Where Did I Learn My English, Then?

First and foremost, before I embark on an embarrassing attempt to do an entry regarding the topic of the day, allow me to apologize for all grammatical errors that I might make in this post. I am after all, a Malaysian girl who went to a Malaysian national school that does not teach grammar during English classes. Or did it? I can’t remember. It has been 6 years since high school and 11 years since primary school. But feel free to correct my english! As long as I’m alive, I’m still learning. šŸ™‚

In my opinion, I felt like I was actually learning something during my primary school english classes. I remember trying to rebuild sentences which were jumbled up. Sentences such as “Is an Vendor He Ice-Cream” were included in exercises and I remember this one in particular because I did not know what was vendor when I was 8 years old and ended up getting 98% for that my mid-term paper. ARGH!! (ya bragging. hahaha.)

I did learn when and how to use plural, past, present and future tense, adjectives, nouns and all those other terms used in english grammar classes. After awhile, a sentence just doesn’t “sound” right when there’s a grammatical error in it. I relied on this ‘sound’ thing throughout my entire lifetime of english usage. Be it in examination papers, homework or even blog posts.

Actually, my multi-subject tuition teacher Pn. Kogi deserves credit for my english fundamentals. She would buy Singaporean english grammar text books and make us do the exercises in it. Those were some tough cookies but because of her, the few of us had a better grasp of the language.

In high school however, english classes did not get any deeper and my friends and I have always put it on the same level as our PJK ( a super duper lame paper.. something to do with Health and Sports ) paper. English class was only an outlet for us to show off our essay writing skills. To wow the teacher with our awesome imagination. “..and then Angie woke up from her dream.” was how most of our mind blowing essays ended. If English was our final paper, we’d be out catching a movie the night before. Getting anything less than an A for English earned you ridicule from the kids at my school.

I missed the Teaching of English in Maths and Science by a couple of years but that did not hinder my transition in applying english for my A-level subjects. The first few months were a little confusing but with a good dictionary, I had no problem.
Six months into A-levels and I had totally forgotten how to use BM at SPM level. Like what was diameter in BM?! Periphery?! At least I still remember Luas is Area. All is not lost.

I am obviously all for passing english as a prerequisite to obtaining your SPM cert. And for the sake of the rural kids, take things slow. We don’t have to pass a bill overnight. We have Standard 1 kids coming in every year and if aƂĀ  proper English syllabus which includes both grammar and communication can be drafted out for the next intake, the children can be groomed from the get go.

If I can learn BM from scratch (I didn’t know what was Lengkapkan in my standard 1 maths book but I sure as hell knew what 2+3 would equal to.), I’m pretty sure the rural children will be able to adapt to English as well. ESPECIALLY if Maths and Science will continue to be thought in English. I really despise backward mentality.

I read an article where some big wig in the (i’m assuming) linguistic field was proposing plenty of radical views regarding the teaching of maths and science in english. He mentioned things like studying at your own pace and then going on to higher levels when you’re finally comfortable, scraping the SPM cert and reverting back to the teaching of the subjects in BM! Just because some teachers are indequate.

If I’m not mistaken, high school teachers are required to have a degree before they can teach. Furthermore, these are maths and science teachers we are talking about. Did they not learn it in English? Where were their Bachelor of Science degrees from?

I can just imagine a teacher in the front of the class going, “Ahh..so class, you see ah, velo-.. itu apa..velocity ..ah ya.. is ah…wait ah.. *takes out malay to english science dictionary*.”

if a teacher can’t even have a good grasp of the english language, this says a lot about the standard of teaching in Malaysia.

@Dr. M, your prophecy already happened.

There was a very good reason why plenty of us relied on tuition classes and skipped the time waster which we called school near exam time. Some school teachers can’t teach for nuts. There’s also a very good reason why my tuition teacher made almost RM50k aƂĀ  month by running a tuition center. Don’t know if it was taxed though. :X I know nothing! Lalala.

And the textbooks that we were using back in school? INADEQUATE! They should just use the Fokus Pelangi series as our official textbooks.

As I have learned from wikipedia years ago, I am part of a small portion of chinese people in this country who speaks English at home. Okay lah fine, it’s manglish. Still english though. Some shell I was living in when I went to national service and university reeling in shock at the amount of people who prefer to speak in chinese. It should have been some indication to me that out of 13 classes in high school, 9 classes were for students who came from chinese schools.

Apparently the reason that I come from an English speaking family is because my parents, like a lot of people from their generation, went to english medium schools. So did my paternal grand parents. Maternal grandparents went to english schools AND had chinese tuition. My great grandparents didn’t go to school though.

In this country, there are people who come from families who speak in their mother tongue and get sent to schools which are conducted in their mother tongue such as indian and chinese national schools. There are also people who speak English at home and get sent to vernacular schools. Something I am planning for my future children because not knowing mandarin really sucks big time!!

Based on statistical studies (my friends wtf), those who speak English at home and go to chinese schools.. mostly.. get shitty results for their mother tongue language paper and ace the other subjects. Then there are those who are both excellent in english AND their mother tongue.. well, those are your typical JPA scholars who have no trouble learning maths, science, aeronautical science, actuarial science in english or malay or swahili. Don’t care about them lah.

For those of us who go to Malay schools, be it chinese or indian or lain-lain, your english is usually not that good if you don’t speak it at home. Every language needs practice to improve. Your mother tongue might be good communications wise but you won’t be able to read or write in that language because you didn’t learn it.

As I hardly have Indian friends who went to indian national schools, I can only speak about those who went to chinese national schools. I have been told that in chinese national schools, these students are very good in english theory wise but when it comes to speaking, so-so. This can also be applied to non-malay students studying at national schools.

In this sense, students with backgrounds like mine are very lucky and will benefit either way with english being included as a prerequisite to obtaining the ALL IMPORTANT SPM Cert or whatever they decide to do with english when it comes to teaching maths and science. Our thoughts are already in English to begin with.

To improve overall standard of English, we first need to standardize all schools. Why must language be used to separate schools? Can’t language exist as compulsory subjects?

I have to say the dreaded phrase……………

Look at Singapore. šŸ˜›

oh and p/s: No use lah learning maths and science in Malay. Totally forgot everything already. šŸ™‚

Another Blow To The Ego

On the whole, I think I am generally quite a confident person.

Despite the numerous beatings to my self esteem over the past decade, I think I’m doing quite okay.

But here I go again sounding like a broken tape recorder:

I might not be your conventional beauty but I do not hide my face nor am I shy about what I am lacking/have too much of.ƂĀ  What is the point? I’d rather be out there talking to my friends and meeting new people.

Due to certain efforts of mine over the past few years, I’ve been given the chance to do certain things that put me in situations to be scrutinized. Though these opportunities come with endless benefits, it also comes with criticism.

So what’s new?

About how I look again la what else.

I’m not actually bothered by it too much because by now I should have developed an immunity to being insulted for my lack of physical attributes.

I did an advertorial for Maxis back in November and I know, realized and was very well aware that all those other girls who did the advertorial with me are hot babes that I’ve never grown to become. But I have long overcome the fact that I will never be a stunner. I’m cool with it because for years I have made up for that with attitude.ƂĀ  The criticisms that comes with it, the shamelessness that I ooze without effort, my bitchiness verbal diarrhea style and various other sohai things that I’m quite proud of.

So if you’re reading this and worrying about me, don’t. These are just my thoughts after having a long talk with a classmate of mine on MSN last night.

I let him see this forum where some people said why are maxis taking advantage of young girls to promote their products and while they are at it, why don’t they use better looking girls? Apparently I looked like a man in some of the photos lah. But yeah tell me something I don’t know. Most of them comments were about the way I looked in the photos instead of the actual product itself. -_-

During the event for the advertorial, there was a make over session. I know the make-up artist was being realistic but I just smiled politely when he said, “All of you girls have beautiful eyes! And Jolene, yours are curved downwards, so we’ll need to work on that.” …As it is, I was already surrounded by some of the most beautiful malaysian bloggers, I just didn’t need to be compared like that.

On Cindy’s blog when she posted her Maxis advertorial, there were some comments about how I was the worse looking one there.

A bit ouch for awhile but this incident today really stimulated some thoughts that need to be jotted down here. Now that I am older, I get over insults within 5 minutes. The usual feelings will be there for a while lah such as shallow breathing and a grimace on my face. Then I’ll be back to normal doing my own thing. šŸ™‚

But I was not always like that.

Some of you might have heard this before but I shall take you on a journey down memory lane laden with events that made it clear just how the shallow society viewed me.

When I first entered secondary school, I was like any other 12 year old – boy crazy and naive. I didn’t think I was ugly and any guy who talked to me, MUST have talked to me because they liked me. All these incidents went into that stupid juvenile diary of mine. I had imaginary love triangles or even octagons for that matter.

But talking to that classmate of mine yesterday made me realize that I was not alone in thinking so. Children assumed that they are good looking until reality snaps. I posted this up on my FB status and received quite a lot of ‘likes’ which only further proved my point.

I was snapped out of my reverie on one afternoon in form1. I got to know this boy from my school via IRC and he was in form2, a year above me. And the rule still applied lah, since he talked a lot to me, something must be going on here! I heard from friends that he was on the lookout for a potential girlfriend and felt quite flattered that he was talking to me a lot online.

At this point, he has yet to see me. But me being the perasan kid that I was, thought he probably saw me around school already.

I walked by his class one day and heard the boys in the backrow erupt in laughter. I smiledin their direction and thought to myself, “Oooh…. maybe they are teasing him! Ooh!! So exciting!”

I was at my friend’s house a few days later and he was talking to her on ICQ. He said something like, “Oh the other day that Jolene Lai walked by my class and she smiled at me… ” I sat up straight, very excited to see what he was about to say next.

“I almost fainted ler,” he continued.

I was smiling to myself by then because he must have been blown away by my beauty!

“My friends said want to vomit lerrr she so ugly hahaha,” he went on to say.

The moment I saw that, I frozed. It was like I was slapped in the face. My friend tried to save the situation by telling him that I was actually reading the entire thing. He quickly said, “Eh eh just joking. Don’t smile lah next time k? You don’t smile okay one!”

I got on my bicycle and cycled home from my friend’s place with tears streaming down my face. I’ve not forgotten that incident at all. This guy was regarded as one of the ‘bad boys’ in my school and because of him, I never spoke to boys who had a bit of rogueness about their person. For years, I was pretty sure that they would not bother being acquainted to me as I was not up to standard.

For months after that I refused to be introduced to boys I met over the internet. Don’t worry for these were only boys from school. I was very sure that they would run away screaming when they saw me. I couldn’t take another blow to my ego.

Sometime in the middle of form1, a form2 boy named CX liked me but I didn’t really believe it because I was quite sure it was a horrible prank. He was a bad boy himself and he got a lot of flak from his peers for taking an interest in me. He wanted to join some gang at school and he was chatised for being a sohai and a wannabe for wanting to join that gang and ..on top of that, for liking that ugly girl called Jolene Lai.

I learned about all this in the form of an IRC transcript sent to me by one of his “pet sisters” who I supposed had a crush on him and was trying to hurt me.

A lot of girls had crushes on him and these were girls you would not want to mess with. They were the typical lala muis you would find dwelling in the back classes. Crude and distasteful types. They would scream at me from two blocks (of classrooms) away screeching things like, “CX GOT BAD TASTE!!!!!!!!” and glare at me when they walked pass me.

I was like wtf what did I do. In early form2, that chapter in my life closed. I started hanging out with people who were more open minded and were more into friendly conversations than stupid and juvenile boy-girl relationships that fizzle out within weeks.

I still had random people adding me on ICQ back then and claiming to like me and then after leading me on would say, “Aiyoh you so ugly go do plastic surgery first.”

While the kids around me became less mean as the years went by, it was made clear to me that I am really not the kind of beauty men would desire. When I attended interschool functions, boys would not be asking me for my ICQ number/handphone number. Boys from the other forms didn’t take an interest in me. There were no rumours about guys having crushes on me while my close friends were having boys falling for them right left and center. As a young teenager, these kinda emotions were hard to stiffle but I made up for it by busying myself with crushes and telling them about my feelings. šŸ™‚ All rejected nicely, btw. They were all sweet boys.

By form5, I was pretty much already the girl that I am today. With a network of friends whom I can be totally myself with, enjoying the company of new friends who are just as funny as me and basically looking forward to life after high school.

Life after high school, meant the start of my blog. With my blog, I had something to back me up. Nobody judged me based on face value anymore. Friends of friends spoke to me warmly because they’ve gotten to know me ‘personally’ via my blog though I’ve not met them before. But as long as they were nice to me, that’s all I could ask for. Old acquaintances who would probably snub me because they are generally the arrogant type, spoke to me like an equal because they could connect with me after reading my blog.

This was of course back in 2005 when this blog of mine had more friends reading it. Now they are probably too busy and perhaps bored of me what with my lack of updates.

Eh let’s get back on track!!

So because I chose to make myself public, I opened myself to harsh criticisms from random passerbys who don’t even know me and just saw my photos here and got disgusted.

They would leave nasty comments about my face on my tagboard and kill my ego for a day or two. But I recovered fast.

One incident that was quite bad was the infamous blog post by another blogger girl who was mistaken for me at a blog meet and felt insulted because she’s definitely not as ugly as me. A blog post was written about the incident, someone sent it to me, I got hurt and the entire blogosphere went into a flurry as people got excited with the flame war that was going on. She and I are friends now and she’s not a bad person at all. Misunderstood and young and myself, sensitive and young as well. Hahaha. All water under the bridge. But this was a classic example of how society viewed me.

After relating all these to my classmate, he thought I was very strong and said some girls might have gotten a bit suicidal for being insulted like that.

Now that I am older, I know that beauty is subjective. Make-up helps and attitude helps a whole lot more. As long as you are comfortable with the people around you, so what’s a little comment from dimwit strangers? They just don’t know the substance that you have that makes you you. The qualities that you have that opens doors for you, it’s your own effort and if people who don’t know you don’t understand that, it’s okay. You’re the one reaping the benefits from such opportunities. So what if I sold my soul? My soul wants to be blessed with material things, so I think I should be happy doing what I do.

There are a lot of pretty faces out there with zero substance and that’s far worse than a plain girl. These girls get bitched about! Plain girls are just not talked about, so that’s better than being bitched about right?

I know I am not ugly when I have my better days, I’m just not what the media wants.

I’ll just have to take it with a pinch of salt and be thankful that I can get over insults fast and just go back to my usual hectic/mundane/eyebrow raising life of tvb drama watching, Chee Kiang missing, shopping, outings, Angel yearning, sticker selling, blog crapping, photos editing, facebooking, dentistrying and exam passing. Gosh my life sounds so boring. šŸ™

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My junior from uni, Aimee Lee, blogged about this too yesterday. I quite like what she wrote and babes, I genuinely think there are no ugly women, only lazy women. Perfect example is the dental dinner pic! You look gorgeous there.:)