Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A wonderful resource

I'm going to teach "occupations" to my elementary students and am designing some activities around a jazz chant I'm going to use.

The jazz chant is titled "He's a Wonderful Dentist" by Carolyn Graham. The jazz chant mentions a few occupations: dentist, patient (err...is this an occupation?), singer, dancer, writer, lawyer, teacher and students.

So, while looking for appropriate photos for my activities, I've come across this photo website - http://www.inmagine.com/searchterms/dentist.html

The photos there are so amazingly nice and clear, and just by keying in the job in the search box, it leads me to exactly the photos that I'm looking for.

Thank you inmagine. Hope to buy the CD one day. :)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Blue Jeans Blues

I like to use the jazz chant titled "The Blue Jeans Blues" by Carolyn Graham as either the opening, or the ending of my lesson about the clothes people wear.

My students would normally tell me that this one's more interesting than the rest of the jazz chants that I've made them recite in the class.

They told me those jazz chants made them sleepy, whereas this one is different. It's a song! A simple, yet an interesting one, just right for my beginner or elementary students.

And I'd like to relate about how I had taken an advantage of the students' liking of this jazz chant to kick start my elementary class one day - as well as the result.

First, we revised some of the nouns related to clothes that we had learned the day before i.e. a pullover, a scarf, gloves, trainers etc. Then, we recalled the adjectives that can go together with those nouns, i.e. tight, loose, comfortable, formal, smart etc.

The students were briefed that they were going to work in small groups of four, and their task was to replace the names of the clothing items in the jazz chants with other clothing items, and use a different adjective rather than blue.

They were also required to include some background sounds/music to their new song like clapping or finger-clicking. They were given 15 minutes for discussions and prepare for a presentation after that.

They seemed to enjoy the planning part it. There were lots of laughters and giggles while they decided on the new items and the new adjectives - and there were more of those when they start practising the new lyrics.

However, when they presented their new blues, the presentations weren't as exciting as I had imagined them to be. Most students were still shy - could be due to their age which range from 18 - 36 years old. At that time, my mixed-nationality students had also been classmates for only three weeks, so I guess they were still not very comfortable with each other.

Of course, there were a few students who tried harder than the rest, but their group mates' non-willingness to cooperate got to them quite fast. So when I asked them whether or not they'd like to present again, everybody refused.

I've tried to incorporate such activities (a bit of TPR) to my immersion classes before and they have failed every time. I used to be under the impression that TPR doesn't work with adult learners since their emotional barriers seem pretty high.

However, last two months, I had a chance to practise a bit of TPR combined with the grammar translation method with two groups(classes) of students in a local university. These students were all Malaysians, and the activity took place some time in their 7th or 8th week together as classmates.

I put them into small groups of four, and prior to the task, I had taught them The Beatles' song "Yesterday" in an attempt to demonstrate the lexical approach of learning English through songs.

In this activity, their task was to translate the song to Malay, their mother-tongue. The result was very encouraging. Not only the translation was good, they sang it with actions that portray the meaning of the song (in an attempt to insert the elements of TPR). The result - the whole class and I were very entertained.

Group discussions in progress as in the content-based approach we normally practice - something that I noticed my USIM students really enjoy doing in the classroom.

So, I guess it's not totally the age barrier that prohibits students from participating in this type of activities, but the level of comfort that they feel being with each other plays an important part. As adult students, the duration for their warming up and bonding with the others seems to be taking up quite some time.


I've always used this song, by The Beatles, in my language classroom - usually to differentiate the past tense to the present one. It can also be used to demonstrate the positive and the negative statements.

From my tinkering experience, this song is suitable even for beginners and elementary students since it's a slow song.

So far the result hasn't been disappointing. All the students whom I've taught this song had loved it! So fellow teacher-friends of mine, I would highly recommend this song for your classroom as well.

All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

I'm not half the man I used to be,
There's a shadow hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she
Had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say.
I said, something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday.

Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she
Had to go I don't know, she wouldn't say.
I said, something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday.

Love was such an easy game to play,
Now I need a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.


Note: Of course, if you're teaching in an all-girls school or environment - the pronoun "she" can be changed to "he" to make it more personalized.

**This song is also the perfect song for me to listen to whenever I feel like I've been dumped - like today - sigh!

An old piece of writing

Found something in my mailbox, something that I wrote a long time ago, but not available on the net anymore - so here it is for sharing.

Things to do (or not do) when you are not satisfied with your job

by Mima Zohds

Step 1: Do not whine!

Whining does not take you anywhere. The most it can do is making you feel so sorry for yourself and bore people around you. Face the facts: nobody likes a whiny person. They can listen to your complaints and consult you once, but if you do not do anything to improve the situation and yet, keeps complaining over and over again - people will get tired of listening to you and will start avoiding you. The next thing you know, they will label you as a “loser”.

Step 2: Identify the problem.

Try to identify the reason for your not being satisfied with your present job. Is it the salary that is bugging you? Is it the seniority of position? Is it the toxic boss you have? Is it because your present job doesn’t allow you to have your own life? Or is it simply because you feel that you are in the wrong career line? Only by correctly identifying the reason for your dissatisfaction, you can plan on the next move you will take to correct the situation.

Step 3: Identify the solution – some suggestions:


If it is the salary or the seniority of position that is bugging you, you may discuss the matter with your superior and come up with a career plan that may help you achieve the seniority and the salary that you are targeting for. You may also do a market research to get an idea of how much people with your experience and skills are getting paid outside and point it out to your superior. If you find it difficult to achieve, then just update your resume, and start looking for another job that will offer you a more senior position with a higher salary. The only thing to remember is, higher salary and position comes with higher responsibility and expectations, so make sure you are prepared for them.

Toxic boss

Nothing you can do can change your boss. The one that you can change is yourself - how you look at your boss. Try to find something positive about your boss that you can like and try to develop your relationship based on that. Read books and articles or sign up for courses on “How to manage your boss”. Find out what are your boss’ expectations of his/her subordinates and try to comply with them. Treat your boss as your most important client – after all, you are a service provider to your company, which includes your boss and your colleagues. Ever heard of the phrase “Customer First” or “Customer is always right”? If the situation is really unbearable - again, update your resume and start looking for another job. Don’t forget to pray hard that you will not end up having the same type of boss.

Wrong career line

If you feel that you are in the wrong career line, start identifying what is the field that will really make you happy, and start building plans and identifying opportunities that will help you make your career shift. There was one successful accountant who left his job to become a chef, and is a very famous chef today. There was one high-flying engineer who left his job to become a teacher for a quieter life with his beloved family. The most important thing is they are happy with the career shift that they made and leads a happier life now. However, you may want to consider signing up for courses or diplomas that will equip you with the knowledge and the skills you will need for your new job, and you may have to consider starting over with a lower salary than you have now.

Be your own boss!

If all other methods fail, consider building a small business on your own. You will be your own boss, so you won’t have to deal with toxic bosses. You can work towards the kind of income that you would like, it’s all yours to determine. You can work on things that you are interested in and be in love with what you are doing. Building your own business is certainly not an easy job, but the satisfaction you get out of it will be worth the experience.

Important reminder!

Whatever you decide, do not just jump out of your present job. Careful planning of your next step is crucial if you do not want to regret taking the decision. As unhappy as you are now, you do not want to start wandering on the street for a new job or tie up your stomach with stones! However, do not stay too long at your present job if you hate it seriously since it will be destructive for both your company and yourself. Act quickly, but wisely.

Mima Zohds was a teacher in the public secondary school. She left teaching to explore other job options, seeking to discover her hidden skills and talents. Committed to the cause of education and life-long learning, she has tried her hands at writing, editing, working on translations, conducting training and facilitating experiential groups; and is now experimenting on instructional designing. Mima welcomes feedback at mimazohds@yahoo.com

Published in Prodigy – The Promuda Mouthpiece Volume 1, Issue 5, November 2002.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A confession, or rather, a-bit-too-late review of a portal

Call me outdated, but I just have to make a confession. I'm having a fever, and it's not the normal fever - it's the facebook fever.

I'm or was on ryze, imeem, friendster, ning, wayn n hi5 b4 but I don't really use them. Most of the time when I had wanted to check them out, I would have forgotten what was the ID I used or what was the password.

So when friends started to invite me to facebook, I had just ignored their emails. However, when the invitations kept coming in, I became curious - why so many people are hooked to facebook.

Once I accepted it...wow...almost everyone's here (well, I'm exaggerating it a bit). I found so many long-lost friends here - and not only them - I've also found my long-lost foes. How painful the feelings were when I saw their faces in facebook - I nearly wanted to abandon it.

However, after exploring it for quite some time, I fell in love with it. It's so convenient coz lots of applications are embedded on the web page itself.

I can send messages to people just like email, and there's a messenger-like tool which is embedded so one can see friends who are online, and can chat with them. Cool, isn't it? It's like we get all the yahoo applications but all in one page.

We can even create and join groups here, just like yahoogroups.
In addition, there is a wall just like online guestbooks.

No wonder so many people talk about it. Gee... how could I be so ignorant... My guess - more and more people will join facebook and abandon yahoogroups, yahoo messenger, guestbooks, ryze, friendster, hi5 - whatever cool things we already have here but stands alone as a separate entity.

So watch out Yahoo! and the rests... Here comes a very big competitor. But then, it could be just another phase of an excitement - who knows? ((shrug...))

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Cerita-ceriti Raya

My other group of new children in USIM:
Awin, Ekin, Syida, Farah, Pijah, Fatehah, Nik, Fizah, Aty, Izzaty & Wawa
- Abdullah Fadzil (jurugambar)

Raya tahun ni memang terasa meriahnya. Entah kenapa selama bertahun-tahun aku tak pernah suka beraya, tapi tahun ni rasanya seronok sungguh... walaupun tahun ni turn raya di rumah mak mertua, dan plan aku nak tukar langsir baru (yg ada tu dah 3-4 kali raya) tak menjadi... Punya la sakan beraya minggu pertama, sampaikan minggu kedua aku kong kerana demam teruk...

Dalam pada suka2 tu, sedih pun ada, kerana dgn tamatnya Syawal, tamatlah servis aku di USIM dan MFI unt semester ini. Yelah, walaupun mungkin jumpa lagi, environment tu dah tak sama mcm dlm kelas kan... di USIM kali ini aku ada 13 + 12 anak2 or adik2... (mana2 kategori pun boleh) - kat MFI 41 orang. So aku ingat alang2 dah raya tu, aku buatlah makan2 untuk anak2 aku ni - kira2 majlis perpisahan le tu...

Excited gak masa merancang majlis ni... yelah, aku ni sebenarnya anti-sosial sikit. Jarang ajak org dtg rumah, apa lagi ramai2 macam ni. Kedua, aku biasa masak untuk habis2 bnyk 4-5 org makan je... ni nak masak untuk ard 70 ppl... cam ne ek....? So, aku pun dapatkan le pertolongan anak2/adik2 angkat sulung aku untuk jadi bentara majlis la kononnya.

Alkisah, sibuk la sikit minggu tu. Aku ajak diorg dtg Sabtu petang jam 5, tp Jumaat malam baru aku sempat nak membeli bhn2 mentah nak masak. Dh tu org belakang rumah buat majlis birthday anak dia, kwn anak aku gak... so, kena la singgah. Since hajat hati nak menjamu laksa dan nasi goreng cina, terpaksa la aku berjaga sampai ke 4 pg menyiang ikan dan memotong ayam. Tu pun anak bujang aku si Irsyad dan anak angkat aku si Nabil dah tolong vacuum rumah dan settlekan muffin sampai jam 1 pagi.

Paginya pulak ada kerja, nk kena gi ofis IH... pas tu visit anak buah di hospital... dekat2 kol 2 baru sampai rumah babe... Kelam-kabut aku dibuatnya... Baru la nak perisi ikan yg aku rebus malam sebelum tu, nak kupas bawang dan bermcm2 lagi yg x sempat aku nak layan malam sebelumnya.

Bentara2 aku yg janji nak dtg tlg kol 2 datang lebih krg kol 4... Tu pun nasib baik datang... dapat le aku delegate kerja2 memotong itu dan ini yg remeh-temeh dlm pembuatan laksa tu kat diorg... Adik aku yg janji nak bawakkan dapur api besar dia tu pulak tak sampai2, so terpaksa la kitorg memulakan proses memasak kuah laksa menggunakan periuk besar (periuk kenduri) yg kupinjam dari mak aku, atas api dapur aku yang hidup segan mati tak mahu tu... Akibatnya, bila tetamu2 aku dh sampai lewat jam 5 tu, kuah laksa kitorang tu macam jauh je lagi nak mendidih...

Nasib baik adik aku sampai kala tu... dapatla tutup dapur aku dan guna api dapur dia. Boleh le sebelah masak laksa dan sebelah lagi wat nasi goreng cina. Urusan tu semua di ambil-alih oleh adik aku dan bentara2 di dapurku petang itu... Aku kena layan tetamu, tapi dgn makanan yg belum siap, mati kutu gak aku nak melayan diorg, habis2 pun takat pelawa suruh minum air dulu le...ahak ahak... Nasib baik lepas tu kuar le kuah laksa dan nasi goreng sikit2... tak tau le aku apa perasaan tetamu aku hari tu... susah2 datang, dah la jamuannya tak seberapa - kena lak tunggu lama macam tu. Dalam hati aku rasa serik nak kumpulkan diorang ramai2 mcm tu lagi... Tu pun students aku yg dari MFI x sampai 20 kerat yg dtg... Lepas2 ni kalau aku nak ajak diorg makan, aku ajak satu kelas demi satu kelas... pas tu pot luck... ha ha ha...

So... ni le rupa2 majlis aku hari tu...

MFI guests- all male, babe! Kalu suami aku ada, sure dia jealous tak pasal2.

Some of my USIM girls... (gambar tak cantik..anak aku yg amik...)
Girls, kalau u all ada gambar elok sikit, tlg email yek...

Piknik para penanggah (kat belakang rumah).

Sedia berkhidmat - Fazlan (USIM) dan Kamal (MFI)

Tak lupa ucapan terima kasih kepada Hamizah yang tak berhenti2 mencuci pinggan mangkuk.

Farah dgn misi membuat kek coklatnya... tak sangka Kamal pandai bagi konsultansi pasal kek...

Bentara2 aku yang lain melepaskan lelah... sis Nana, son Irsyad,
Fithri, Hasnur, Asila,
Mahmudah, Izzati, Adila...

Thanks everybody. All of you (baik yg sudi mampir, mahu pun yg tlg rewang) had made the recent hari raya a very meaningful one for me. Love all of you. Mmmmuah!!!