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Sunday September 27, 2009

The tale of a story teller

IT was a pleasant surprise for Dr Raja Mazuin Raja Abdul to see her eight-year-old son Megat Anaqi Shahriman Zaharuddin telling a story in front of a crowd at the Borders bookstore in Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur, recently.

It was the first time the usually shy and timid boy was telling a story in public.

Anaqi, looking poised and confident, as he relates the the story of Dick Whitington.

And except for one occasion where he forgot the sentence and his mother had to prompt him with a word, he completed telling the whole story without much trouble.

One would not imagine that Anaqi was previously so shy and nervous that he was bullied by schoolmates in his two previous schools.

In fact, Dr Raja Mazuin had to take him out of the schools as he was so traumatised that he refused to go to school at all.

His confidence shone through during his story-telling session, and after that, he listened attentively to another story told by Erika Ling, an assistant programme director at Scholar Base and even raised his hand to answer questions about the story.

For his correct answer, Anaqi received a present.

“That is my son?” Dr Raja Mazuin exclaimed in disbelief, before rushing forward to give him a tight hug.

“I am so proud of him!” she said, adding that it was a great feeling seeing the transformation in Anaqi.

She never thought that she would see the day her son would be able to tell a story on his own in front of a small crowd, or be able to continue to focus on another story and answer questions after that.

She is very pleased that Anaqi is no longer the passive, timid boy that he used to be.

The irony of it all is that Dr Raja Mazuin is an English language lecturer at the International Language Teacher Training Institute in Kuala Lumpur.

As a working mother, Dr Raja Mazuin said she had limited time to spend with Anaqi.

“I have no time to teach my son English,’’ she explained, which is why she sent him to Scholar Base, an English-based IQ child development and nurturing centre.

The centre’s programme director Tan Poh Lee said that she could remember the then four-year-old Anaqi was apprehensive of strangers and reluctant to enter the classroom.

Throughout his three years at Scholar Base, Anaqi slowly came out of his timid shell and began to show increasing interest and enthusiasm in class.

Anaqi (back row, second from left) is all ears during a story-telling session. - Courtesy of Scholar Base.

“Allowing him to participate in the story-telling session at Borders was to give him an opportunity to further build his confidence,’’ said Tan.

Dr Raja Mazuin was also very pleased by the story that Anaqi used — Dick Whitington — as schools no longer have English literature classes for primary and secondary school students.

“This is not those normal Pak Pandir kind of story,’’ said Dr Raja Mazuin, adding that Anaqi, a Year Two student at SRK Melawati I, also read other literary stories like The Siege of Troy at Scholar Base.

Tan said story-telling by teachers is one of the activities conducted at the centre for children who cannot read yet.

“Children, who are naturally drawn to stories, will be included in these sessions to nurture their liking of books.

“They can learn and imbibe the language from listening to the complete sentence structures read aloud.

“Once the children are able to read story books, the role is switched.

“The children will narrate the story. This time, the child will apply his understanding of sentence structure and the story while telling the story.

“Story telling benefits a child in many ways — it allows a child to express his understanding of the story, encourages active participation in the story and helps boost confidence,” she said.

Tan added that story telling also allows the expression of a child’s imagination and creativity, and helps in their way of speaking, especially in children who are from non-English speaking families.

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