Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Pearl

1 Read the question carefully. If there are two parts, answer both parts.

2 Use only one tense throughout. E.g. If you start with the present tense, continue the rest of the essay. Check for grammatical errors.

Here are some questions to think about

1 Describe an event in the novel you have read which teaches you a life lesson?
(Plot and Moral value)
Key words: Describe event; life lesson

Example: Describe the event where Kino hits his wife...lesson you learn - one should not abuse our spouse

2 Describe an event in the novel you have read which portrays a theme of the novel?
Key words: describe event; theme

Describe the event where the doctor comes to see Kino the minute he hears that Kino has found the Pearl of the World..he frightens Kino into allowing him to treat Coyotito...he gives a capsule of white powder to Coyotito and goes home. The white powder makes Coyotito sick. He comes back in an hour and gives him three drops of ammonia to make him better. He asks for payment...pretending not to know about the pearl...

Theme - greed

Monday, November 16, 2009

THIS IS IT!!!!!!


1 Do not spend too much time on this section and neglect continuous writing.

2 Spend some time preparing first before you start writing:
i. Task: what is required of you? Formal letter? Informal? article? report? etc
ii. Tone: Formal or informal
iii.Points given: count the number of points given
If it is less than 12, are you required to elaborate or add your own points?
iv. Vocabulary: think of some apt vocab to add into your writing.
Do not overuse proverbs or idiomatic expressions.
v. Check for grammatical errors..past tenses/present tenses or future tenses
3 Do not count the number of words. One and a half page should suffice.

For trial exam questions, go to http://koleksisoalan.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Question for practice

Describe a decision that is made by one of the characters in the novel that you have read and how this decision changed the rest of his life and others around him.


1 Describe the decision
For example: Kino decided not to sell his pearl to the pearl buyers and
decided to go to the capital...(give more details)

2 Discuss how this decision changed the rest of his life

- how he punched and kicked Juana
- killed a man
- they had to leave La Paz
- house was burnt down, canoe destroyed
- eventually hunted by trackers
- lost Coyotito

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Questions on Character

Which character do you dislike? Give reasons with close reference to the text.


Character you dislike: The Doctor

Describe the doctor - of a race who had mistreated Kino's race for over 400 years


ignorant doctor - does clumsy abortions - everyone has seen his corpses being sent to the church; only treats the rich in the town

selfish and greedy - refuses to treat Coyotito because Kino had only eight misshapen ugly pearls to pay him - but when he heard that Kino had found the pearl of the world, he claimed that Kino is a client of his and immediately came to Kino's house

cruel - frightens Kino into allowing him to treat Coyotito - gives Coyotito a capsule of white powder which made him sick - came back in a hour and treated him with 3 drops of ammonia. Then, he demanded payment, pretending not to know about the pearl.

Friday, October 23, 2009

25000 hits and more

we celebrate 25000 hits today with a new look....we have come a long way....thanks for all the interest and support. do take time to make comments or ask questions so that this blog can be of help...and spread the buzz around about this blog....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Past years' questions on The Pearl

2001 Which character do you like best? Give reasons to support your answer.
2002 Write a detailed account of an event in the novel which teaches you an important moral lesson
2003 Which character do you sympathise with in the novel you have studied. Explain why you sympathise with this character. Support your answer with evidence from the novel
2004 Choose an event in the novel you have studied which you find to be the most memorable. Give reasons for your choice and with close reference to the text, discuss the event.
2005 Love is important in a family. Discuss how this is shown in the novel.
2006 The writer describes the main character as a very determined person. Using the details from the
novel, write about
- some instances that show the character’s determination
- how the determination affects his/her family.
2007 - Describe a character you admire and give reasons.
2008 - Do you like the ending of the novel you have studied? Give reasons for you choice with close reference to the text.

2009 - ??????????????? Theme???? Moral lesson?????

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Perak Trial Exam -= The Pearl

The Trial Exam question on The Pearl was:
Describe an important event
Give reasons why you choose the event


There are two parts to the task given. First, to describe an important event and second, give reasons why you chose that event as the most important.

Important event - when Kino found the greatest pearl
(Describe this event, not mere mention of the event)
Reasons: give at least two reasons.
The most important event is when Kino found the greatest pearl of the world. He had felt very dejected and angry toward the doctor who refused to treat his son, Coyotito because he did not have money. So, early in the morning, he had set out for the sea with Juana, with much hope. He dived into the sea and as he was young, he could remain underwater a long time. Suddenly, he spotted a very large oyster and got a glimpse of a shiny object within. He opened the smaller oysters first and found nothing. Then, he opened the large oyster and there, he found, a large pearl, as big as a seagull's egg, perfect as the moon. Kino gave a loud scream, overcome with emotion.
I chose this event as the most important event because the finding of the pearl triggered many other events. This event was the start of all of Kino's troubles and finally, he would lose his son while trying to protect the pearl from the trackers.

Besides, this event also revealed the true character of Kino, who became very stubborn and refused to let go of the pearl even though he was warned repeatedly by Juana that the pearl was evil. Juan Tomas, also warned him about going against the system.
Finally, this event revealed the greed of the many people of La Paz. Immediately after he found the pearl, Kino had a visit from the priest who hoped to get some donation from him. Then, the doctor came to visit, frightening Kino to allow him to treat Coyotito who by then had become well again. He even offered to keep the pearl for Kino. Even the pearl buyers also collaborated to cheat Kino.

Comments: This answer fulfills the task set. The event is described in detail and three reasons given. Many students just described the event without giving reasons, or some just mention the event and citing many reasons. Marks will be deducted for that.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Pearl

The Pearl

When answering the essay question for the novel, always give three points with elaboration. For example, if you are asked to write about the character you dislike and give reasons to support your answer. Your rough plan would look like the notes I have made below:

1. Character you dislike
The doctor
1. he oppressed the poor and uneducated. he was of a race which for nearly four hundred years had bullied and despised Kino’s race
- when Kino came to ask him to treat his son who had been stung by a scorpion, he said, “Have I nothing better to do than to cure insect bites for little Indians. I am a doctor, not a veterinary.” Here, he implied that Kino’s race are animals.
- Demanded money before he wanted to treat Kino’s baby – turned it down when he saw only eight ugly misshapen pearls.
2. greedy- demanded moneywhen he heard that Kino had found the Pearl of the World, he claimed that Kino was his client. He also thought of Paris,his mistress and all the pleasures he would enjoy. He plotted to get the pearl. He visited Kino….
- frightened Kino into letting him treat Coyotito who was already better by telling him that the sting would suddenly become worse and sometimes there will be a withered leg or a blind eye
- Gave a capsule of white powder which made Coyotito sick and came back an hour later and gave him three drops of ammonia……demanded payment. Tried to read Kino’s eyes to see where he was hiding the pearl.
3. cruel – caused Coyotito to be sick for the sake of getting the pearl and he also conducted clumsy abortions, causing many to die. Also an ignorant doctor and a glutton, villagers refer to him as a fat lazy doctor.

Another question to try.

Do you like the ending of the story. Describe the ending of the story and state your reasons.

Describe the ending : Kino killed all the trackers cold-bloodedly but in the process, Coyotito was shot. The tracker thought that the baby’s cry was a coyote and he shot at the direction of the cry. At the same time, Kino attacked him and killed them all. He returned sadly with Juana to the village and he threw the pearl away.

I like the ending
1 Kino has learnt his lesson – finaly he had to let the pearl go because it had caused him to lose his son even tho he had said that the pearl had become his soul – repeatedly warned by Juana that his pearl is evil but he refused to listen.
2 Good triumph over evil – all manner of people grew interested in the pearl but no one could get hold of it in the end, not the pearl buyers, the doctor, the attackers and the trackers.
3 There was a closure for Kino as he had to throw the pearl back into the sea himself – signifying the end of his pursuit and his dream.

Dislike the ending because:

1. Coyotito died in the fighting – he was innocent but he was killed…..(describe the fight)
2. Kino did not succeed in improving his life and he had lost everything- his house which was burnt down, his canoe – the source of his income was destroyed and finally, he lost his only son.
3. no mention about what became of the doctor – got away with his cruelty….(had done so much harm but nothing happened to him)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Have a happy working holiday

This week is crucial to those who are sitting for their spm trial exam next week. Take a break this weekend and get cracking on Monday morning. Work relentlessly the next week, taking small breaks. Sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed, but do not get discouraged. One bird at a time, one chapter at a time.....it is just like the ice block..keep chipping away, changing chisel here and there..and finally you will get a beautiful ice sculpture.
Many of my students have asked me for some hints as to what is coming out for the trial exam. I told them if they knew, then it would not be a trial. I would rather they go into the exam not knowing what's going to come out so that they could really be tested.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

How to start your essay?

I am sure many of you have a problem in starting your essay. Many of my students take a long time to start their introduction or worse, they use the overused intro.:
Everyone in this world has a friend......
Everyone in this world love to watch television..

Your introduction must be something that grabs people’s attention. Use the following ideas:
1 Use some startling information or fact
Start with a pertinent fact that explicitly illustrates the point you wish to make. Then, elaborate with a sentence or two.
Topic: Teenagers and their problems
o A recent survey on teenagers provided some food for thought for parents. It was found that about 70 per cent of them smoked, 40 per cent watched pornographic videos and 14 per cent took drugs.Several factors have been identified as contributing to these problems.
2 Use an anecdote
An anecdote is a short story that illustrates a point.
Topic: The loafing syndrome among teenagers
Raj and his friends do not go home after school. They hang out daily at a shopping complex to while their time away. There, they join many other students from other schools. Sometimes, they play some video games or just enjoy each other’s company. Raj and his friends are just the tip of the iceberg of the loafing syndrome among teenagers.
3 Dialogue
Use an appropriate dialogue to start your story or convey a point. Use only two or three exchanges between speakers to make your point.
Topic: An unforgettable incident
“Help! Someone just snatched my purse!” The screams shattered the still of the night. Suddenly, lights were switched on and heads popped out of doors and windows. “Hey, what’s the matter?”
4 Use a question
You can also use a rhetorical question which jolts people into attention.
Topic: Reduce, reuse and recycle
Did you know that Malaysians throw away 1.2 million tonnes worth of newspapers daily? For every ten newspapers bought, only four are recovered for recycling. Thus, the government spearheaded a recycling campaign to encourage Malaysians to separate their waste.
Topic: Coping with peer pressure
What choice do you have if your friends are pressuring you to do something which you think is wrong? Would you walk away? Are you able to say ‘no’?
5 Use a definition
Define your topic.
Topic: Gawai Dayak Festival
In Sarawak, the word Gawai is the equivalent to a Festival. Numerous Gawais are celebrated throughout the year by the State’s indigenous people but Gawai Dayak marks the end of the harvest season and heralds a new year.
6 Use a quotation
Topic: How to save water
It is better to be safe than to be sorry. That is the message of the environmentalists to those who take water for granted. For one day, we may be faced with the situation whereby there is not enough water for everyone. Thus, we should take steps to save water.
7 Use a general statement
Use a general statement about your topic, then narrow it to a specific point of view.
Topic: Ways to reduce pollution
Of late, there has been increasing concern with the impact of pollution on the environment and our society. The public outcry over the various environmental disasters in our own country should be lauded. How do we resolve these problems?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Descriptive essay

Describe an afternoon at the bus station (SPM 97)

It was two o’clock in the afternoon. I was heading towards the bus station with Mohan after Mrs Wong’s extra class. The sun was beating mercilessly on my back and I could feel my sweat trickling down my spine. I have often wished that my mother would allow me to ride a motorcycle to school. She says that I am not ready but we both know that she is terrified that a car would knock me down.
When I reached the bus station, it was nearly empty except for a handful of boys. Mohan and I strode to a bench near the stationmaster’s office. I could feel the tension on my shoulders as the straps of my school bag ate into my shoulder. “Where is the bus?” I sighed to myself. An elderly woman came and asked me where I was going. She started a conversation but gave up after my monosyllable answers.
Suddenly, someone shouted and I saw a bus swerved into the station. I got up, thankful for the chance to escape from the woman. . It was Mohan’s bus. The group of boys were jostling each other to get into the bus. “Masuk! Masuk!” shouted the conductor but nobody seemed to be moving. The black fumes made me nauseous. All of a sudden, people started appearing from all directions to board their bus. In no time, the passengers were packed like sardines in the bus. It started to move, leaving some unfortunate passengers behind. I waved at Mohan when I noticed him dangling on the steps of the bus. The bus swerved out of the station again. It left another trail of black smoke.
I decided to go to Panjang’s ice stall. The iced sugar cane juice soothed my parched throat as I sipped slowly, all the while keeping an eye on the bus. Then I saw the bus heading towards the station. I paid for my drinks. “See you tomorrow,” I waved to Panjang.
Once more, the crowd began to swell near the bus. I noticed that the elderly woman was being shoved around by the boys. She started hitting them with her umbrella. Then, I saw Raja, my classmate at the back of the bus. I hurled my bag through the window and he caught it. By the time I got into the bus, it had already started moving. I got into my seat and told myself that I must really try to convince my mother about the motorcycle again.
(415 words)
(SPM Essential English, Pearson by Jenny Tan)


Apart from the common words such as nice and beautiful, there are other words which you can use to describe a place or scene.

Marvellous time
Terrific place
Exciting activities
Breathtaking beach
Magnificent buildings
Fascinating sunset
Spectacular view
Picturesque beach
Delightful play
Inspiring show
Thrilling performance
Panoramic view
Captivating sight
Relaxing room
Lively town
Vibrant people
Delicious food
Mouth-watering desserts

Unpleasant day
Dull show
Nerve-wrecking journey
Awful time
Dreadful room
Depressing scene
Disappointing show
Miserable time
Frustrating weather
Upsetting news
Tiring event
Crowded room
Chaotic roads
Deserted town
Crammed room
Feel discontented
Boring film

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We are on facebook!!!!!!!!

Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/spm-english-1119-with-Jenny-Ho/ and become a fan or just to ask questions regarding spm english 1119. I hope to get other teachers to join as well.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Descriptive Essays

In the next few weeks, I would be posting some excellent essays written by my students.

My Best Pal
Close friendships are hard to come by these days. In an ever-changing world with people striving to achieve their interpretation of preordained success, it is hard to know who your true friends are. Fortunately, I found my best pal early at the tender age of seven. We were both enrolled at the same school and were at wits’ ends as we searched tirelessly for our designated classes.
Samantha and I got acquainted as both of us were in the same class and sat next to each other. Samantha was a happy-go-lucky girl who always managed to breathe fresh air into the sometimes arid classroom. She always knew what to say and would voice them at the best possible moments. Both pupils and teachers alike enjoyed her company and liveliness. There was hardly ever a dull moment when she was around with her funny quips and expressions.
Samantha was born with a silver spoon. Her father was a businessman and her mother owned and ran a boutique. Both her parents were very caring towards her as she, just like I, was the only child of the family. Samantha came to school each day with a perpetual smile. She was a very nice person to be around with. She and I used to go everywhere together and both of us were rarely seen apart. We used to talk about so many things as we walked, thoroughly enjoying our time together.
One day, I went to school and forgot to ask my parents for lunch money. At first, I was not hungry and thought I could bear going without a meal but soon, my stomach began to growl. Without asking, Samantha generously paid for my meal and drinks during recess. The incident revealed to me how lucky I was to have such a caring and compassionate friend.
As time went on, people started teasing us as we were spending more and more time together. We seemed to know what each other thought and we cared for each other deeply. Was I in love with her? I did not know then and we both knew we were too young for all that emotional roller coaster.
Currently, Samantha and I are studying at different schools. It was hard to be apart at first, but technology in the form of instant messaging and e-mails have helped to bridge the gap in our friendship. I sincerely wish our friendship will never end as it would be equivalent to waking up from a beautiful dream.

Written by, Manu Menon (2007) (edited version)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Directed Writing

You will be required to write the following:
1 Letters - Formal
2 Report - for a survey, for a school magazine/newsletter

3 Articles

4 Speech

5 Description of an event/person/place

6 Recount (e.g. retelling of events in a diary)

The first thing you need to know is the format for each of the above for they garner about 3 marks.

Letter - the usual addresses, date, salutation, etc should be there. You should sign off with "Yours faithfully" for formal letters and not 'Yours sincerely'.

Salutations: Dear Sir or Dear Madam or Dear Edmund

For informal letters: Dear Susan,

For report, follow the format given by the textbook.

Title of the report

End with:

Reported by:
Jenny Ho
English Society

For articles:

Title of article

By: Jenny Ho

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tips for Summary Writing

1 Read the text once through and try to get a gist of what the text is all about.
2 Read the question and determine the task; look out for words like
feelings, response, what you saw and did, benefits, problems, advantages and
3 Do not try to rephrase if you are not very good in English. It is better to
select intelligently and join the sentences with connectors.
4 Content = 10 marks Language = 5 marks
So, it is better to go for content. If the sentences are lifted intelligently,
you will get about 2 marks for language.
5 Memorise some synonyms as they are useful to replace single words. This will
help you get more marks for language.
6 Do keep within the word limit as points after 130 words are not taken into

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Some of the journals from my class as promised....hope you get inspired too

As you can see, some of the journals starts with a word collage. If you find it too frightening to start with an empty page, decorate the page first....

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Join us in our journalling project

As you may have read in my previous posts, I am a great believer in journal writing to help students improve in their writing. My class has just finished a 30-day writing journal and we have started a new one. We are going to spend some time decorating our journal cover. We will also use pictures from magazines and drawings to decorate the pages. I hope to posts some of the students' journal here.

I have copied another 30 writing prompts for them and you can copy and paste it into your journal.

Journal Prompts
Take a prompt each day and respond to it in your journal.
Write as long as you can.
1 Write about someone who influenced your day today.
2 What are some of the traits you most dislike about your mom?
3 What are those those things you love about your mom?
4 What are some of the traits you most dislike about your dad?
5 What are those those things you love about your dad?
6 Write about what your dream life would be.
7 Write about what your dream job
8 Write about your best friend
9 Write about your worst enemy
10 What was your most embarrassing moment, describe in detail.
11 Write about a time when you lied to save yourself. Describe what happened.
12 Write about your grandfather or grandmother
13 As you grow up how have you changed emotionally?
14 If given a chance, what country would you like to visit and why?
15 Make a list of the top 10 cool things in your life
16 What is something you disagree with your parents?
17 Why do you REALLY have to go to school?
18 If you could change one thing about school, what would it be?
19 Make a list of the top 10 values or beliefs you have.
20 Write about 5 life lessons that your mother taught you
21 What is something you would NEVER do, no matter what.
22 What could your best friend talk you into doing?
23 You win the lottery, what then? What would you do with your life?
24 In a storm, you lose all your belongings, and possessions, write how that might feel.
25 Imagine you are dying, who would you deeply talk to, and what would you say?
26 If you have one year to live, what would you like to do?
27 Write about a time you felt rejected
28 Make a list of 10 nice things you would like to do for yourself
29 Write about a teacher who has inspired you when you were young
30 Describe the qualities of your future life partner
31 Describe your ideal bedroom
32 Describe your ideal house
33 What would you do if you were to inherit RM1 million?
34 How would you like to spend your birthday?
35 Write about three interesting characters in your class
36 Collect something from nature today and write about it
37 Who do you talk to when you have a problem?
38 What is your advice to those younger than you?
39 List down the things that you are thankful for in your life
40 Which is least important to you--money, power, fame--and why?

How can I help you?

I have received some requests thus far thru e-mails and comments. One would like to know how to write essays. Someone asked me to mark his essay. Another has a question on literature. Others are searching for past-year questions. I have dealt with some topics in the older posts. So, check it out. However, for those who are sitting for their exam soon, how can I help you? Click on comments or visit my guest page and make your request.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Using prefixes

Challenger 3 Prefixes

This week, write down a prefix such as ex- or dis-
and see how many words you can make from that prefix.
For example:

external, extrinsic, exterior, extraordinary, extrabiblical, extracurricular, extrapolate, extraneous, exterminator, extract, extradite, extraterrestrial, extrasensory, extravagant, extreme.....

Next, look up 'prefixes and suffixes' on the internet and copy them into your vocabulary notebook. Review what you have learnt.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Challenger 2

I hope you have completed Challenger 1 in your vocabulary notebook.

Challenger 2
Write down 20 phrases or useful chunks that you come across through your reading. If you are not reading anything interesting, then, you will have to search actively in the magazines and newspapers.

I have just finished reading Marley and Me by John Grogran. Some useful chunks that I have collected in my journal are:

1 my perseverance paid off
2 prized possession
3 hard, unrestrained, from-the-gut sobbing
4 rambunctious, wired dog
5 I slinked around town self-consciously, convinced all eyes were on me. My ears burned imagining people talking about me.

After you have collected these chunks, try to use them in your own writing. Soon, these phrases will become a part of you.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Vocabulary Challenger 1

This week, I will be giving you a series of challenges which will help you develop your vocabulary.

Challenger 1:

Know Your Verbs

Can you name a verb for every alphabet from A - Z?

A - adopt

B - buy

C -

Alternatively, you can also play this game with your friends.

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Vocabulary Notebook

Finally, now that you have all the sections for your vocabulary book, it is time to put it into good use. Of course, the first thing to do is to always make sure your vocabulary notebook follows you to school. Everytime you learn a new word, decide which section the word should be recorded. Is it an idiom, a proverb or a new word? When you are at home, look at the notebook and see how you can add to it. Is there a synonym or antonym of a word you can check out? Can you draw a mindmap out of new word you have just learnt? Do this for three weeks in a row and you would have formed a new habit.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Useful chunks

One of the fastest way to learn English is see how good writers write. Have a special section called 'useful chunks' where you copy down interesting words and phrases each time you read the newspaper, articles from magazines or essays. These useful chunks show you how the words are used and comes in handy when you write your essays. I am not saying you should copy whole chunks into your essay. That is plagiarism. Rather, you should read those phrases and let it sink into your memory and become part of your working vocabulary.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Synonyms, antonyms and context

Thus far, we have seen a few strategies to increase our vocabulary. Another section to include in your vocabulary book or journal is synonyms, antonyms and context. Usually, whenever a student comes across a new word, they are encouraged to write down the meaning of the word. I would say that you should go beyond that. The definition of a word is only the BEGINNING level of understanding. To FULLY understand and internalize word meanings and be able to use words correctly IN CONTEXT, Learn SYNONYMS for the new words, learn ANTONYMS,and the diffferent ways the word is used.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Another section to include is 'Useful Lists'. Copy a list of common proverbs and their meanings in this section. This list comes in useful when you are writing an essay and you can spice up your essay with an appropriate proverb.

For example: As the saying goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Therefore, it is important that a student takes time out to relax and enjoy.

Some common proverbs can be downloaded from www.englishclub.com/

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Hello everyone! I just want to thank everyone who has been visiting and following this blog. I noticed that the number of hits is almost close to 100 a day. I would appreciate it if visitors could sign my guestbook or give comments to help me improve this site.
Now, back to keeping a vocabulary notebook. I hope you have bought your new vocab book.

The next section to create in your notebook is collocations. Collocations refer to words that go together.
An example of a verb + noun collocation is:

Can you keep an eye on my bag while I buy something?

Now, try to complete the blanks below:

If you _______ a mistake, just erase it off.
You should _______ a chance and _____ for his help.
He ______ his temper easily when he is tired.
He should ____ more attention to his children at home.

Next, how many collocations can you list for the following verbs:

make, have, take


make amends
make an application

have an argument

take action

You can add to the list by searching online. This list of collocations are important when answering the cloze test in the exam as well as when writing your essays.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Improving your vocabulary with vocabulary trees

Starting this week, I will be doing a series on how to improve your vocabulary. The first thing you need to do is to get your vocabulary book done. Buy any notebook but I would prefer to get one with a hardcover as it would last longer. It should be handy to carry around with you. This notebook will be your buddy for the rest of your academic year.

The next thing that you should do is to divide the vocabulary book into a few sections. I will be introducing the various sections of your vocabulary book as we go along, so make sure you come back to check it out. The first section will be called Vocabulary Trees. Some may prefer to call it Mind-maps.

Draw the word 'school' in the middle of the page. Draw branches out of the word 'school' and list down words that come to your mind as you think about school.

Vocabulary trees help students remember words thematically. These words will be more useful to you than individual words and their meanings. If you just keep a list of words and their meanings, 50% of these words are usually not used at all.

Now, do a vocabulary tree for the following themes
(a) vehicles
(b) Cameron Highlands
(c) Examinations
(d) Computers

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Joining English Society

Many students shy away from joining the English Society in school because they feel that their English is not 'powerful' enough. I always encourage my students who are in my class to be a member by making those whom I teach as automatic members. So, if I teach 5 classes of English, nearly 100 over students are members. Whenever we organise any activity, we open it to other students too.
Last Saturday, we had a fun day with DZ's race. It's something like the Amazing Race. Students are given a set of instructions and they have to run around the whole school to complete the tasks.
When you take part in such activities, you are unconsciously learning English. There are many other interesting activities which are organized by teachers.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


In the SPM ENGLISH 1119, you are required to answer a stuctured question on one poem. You will be tested on your understanding of the poem and you are also required to give your opinion to issues raised. One way to prepare for the exam for poems is to paraphrase the poem, making sure you understand all the difficult words.
I found a useful paraphrase while surfing and I would like to share it with teachers and students alike.

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Shall I compare you to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
You are more lovely and more delightful:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
Rough winds shake the much loved buds of May
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
And summer is far too short:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
At times the sun is too hot,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; Or often goes behind the clouds;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
And everything that is beautiful will lose its beauty,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
By chance or by nature's planned out course;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
But your youth shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor lose the beauty that you possess;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
Nor will death claim you for his
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
Because in my eternal verse you will forever:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long as there are people on this
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
So long will this poem live
on, giving you immortality.

[Line 9]* - The friend's 'summer' or 'prime of life' will remain eternal because the poet immortalizes him in verse. Lines 10-14 confirm this reading. For more on this theme, see sonnet 55.

[Line 12]* - Because of the poet's verse the friend will actually grow as one with time ("to time thou growest"). For similar imagery, see sonnet 15, line 14.

Sonnet 18 is perhaps the best known and most well-loved of all 154 poems. It is also one of the most straightforward in language and intent. The stability of love and its power to immortalize the poetry and the subject of that poetry is the theme. The poet starts the praise of his dear friend without ostentation, but he slowly builds the image of his friend into that of a perfect being. His friend is first compared to summer in the octave, but, at the start of the third quatrain (9), he is summer, and thus, he has metamorphosed into the standard by which true beauty can and should be judged. The poet's only answer to such profound joy and beauty is to ensure that his friend be forever in human memory, saved from the ultimate oblivion that accompanies death. He achieves this through his verse, believing that, as history writes itself, his friend will become one with time (or, more informally, keep up to time). The couplet reaffirms the poet's hope that as long as there is breath in mankind, his poetry too will live on, and ensure the immortality of his muse.

Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18. Shakespeare Online. 2000. (day/month/year you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/18detail.html >.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another way to improve your English is to keep a vocabulary notebook. You can get a special alphabetised note book or you can make your own note book. Each time your teacher teaches and a new word crops up, copy the word and its meaning into your vocabulary book. Bring it along with you everywhere and while you are waiting for the bus or waiting for a tv programme to start, just take it out to review it. Look at the way the word is used and how it is spelt. Draw mind-maps and pictures to help you remember. Use colours creatively to make the notebook special.
The last tip in building vocabulary is to use the new words you have learnt in your essays or in your journal. Remember to look up new words in your dictionary. Jot down the correct usage and sentences. Begin to use these words in your composition.Before long, you will certainly notice that you have increased your vocab and your English has improved.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Journal your year

To the new form five students, this is your year. You are either all fired up about this year or you are rather apprehensive. Some of you have made new year resolutions to improve your English. There are several types of journals that you can do to kickstart your progress.

1 Keep a newspaper journal.
Cut an article and just paste it into your newspaper journal. Look up three new words and their meanings. Do this project for thirty days. Look out for advertisements, short texts, cartoon strips and letters.

2 Keep a journal or diary
Begin to write in your journal once a day. Keep a special time for this.. I prefer to write before I go to sleep. I just jot down everything in my mind, my worries, my problems, ideas and things to do. Just keep on writing until you feel sleepy.

3 Keep a journal of the happenings in school or blog about school. This will help you express yourself.

Happy journalling. Let me know your progress.
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