Where do we go from here…

I was invited yet once again to give a talk to students, this time at the RH Hotel here in Sibu by the Academic Consultant Services, a student counselling agency here…

STP's seminar handout

Over 200 students turned up; that was about all the seminar room could accommodate…

Students at STP's seminar

As in the previous ones I presented to students in Lundu and Kota Kinabalu, the objective of the seminar was to give them the pointers and tips so that they could excel in the English Language in the coming SPM Examination.

In the adjoining room, they had an International Education Fair going on simultaneously. Here, you can see the organiser of the seminar cum education fair himself, Mr David Siong, with Mr Anthony Lim of AC Services Enterprise, Kota Kinabalu who organised the seminar there in early September and invited me over…

International Education Fair 1

There were representatives from overseas universities with local campuses like Curtin in Miri and Swinburne in Kuching, and also universities in Australia e.g. Adelaide and Gold Coast.

International Education Fair 2

International Education Fair 3

The sad thing was that many students did not go into the room to browse around the stalls and instead, they chose to loiter around the foyer. When I asked them why, they said that they could not communicate with the ang moh (red hair) as they were not proficient in the language nor could they understand what they might say.

I would not bother to dwell on the root cause of the problem (as it would only fall on deaf ears…and I would end up like the dog barking at the moon) which is clearly getting worse in Sibu. There was this girl who came up to me during the break to ask a question, speaking to me in Mandarin. I just told her that I could not speak the language, so she switched to her somewhat not-so-good Bahasa Malaysia. I replied in English and she did not seem to register much of what I said and walked away looking quite lost! I wonder why she bothered to come when she obviously could not make head or tail of anything English…and considering the plight she is in (and I’m sure there are many other students like her), I really wonder where she/they can go from here…

Thankfully, not ALL of them were like that, for instance, there was this very sweet and pretty girl from SMK Chung Hua (Sibu) who came up to the front after the talk had ended to thank me personally. I had jumped to the conclusion that she was a teacher, not because she looked old (and anyway, there are many English teachers around who look so young – like students) but she was the only one with the decency and initiative to take the trouble to come and express her appreciation. There were some others who waved and whispered ‘thank you’ when I walked past them as I was leaving…and needless to say, some would just give me the cold shoulder, pretending that they had never seen me before in their lives. It certainly makes one wonder what kind of parents they have.

There were some light snacks and coffee/tea for the university reps and I was asked to join them. Nothing much, just some fried mihun, cakes and sandwiches…

International Education Fair - sandwiches

However, I was already too exhausted after the three-hour session, so I just had coffee and left soon after that. To all the students who were there that day, good luck and may you all excel in the subject…and all the best in your future undertakings. “The river is wide; I pray that the water is kind to you in the crossing!”

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

35 thoughts on “Where do we go from here…”

  1. walao, never know u are so popular one!
    paise ar… 😦

    Not popular lah! People use me…become kerbau lah!!! Old, very old kerbau!!! LOL!!!

  2. a lot of the students are not uni. material yet those recruiters take them… end up dropping out in the first year, losing tens of thousand ringgit. greed is the word!

    Call it what you want but bizniz is bizniz! What word will you use for the parties affected then? Stupidity? Blind?…They should know that their kids are not academic material and would be better off learning some lucrative skills e.g. cooking, tailoring, hair styling etc etc etc!!!!!

    I was running the oral ENGLISH exam for students taking some UK professional courses and they must pass if they did not get a credit for ENGLISH in Form 5 (which would make them quite illiterate, in fact!!!). They would cry in front of me saying that they would have to leave if they failed again. No use! The exam was recorded and the tape sent to the UK together with the scores.

    I bent the rules and secretly let them choose the ones they wanted to speak on (actually, should be picked at random on the spot)…and I even told the teachers the topics (same ones everytime) to get them to prepare/help the students prepare texts to memorise and vomit everything out in the exam room…and what did I get in the end? NOTHING!!!!! So who do you want to blame?

    I have friends teaching ENGLISH part-time in the private universities and they get the same students every semester – 5 times a week and some are even asked to take the intensive ENGLISH course on weekends…and STILL they cannot pass to qualify and start the degree proper as they do not meet the ENGLISH requirements. So who do you want to blame?

  3. Hey, I was there with my family and of course including the sweet girl (your student) in the next room where the education fair was held! Did not know that you were there!

    She probably knew I was next door but did not tell you! Hehehehehehehe!!!

  4. In this instance..yes I believe you are being used. Educational Institutions are very commercialized now..in fact a BIG business. You want to be a part of it???…wow my immagination is running wild already liaw…”English with STP” on ASTRO next year for a start…Wow…

    It’s a case of you scratch my back, I scratch yours! Having retired, I may just fade into oblivion soon, so this is a publicity campaign for me (and I get paid for it!). Students get initimidated when they see me – so big, so fierce-looking…so through the seminars, they get a sample and they go back saying – He’s so nice…so interesting…so funny! Why else do you think my classes (very FEW from SHS!!!) are ALREADY fully booked for NEXT year…with a long waiting list???

    On ASTRO? You want me to be like Lilian Too? Getting fatter every year? Her feng shui is obviously VERY good! Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  5. Bernama: Barely seven years after it’s establishment The University of Borneo has been voted best university in South East Asia. Located in a beautiful island in The United States Of Borneo off the State of Sabah..the University was founded by a retired school teacher from Sibu…At the presentation ceremony the Sir STP accepted the Award……

    You forgot to mention that it is located on a strategic piece of land by the sea…donated by philanderer philantrophist that goes by the name of kpenyu???

  6. …and Kpenyu is the Legal Adviser and Chancellor of the prestigious university. At the ceremony, Rubberseeds was also appointed as Official Photographer of the university!

    Ooi!!! What’s this? Caught in kpenyu’s wild imaginings??? I don’t build castles in the air! Chesh!!!

  7. …and Kampua Talk as Personal Assistant-cum-Marketing Executive. LOL! No need look for job liao. Hehehehe!

    Good grief! Another one!!!….Dream on, dream on!!! Hahahahahahaha!!!

  8. …and The Borneo Post was endorsed the official newspaper of the university. One of the compulsory subjects was the cooking the yan way – the agat-agat way…

    Ooi!!! Chup! Chup!….It’s all that kpenyu’s fault!! Sparking off this gila-day dreaming! Hahahahahahahaha!!!! Come to think of it, that would be a good subject to include in the curriculum…and I will be the official examiner!!! I will get to taste all the food! LOL!!!

  9. It’s a shame that many people still can’t string a perfect sentence of English after years of attending school. The more heart-wrenching part is that when they further their tertiary education, the face problems with writing and understanding the textbooks. I think the education ministry should look into this problem especially the schools in smaller towns.

    Can’t just push everything to the ministry! There are A LOT of factors involved and the worst hurdle is the mindset of the people! Confucius said you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make it drink! Many, many factors…and many that people on the outside do not see!!! I pity the punching bags – those in the teaching line…and I wish my daughter had not followed in my footsteps! Very frustrating, very demoralising…when you work so hard and only get all the mud-slinging in the end!!!

  10. Oh god….. Kpenyu found the stash of weed. Hallucinating again. hahaha.

    Obviously!!!…Or is it the 15th on the Chinese lunar calendar already? Full moon? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  11. English in Sibu is really bad! I used to get questions like “U speak Chinese” Reluctantly I answer yes and what happens? A tirade of Foochow polutes my ear! LOL! I’m not Foochow nor my mandarin fluent (cos I only pick up the language after Form 5 and not by choice) yet I have to converse in both language becuase most people here don’t “sipik inglik”. And I have no trouble communication with Ang Moh or them with me. I even had a customer service person asked me once whether I just came back from overseas. I nearly drop on the floor laughing.

    In the early 90s, the Sibu English debaters were at par with those from Kuching or Miri, and even better! Today, I find students from the smaller towns who are even better English speakers! People should look at why Singapore got rid of the “Speak Mandarin” campaign of the 80s…..and the consequences of a policy-gone-wrong! I attended an international seminar at RELC at the time…and they were at their wit’s end…trying to contain the problems that arose.

  12. ooppss! see it’s infectious! LOL!

    Your hotel needs a part-time English trainer? I know Dynasty in Miri had one! LOL!!!

    P.S.: Why ur blog long time no update liao???

  13. *giggles* now, that’s sibu! oh well, cant blame them too right cause they obviously lack exposure..even like some of the m’sian scholars here still speak mandarin/manglish all the time n they dont seem to give a rat’s ass about whether the locals get what their saying or not..but hey,im not complaining. im koo wit it..as long as somebody doesnt fake an accent im fine. im freakin annoyed whn someone tries to u know talk like a brit or aussie especially when they just got back frm aus/nz (after a short stint) which most of the time, they fail miserably…i mean come on now!! juussttt.. come on!!! not only do i feel annoyed i feel a little embarrassed for them at the same time =.=’

    Especially when they make all sorts of grammatical or structural errors when they speak!!! So pathetic, these people!!!…Ya, just be natural and be yourself!

  14. it really is quite surprising that some students are able to get thru all the public examinations without being able to speak the english language!!

    it really makes me doubt the quality of the education system in Malaysia

    And it is even more a surprise that they can graduate from university!!! They can memorise ALL THE WAY through (for all subjects)…and in the end, we get dummies with a degree! Brain-dead zombies…who have only used that tiny part of their brains ALL their lives!!!

  15. What’s done is done, damages and all. Now the Education ministry is toying again with reverting back to teaching BM in Maths and Science…the future generation of malaysia are just mere guinea pigs. Even education is politicised! Disgusting!

    I think they should just teach everything in English,with English Language and Bahasa Malaysia lessons every day, and both languages to be mandatory credits (not mere passes) to get your public exam certificate. Back in my day (days of MCE), we had to get a credit in BM to be awarded Grade 1.

    Believe me when I say when I went overseas, the disparity in the command of english between the Sarawakians and the other malaysians were VAST, and we ended up being mistaken for Singaporeans, which was not necessarily a good thing.

    Politics is one of the many factors, and also this peculiar misplaced sense of patriotism to a foreign country!!!! Owing to the lack of exposure in the community at large, MANY cannot cope with the switch in the medium of instruction and having to learn two linguistically-VERY different languages…and yet, under political pressure, they allow them to skip transition classes (And MANY parents happily jump at it! Can save ONE WHOLE year’s expenses, they say!!!). What you all see is the tip of the iceberg! You do not see all the classes (50% or more!!!) with students who are near illiterate – English gone case, not good at BM and even their Chinese is bad, despite being able to converse fluently in it.

  16. eh… dun mention English debates pls… We had to sit out for two years coz you boycotted the competition[or for what other reason(s) you didn’t allow us to join in 98 & 99]. So sad. But I took solace in the fact that you allowed me to chair the inter-school debate in Y2K. Probably the most biased chairperson ever – biased to myself, what with correcting them on every mistakes they made. Hahaha. Oh reading this post makes me miss school so much. The only other classes better than yours were those by those very few pretty teachers we had. Hehe. Especially the substitute teacher for physics in Form Five. Friggin hot!

    Got such teachers in SHS meh? How come I never noticed? Hahahahahahaha!!!!!

  17. Even Singaporeans aren’t that great in English. Depends which school they are from. I remember having to sit for an english test when i first entered college. The test results would determine which english class you’ll go to. So when the results came out, most of the spore educated kids were sent to a class different from mine. And i thought… damn, i’m going to the lousy class. haha… it was actually the opposite, they ended up in the lousy class. so my impression on spore education changed there and then.

    Those must be the product of the 80s. In the end, the ministry had to change the whole English syllabus (from PETS to PEP)…to make it easier!!! In the end, they scaped the campaign (when the ruling party lost in seats where the opponents campaigned in Hokkien!!).

  18. The first test we normally conduct for the Transition classes is the write the alphabet and numbers 1 to 10 in words. Eh, pls dont laugh….. you will be surprise to know at least 1/3 of them cannot do it.

    In the 70s, in transition classes, the focus was teaching the language (English)…no matter what subject it was, solely the language involved, to get them ready to join the mainstream English-medium classes!

  19. It is very encouraging to know that people like u exist n is trying to help students do their best that they could. U mentioned that some students just didn’t acknowledge u at all but sometimes it maybe that they could be shy or not confident enough to speak to the teachers or the ‘angmohs’ there. Social etiquette is something that is not inherited automatically but it can be developed n also encouraged or motivated in a positive way but sadly I think there are situations when more is emphasise on the academic skills rather than the social skills where in reality in life ideally we all hope we can be an all rounder but then there is no such thing as 100% perfect person but it helps to be a bit of this n that. So STP, give the people who do not have the courage to come n talk to u a chance for maybe they did not know that u r a gentle giant at heart after all! N maybe u can even start a social etiquette class where u can teach them the proper manners like ‘Nee How’or that song from long long ago in our schooldays, it goes like this, there’s a malay gentleman, full of impression,with a songkok on his head,standing by the road…i think that is a good song to learn yr english n some conversational skills from there!LOL! Can u remember the full lyrics?!

    Dunno the song. In my school, I would insist on these basic manners…otherwise, I would give them a piece of my mind (and my bark is worse than my bite!!!) so all those I taught would be pleasantly well-mannered…but most people don’t bother…

  20. Wah, it is that time of the year again where parents run around to see what is the next step for their children and the kids are not even bothered. This year I relax.

    Not that the kids are not bothered. They have never been taught to bother. From kindy (or earlier), the doting mums would do everything, decide everything…!!! You won’t believe the wimps we have nowadays!!! I think Pink Floyd has to change the lyircs to their song, “Mothers, leave those kids alone!!”

  21. yeah yeah, our education system is f’ed up and yet, theres still a report like this http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/10/7/nation/2201214&sec=nation .. this is what i call a severe denial syndrome..at first i thot it was a parody but im wrong..wakeup la wei 😦 *shakes head*)

    Why would anyone bother to read the crap in the papers? Just pulling wool over people’s eyes and people concerned behaving like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand! Nothing much is gonna change or happen!! I’m sure many will agree with me on this!!!

  22. Hahahaha…not easy for the students to pass leh if you are the Chief food Examiner..
    BREAKING NEWS: STP fails Top Student for not knowing the difference between Kolo vs Kampua…hahaha. Need to drown those sandwiches with A1 curry la.

    Still delirious from the weeds, are you? Or don’t tell me we have to wait till the moon’s not full??? LOL!!!

  23. STP, so what’s going to happen to these group of almost illiterate kids that you mentioned? The country is going backwards, horror of horrors, is the reality eh? I still think the best brains in the country left and is contributing to other foreign countries. My son is already saying he’s not coming back when he finishes tertiary education.

    In the meantime the so-called leaders of the country are battling out their respective percentages of the pie that’s supposed to belong to the whole nation. Downright mess.

    Well, life goes on!!! The mess can either get better or messier. Wasn’t Bush in his younger days on weeds like kpenyu too? LOL!!!

  24. Errrmm…not implying son has “best brain”…but has slightly more than Winnie the Pooh lah…. LOL!

    Poor thing! I find that the street smart kids who do not go for tuition 24 hrs, bury their faces in their books…in the end do much better once they step out into the real world!!! Of course, must study and work a bit lah!!! Right or not, Gilbert??? Mack? You were no bookworm either, were you? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  25. The sad thing is we don’t own crystal balls and so students can’t see what they’d become once they leave school. majority can’t see beyond what spm.
    During the recent trial exam, students were required to write a formal letter asking for permission to visit a factory. Among the answers given were : ‘ At the factory, we would like to see the machine punish the pineapple and see the how the pineapple tree grow. We will be wearing there by bus school’. This is probably one of the few students that I hope would pass the exam considering the fact that at least there is a sentence.

    No way! With so many errors! Even the sense/meaning is wrong. And that is such a LONG sentence!!! 1st thing they look for is accuracy – correct sentences, however simple! That’s why I encourage the weak students to write as many short sentences as possible like: This is very good/nice. We will be very happy. When there is a lot of accuracy, they can at least sneak up to a D or perhaps even a C…and my batch last year obviously did! The worst in 3 classes got a C5!

  26. Wow, stp, maybe next time ask the angmoh to “colour their hair black” then the students might dare to approach them. kakaka..

    Many of the students are also angmoh what…especially during the holidays or once they have left school, just that they can’t speak a word of English.

  27. Many people in the corporate world are complaining to me the problem they have with young graduates communicating in poor English. Need to improve our Education system.

    I would not say it’s just the education system. The general public will just pinpoint that as the problem but there are many, many factors which I choose not to mention. If you’re inside, you can see things more clearly. And among the major factors that need to change is the whole society’s mindset including the parents’ obsession with exams and a string of As, their attitude towards languages and so on.

  28. What weed????..only the hangover from Raya holidays. At least I don’t recomend people to Shake Head..gilbert..you mean estacy???hahahahaha joke joke joke.gerrie: just realised that Winnie the Pooh is male and his wife is called Pooh Boh..hahahah…and his children Pooh Boh Kia..hahahaha

    Haiz!!! Still delirious, I see!

  29. i’m not talking just about the english course. the uni. should give some proficiency test to weed out those not qualified to enter uni… knowing the malaysian marking system of curving the grades to make everything hunky-dory, but most uni. are just welling to take the money first, and “ho-ee-lang-kee-si” take its course. like you said, a lot couldn’t even sail thu’ foundation course, not just because of languages, but other subjects as well.

    They have the minimum qualifications but they should know themselves whether they are up to it or not. Nobody’s forcing them to come!!! Let’s say I run a shop selling shoes…but you have no feet and yet you wanna buy. U think I will not sell to you?….Can’t blame the institutions here, but I have heard of cases where eg. 20 passed, but the people at the top said just pass 10 of them…as they wanted them to stay on and study and pay more money!!! That, I would say, is most unethical! When the lecturers found out, all of them resigned in disgust at the way things were run!!!…The place closed down eventually! Can’t mention names!

  30. U ever heard of the one where Winnie climbs up the pole? Pooh Kie Tiang! hehe

    Ooi! Rancangan ini sesuai bagi semua lapisan masyarakat! LOL!!!

  31. STP = more courses can be conducted as you can create opportunities out of the chaos that we are experiencing :
    1. English PR course for Parents (How to talk to teachers
    2. English PR course for students (How to talk to teachers)
    3. Course on How to Ask Questions and Get Answers without Fear in English in a Public Forum
    4. How to take notes in English.
    5. How to Communicate in English.
    6. How to develop Positive Body Language and Reduce Hatred in your Class.

    I will reserve my other comments.

    You have opened a Pandora’s Box.

    So happy to read all the good comments!! It only shows we are seeing a lot of cracks and crap….are we crabs walking sideways?

    Pandora’s Box indeed!!! I’d better write a new post quickly and publish it, so I can get out of here!!!! As far as I am concerned, the weaker they are in English…the better it is for me!!! I can be assured of packed classes for years and years to come! LOL!!!

  32. Being average in secondary sch does not mean you cannot go higher in tertiary ed. I know one young lady (name mentioned) who managed to score 0 in A Maths school test. Guess what…. last I heard she would probably go for Phd soon.

    Oh? Don’t tell me it was that monkey up in the tree in my next post? Go do PhD??? Not going to kahwin kah? Hahahahahahahaha!!!!

  33. typo, i mean no name. She will probably own up

    If she’s the one I mentioned earlier, wasn’t the brother even more terror? Hahahahahahahahaha!!!! Now doing ok what…just not in a hurry to kahwin as well!!! LOL!!!

  34. Colleges and universities only care about business right? Doesn’t matter if students qualified for the courses or not. So sad English standard still so low among Malaysian students.
    You can’t speak Mandarin? Join the gang, man!: ) I can’t speak either although I’m trying to learn. China is coming up and everywhere people is trying to learn Mandarin.

    I don’t have anything to do with China…and I don’t intend to go there either…ever! Anyway, I heard that people there can’t understand the Chinese spoken by the people here…because the accent is different. I can communicate (not very well) in the language should the need arise, but I will never use it when speaking to students!!! Bad enough that nobody else speaks English to them!!!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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