sekolah masing-masing. Actually kita boleh lakukan some adaptation on the materials. Remember Super Minds kan imported text book, jadi pasti ada elemen yang tak kena dengan culture kita. So what to adapt? Kita boleh adapt contents, level, language dan process. Dan dalam course tu pun kita dah diajar on how to adapt – sama ada nak simplify, add or delete something, modify mahupun reorder balik activity/ task dalam tu. I could remember masa course tersebut, ada one topic on weather, dia guna international punya map, and through discussion, we agreed to adapt kepada Malaysian map. Process adapattion ni dilakukan untuk make sure contents tersebut more contextualised and personalized to our pupils. To me, time nak ajak Halloween nanti, boleh add sekali festivals in Malaysia – Hari Raya, Thaipusam etc. Dan apa masalahnya greeting card Merry Christmas tu? Bukankah negara kita berbilang kaum? Takkan itu pun sampai akan rosakkan akidah etc. And ramai juga persoalkan kenapa tak hasilkan our own version of CEFR textbook? Perhaps kita belum ada expertise and believe me, soon InshaAllah.

Akhir kata, risau tu boleh tapi janganlah terlalu risau sampai melebih-lebih pula. InshaAllah kami guru-guru yang diamanahkan untuk melaksanakan kurikulum baharu ini akan melaksanakan dengan sebaiknya. Bagi kami ruang juga. Ni baru minggu ke-2 sekolah dah ada ibubapa concern psl assessment CEFR mcm mana pula. *facepalm* Sabar sikit. Bukankah baru-baru ini, our Education Minister dah highlight supaya kita x emphasize pada bilangan As semata-mata tapi lebih kepada melihat murid secara total yakni kemenjadian murid tersebut.

Let’s gear up English teachers dan majulah pendidikan Bahasa Inggeris untuk negara Malaysia!

Maaf jika ada kesalahan tafsiran mahupun kata-kata (minta maaf – ini budaya kita),
Mr. Qarl Haiqal

 

Translations:

SUPER MINDS TO SHATTER FAITH?

There are recent issues regarding the latest textbook used by Year 1 & 2 pupils in 2018; the Cambridge University Press’ SUPER MINDS, which is being muttered, discussed, debated about via media.

“There’s a Halloween topic! Easter Bunny!  A Merry Christmas (greeting cards) template!”
“Broken faith!”
“Not our culture!”
“Waste of money”

etc.

Well as an English teacher, I think this situation is something positive where parents, politicians, certain individuals seem to show their care about education for their children / future generations. However, it would be great if the fears or rumors were channeled to the right places.

I welcome the efforts to enhance the English language education in this country by bringing in this CEFR. I still remember the message delivered by Prof. Dr. Zuraidah Mohd Don, Chairman of ELSQC (English Language Standards and Quality Council) Malaysia on CEFR. He and his friends are the key persons that have produced “The Road Map 2015-2025” as an effort to improve English language standards among Malaysian students.

 

Communication is Key

CEFR stresses the importance on communication. It’s not like we have never had students who were/are good in English. Many are capable to produce a masterpiece in their writing. But speaking wise? Somewhat displeasing. A baseline study conducted throughout Malaysia in 2013 showed that the majority of Year 6 pupils achieved A1 CEFR level. (That is) Minimum language proficiency. You may refer to CEFR Global scale for further details. After looking at the scale, then only I could relate it to the scores of APTIS (that I took in 2014) at the back of my certificate.

At that point my overall score was 169/200 and I got C1, whereas my friend got B2 with a score of 172/200. Then I figured out that the weightage of each skill is different from one another; for weighing for speaking more, so if the score for speaking skill is more, we can level up our proficiency!

Exam is not everything

Alright, when we learn a new language, of course if possible we want to have an opportunity to use the language especially in daily conversation. The problem is, before this we were quite exam-oriented, too heavy on drilling on our students (writing skills); the exam results were good but they are required to communicate (spoken English), there’s a big question mark there. That is utterly disastrous given that our graduates (are denied/rejected from employments) because of their weak communication skills. Good academic results but lack of communication skill (means nothing.)

 

The Grass is Greener

Super Minds to me is much more friendly and hands-on centered than our previous textbooks for Year 1 (KSSR 2017 revised). Not only that, it’s colorful, attractive and no lengthy texts. The previous textbook possesses around 24 units (topics) if I’m not mistaken, and frankly speaking, it was a rush to cover all the existing units – and towards the end of the year, it’s like a touch & go process for some units. (It was all because teachers were required to) Quickly cover all the (target/sight) words for there is a tendency that those words will be part of the Bahasa Inggeris LINUS test. Did you see that?

On the contrary, Super Minds textbook has only 10 Units (I add up that “Friends” unit as well as I think the unit contains legit contents about colors, numbers and greetings). And more interestingly, half of the units are going to be taught throughout Year 1, and the rest of them; 5-9 units in Year 2. Roughly, it takes one to one and a half month to teach and learn a unit, and so on. No need to rush, hence more focus (on mastery), and it’s more comprehensive.

Say it Correctly

Beginning 2018, English language subject teachers are required to be focusing on phonics only for the first month of Year 1 and the first two weeks of Year 2. As for me this year, I’m teaching Year 2, and towards finishing the two weeks, I can say that, emphasizing phonics for two consecutive weeks does make an impact, and prepare the pupils to be more ready before we progressing with other units in Super Minds.

The previous textbook was not all-bad-no-good kinda thing, but I feel that the contents were beyond Year 1 pupils’ capabilities. For example, there was one text – Kiran’s Planner, which to me was rather lengthy, not to mention that there were many 4-syllable words used throughout the script. Unlike Super Minds that promotes easier and better usage of words and texts.

 

Adapt and Adopt

Okay, let’s go back to the said problem. Ruining faith (beliefs, norms) etc. English language teachers who are teaching Year 1 and 2 should be aware of the process of adapting, and the adaptation of materials. Either they have had attended the course last year, or via the information of the subject matter that was being cascaded during in-house training at their respective schools. Actually we can do some adaptation on the materials. Remember, that Super Minds is an imported textbook, so there are elements that are not adhering to our (read, Malaysian) culture. So what is to adapt?

We can adapt the content, level, the language and process. And from that course we had been taught on how to adapt – whether to simplify, to add or discard, to modify and even reorder the activities/tasks structured in the book. For instance, there is one topic on weather, and the stimulus is a non-local map, and we discussed about it, and we agreed to configure the stimulus to Malaysian-friendly map. The adaptation process is done to make sure the contents are more contextualized and personalized to our pupils.

When the Halloween comes into the lesson, we can add more festivals (celebrated) in Malaysia, such as Chinese New Year, Thaipusam etc. And what’s the problem with Merry Christmas’ greeting card? Isn’t Malaysia multiracial? How could it (making greeting cards for Christmas celebration) shake your faith? And many of us question that why don’t we produce our own version of CEFR textbooks? Maybe at the moment we have no expertise to such, but believe me, (we will have such expertise/experts) soon, InshaAllah.

 

Rome wasn’t built overnight

Last but not least, it is safe to worry but it’s dangerous if you worry too much. We teachers who are entrusted with the implementation of this new curriculum will give our best. Give us some time and space to prove it. It’s only the second week of schooling and there were parents who were too concerned about CEFR assessments and whatnot. *facepalm* Patience is virtue. Didn’t our Education Minister recently highlighted that we should not emphasize on the number of A’s only, but rather to see the students as a whole, hence the holistic and balanced growth projected from this new approach.

Let’s gear up, English language teachers, and God bless English education for Malaysia!

Sorry for any mistakes or interpretations (modesty – this is our culture)
Mr. Qarl Haiqal

 

All-in, in the name of Education

Thank you for reading. I welcome your thoughts and opinions. =)