Striving for excellence

  • Education
  • Sunday, 29 May 2016

I write this to thank the many teachers who played a part in making me the person I am today, including my dearest mother whom I am most grateful to.

She was instrumental in getting me to pursue the TESL (Teaching English as a second language) degree.

Despite living in Hulu Marang, a remote area in Terengganu and coming from a traditional Malay family, my mother had the wisdom and foresight to know that her children needed to learn and be fluent in English.

Being a global language, she also knew that it would be to our advantage to read, write and speak well in English.

Since we lived away from town, my father would make it a point to drive me to my tutor’s place in Chendering. The journey took about 40 minutes each way.

My classes were twice a week, but never once did he complain.

It was tiring for him considering that there were times when he had to rush to and from work just to cart me to tuition.

My father didn’t earn much, but a good portion of his salary went towards my English tuition.

Both my parents wanted me to excel in the English language.

My parents were undoubtedly my earliest teachers and through them I learnt the many lessons of life and that included good values.

I must say that learning English wasn’t easy for me.

The only time I spoke the language was when I was at my tutor’s place.

Otherwise, there was little communication since I lived in a rural area where no one spoke the language.

I was at times frustrated as I could not converse with anyone except my siblings who were also learning the language like me.

I was also unable to compare notes and check my homework.

After a short while, my tuition teacher understood my predicament. She did her best to encourage me, knowing that I was determined to brush up on my language skills.

I was an eager student and she was often oozing with enthusiasm, challenging me with difficult essays and grammar exercises.

Similarly, at the teacher training institute in Sarawak, and later while pursuing my degree in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), I had dedicated lecturers.

While most were patient and easy-going, there were some who were strict, but they were all steadfast in their teaching commitments. Their focus was on making us great language teachers.

Their teaching methods and emphasis was not on language learning alone, but on bringing in innovative ideas and activities to ‘drive” our learners.

Now, as an English teacher at Sekolah Menengah Sains Hulu Terengganu, I always remind myself to appreciate my students’ successes while noting their failures and setbacks.

Teachers have a crucial role to play in moulding and shaping their students.

They must speak in an encouraging manner to keep their charges engaged and focused.

At the same time, they must also offer constructive criticisms that will enable students to have faith in themselves.

Language education is quite unlike learning other subjects.

One needs to have perserverance as the rules of grammar, pronunciation and the pecularity of certain words can be rather daunting.

The country’s aspiration of possesing the finest English language teachers can only materialise if teachers themselves have the determination to strive for excellence.

I am trying my very best to incorporate the many teaching approaches and unique techniques I’ve learnt from my mentors. This is because I want to be innovative in imparting language skills in an interesting and effectivel manner.


Sekolah Menengah Sains Hulu Terengganu, Terengganu

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