Hand in Hand for our Dream :AAR English Camp at UUM,Malaysia
(A=After ,A= Action ,R=Review)
By: Dr.Abdul Halim Mohamed
Universiti Utara Malaysia was delighted to receive two groups of primary school pupils of Chariyatham Suksa Foundation School, Chana, Songkla, Southern Thailand. The two groups of pupils arrived at UUM Welcome Anjung Center on 14th October 2017. These two groups were accompanied by Ustaz Syukur Dina the director of Quranic and Languages centre (QLCC) as well as two teachers Miss Supunnika Jehduman and Naslee Senalameen .
The first group of 58 students visited the UUM Welcome Centre and was given a briefing by the officer, Hajah Rashidah before departing to Alor Star, Kedah Darulaman, Malaysia to visit a few schools there. Meanwhile, another group of 21 students consisted of 16 girls and 6 boys were taken to a UUM Proton's Gallery to have a short session of English class before sending them to their rooms for Zohor prayers. This group stayed in UUM for five days in order to attend the five- day Leadership English ASEAN Programme (LEAP) in Universiti Utara Malaysia, October 14 -18, 2017. They were well briefed by Hajah Rashidah who was the person-in-charge-of the Welcome Anjung Tamu.
After the short presentation and tour by Hajah Rashidah, the pupils were taken to their college hostels, DPP Proton Inasis.
Upon arriving at the Gallery, Dr Abdul Halim Mohamed, the English trainer as well as lecturer assessed their English language skills especially their language competence and performance. The assessment of learners' language proficiency was considered vital in any language training. Dr Halim felt that it was crucial to evaluate the pupils' language attitudes, knowledge, skills and abilities before exposing them on the four integrative language skills. Besides, he wanted to assess their knowledge on English sentences and grammatical structures. Overall, students' command of the English language was considered mediocre.
As Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) trained instructor, Dr Halim emphasised on the needs to reduce the language anxiety among the students. Reducing language anxiety level was vital in order to encourage the pupils to learn the target language effectively. He started the class by training the pupils with a few movements of psychomotor skills through the Hockey Pockey song. They needed to realise that the English language learning involved certain structures and patterns to be mastered. After a few practices, the pupils had improved their language performance and sang the song effectively. They managed to produce near-native production of the target language. The activities continued till lunch time where the pupils were served with Thai rice with delicious spicy gravy. There was a short break before the session commenced at 2:30 pm.
Realising that pupils were sleepy after having their lunch, Dr Halim selected a dialogue such as "Teacher, please help! I have a headache, I have a stomachache and I have a toothache. I want to see a doctor." He continued the last sentence by slow diversifying the structures of the sentence. He asked students to repeat after him, "Teacher, I want to go to a clinic" and followed by "Teacher, I want to go to a clinic by car and later "I wanted to go to a clinic by bus."
The students seemed to actively involved by repeating the language rhythms for a few minutes. The trainer, Dr Halim continued his class session by asking students to do "self-introduction." They were exposed to a variety of self-introduction till 4:30 pm. Dr Halim's two PhD students also came and participated in the programmes. They encouraged the pupils to practice their language skills through language games.
The second day, Dr Halim walked through some language nursery rhymes such as "Row, Row your boat" and My Bonnie lies over the ocean" for the pupils to practise their language skills.
The two language helpers of Dr.Halim, Faisal and Sameem, were later participated in singing a few children's rhymes and songs. All the language practices were aimed at producing perfect pronunciation. This was the ultimate aims of the programmes - to produce effective and confident language users.
The active class session was triggered by getting students to select and practice their language with Dr Halim. Dr Halim asked students to sing "one two buckle my shoes, three four, knock at the door, five six, pick up sticks, seven eight, lay them straight, nine ten, a big fat hen. Dr Halim noted that some pupils could not say numbers in the right sequence. More language practices were conducted in the session until everyone could produce their sentences and uttered their words effectively.
The third day continued by getting the pupils to compete in the song productions. The pupils were divided into five groups. Each group of three to four students must learn to practice their songs. The five nursery rhymes were chosen and taught by Dr Halim or popularly known as Dr H. The nursery rhymes that were first demonstrated by Dr Halim before they were asked to sing along. "Ba Ba black ship", "hickory, dickory dock", "row, row your boat", "my Bonnie lies over the ocean" and "She'll coming round the mountain were some of the rhymes taught to the pupils to master the language skills. They were encouraged to practice even at night time.
The third day, the students were asked to move to meeting room where they were again exposed to other English language practice sessions. Dr Halim introduced some action words and careers. The pupils needed to again write questions and answers related to the careers. They were asked to repeat not only the new language work but also all the songs and rhymes learned in previous days. The session went on till lunch time. After lunch, the students were asked to rewrite and copy the questions and answers on careers without any mistakes. Dr Halim again reminded the students to try to remember all the questions and answers on careers. They session continued till the recess time. Dr Halim wished that all students with a variety of language skills to always keep learning and learning English without tears and fears. The students were later dismissed to participate in a language and cultural show on the night of Tuesday.
The students with the help given by UUM students were asked to keep practising and rehearsing their language. Quite surprisingly, the pupils put up excellent shows.
The fourth day session started with a few new practices such as reading a clock and mentioning time, classroom objects, careers, language used in classrooms and daily routine before going back to Thailand at 4:00 pm. Dr Halim continued his fourth day of class lesson by emphasising the needs to improve their language proficiency and utterances.
All in all, it was noticed that all students took part actively in the language class. Their language competence and performance grew everyday. It is hoped that they find opportunity to use the target language, monitor their own speeches and speech of others, take risks in language learning and to become accurate guessers. The programme ended well with the satisfaction expressed by the student representatives. The two teachers, Nasely and Atiqah, who accompanied the student group hoped that they would visit UUM again. As the director of LEAP, Dr Halim expressed his confidence in students' language experiences here. He hopes that students would come back as potential degree students in UUM.