Teaching English creatively

Wednesday May 30, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/5/30/nation/11383374&sec=nation

By TAN EE LOO
educate@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: It isn’t easy to visit English Language teacher Jarod Yong in Sarawak.

It takes a flight and boat rides along the Rajang and Katibas Rivers before any one can set foot in his remote school.

The harsh living conditions, however, have not deterred Yong from taking up the challenge to improve the standard of English among his students at SMK Katibas, a three-hour boat ride away from the nearest city of Sibu.

Since 2009, Yong has worked relentlessly to change his students’ mindset and cultivate their interest in the language at the school that relies on generators.

The 27-year-old Kuching native tailors his lessons by including games, group work, activities, productions and presentations to make them lively and engaging.

He also revived the English Language Society and initiated the school’s first monthly English newspaper — The Katibas Global.

“I have always believed that no school is complete without a newspaper (produced) by the students, reporting on the students, for the students,” he wrote in his blog.

Yong also had to deal with the fact that the locals prefer to speak Bahasa Iban.

“In a remote setting like this, the English Language is hardly relevant. The older longhouse folk who were educated by the British speak a little English but the younger generation are not able to converse in anything other than Bahasa Iban,” he said.

Yong said many of the students’ parents and grandparents were illiterate but they wanted a better quality of life for their children.

“I have asked them why English is important to them. They all gave me a similar response – to get a good job,” he said.

“My mission is to help them pass their exams with flying colours,

no matter what the challenges

are. If these children have any hope of making anything out of themselves, it will depend on their results in the national exams which may eventually lead to government aid, scholarships or loans,” he added.

Read this Sunday’s StarEducate to find out how Yong uses his creativity to promote the use of the English Language in the remote school.