Thursday, January 31, 2013

MUET Lesson Plans

Hi... I've been getting feedback from teachers wanting to know how I go about teaching my students and what syllabus do I follow. Frankly speaking, if I could be so honest, I am going to tell you that the syllabus is merely a guideline and you should follow your heart and your mind instead.

The first thing I do is assess the students... just a mental evaluation of what their level is like, how comfortable they are with the language and what 'skills' do they need to face the real world, ie uni life and working life. Give them some autonomy in deciding WHAT it is they want to learn more about.

So here is a run down of WHAT I teach...

1. My Grammar Formulas as the basis of all the lessons, including coded marking.
2. Egg Babies: Parenting Skills to teach them the values of responsible adulthood
3. Phonology and pronunciation lesson using a really cool handout with incorporates pictures as the phonetic symbols.
4. Vocabulary expansion using my Word Class worksheets, word scavenging through the dictionary.
5. Resume/CV writing, cover letters and mock job interviews (highly important and a MUST teach)
6. Academic writing using my template for very weak proficiency, and a more 'open' style for higher bands.
7. Academic essay compilation of minimum 50 essays a person (I get each one to write on a specific topic, then i painstakingly mark it using codes, students self-correct their errors and rewrite the final draft before copying everybody else's essay in their own handwriting, no photocopying, and use highlighters to indicate words/sections they like, comments etc)
8. Mock speaking activities (non-exam based: interviews/forums/presentations, exam-based: mock tests using the speaking templates I provide. I also have various activities for turn-taking, brainstorming, shadowplay technique etc.)
9. Report Writing (teach the format, do practices, find their own stimuli and write the report & present, copy each other's reports so they have a compilation of reports as well)
10. Reading Comprehension includes collecting reading materials from reliable sources (Reader's Digest, Time, Newsweek, The Star, The Edge etc and students design their own MCQs to test other groups) besides the regular model tests n actual exams.
11. Listening activities using the 'pause and play' technique, oral to written 'reconstruction' activity, model tests and actual exam practice and analysis..
12. Powerpoint presentations using the 'simulation' technique, usually a simulation of a business convention or a membership/support group drive etc.

At some point or another I have blogged about my activities, so if you'd like to ask me how I carry out a particular lesson I wl try my best to answer. :) Anyway, happy teaching people!

Oh and my seminar at Uni Tun Hussien Onn, JB is confirmed on 22 n 23 Feb.. so really looking forward to that now! Woohoo!

Monday, January 14, 2013

MUET 2013... another new year has dawned...

Hi people... I apologise for the long haitus... I've been so busy and just haven;t fount the time or the initiative to work this blog. Anyway, here are the latest issues I've found out.

Firstly, we were all shocked by the July MUET result which was appalling. According to reliable sources, the results were the worst ever for MUET in this country since its inception. Not a single Band 6 was recorded across the board where normally there would be at least 1 to 10 B6s every exam (very rough estimate, no proof available, sowwy). Anyway, my students took the final year exam and I was indeed hoping that MPM would be a bit more linient this time round considering the sad affair of the July paper. Turns out it is equally as bad and the results produced were in my personal opinion, horrendous!!!

Last year my school had only 5 B1s, but this year a grand total of 34 B1s were glaring at me from the report sheet, as if mocking my entire MUET career.... my only consolation is that no matter how badly we did compared to last year, when we compare it with other schools for the final year exam, we still managed to top the rest in the area as we had 2 Band 4s and a handful of Band 3s compared to some schools with all Band 1 and 2s only.... yeeesh! MPM officers, if you are reading this, I implore you to rethink the level of questions and marking as the standards are tooooo high. Considering these students need to pass in order to graduate, it would cost too much for them to retake it over and over again esp since you have made a quantum leap in terms of exam costs from rm60 to rm100 which is almost an 80% increase in fees. It begs the question whether this exam is simply a money making industry or ???? ... (not my opinion, but along the thoughts of most people, completely heresay).

Anyway, another issue I heard about the recent exam marking from some MUET examiners (sources undisclosed as it was a discussion AFTER marking was done and dusted and based on general comments only k) that the marking scheme is very stringent these days as MPM wants students to be able to look at the tables/graphs/stimulis and come up with the 'tersurat' and the 'tersirat' which in their terms are 'analysis' and 'synthesis'. If you dont know what that means, then it will be hard for you to score in the report writing section. They also had a field day deciding on the 'Overview' (second sentence of the introduction) because apparently there was NO general trend based on the question produced. After looking at the question, I could identify the 'general trend' but apparently it is not called that because it does not involve a timeframe. Duh??? Regardless, you still need an 'Overview' so just come up with a sentence that ties in the most outstanding features of ALL the stimuli. They really should vet the questions properly cos we are teaching according to their format and it would be ridiculous if the answers are not according to the format. Yeesh, go figure!

For the academic writing section, it is also harder to score these days because the arguments must be directly relevant to the issue in the question as opposed to the theme in the essay question. A very clear example of this is the July paper which asks students their opinion of the co-curricular criteria for entering university. If you simply answered that this criteria is good because it will teach students discipline, then you have not answered the question. The key is to tie it to the issue of if this skill will benefit them at university and how it will help them perform better in university. Anyway, what do I know what MPM actually wants, these are only my theories as to why so many students scored poorly that time round.

Another bone of contention is the listening paper. Many blogwalkers and students have written in complaning about their abhorred Listening paper marks.. and when I look at the results transcript for students in my school as well I am super shocked. Last year I had a student who got Band 5, scoring 45/45 for listening... but this year... the students in my school.... so many of them scored single digits.. and abt six of them scored only '2/45'. I mean.... TWO????? either I have a very weak lot of students or the listening paper was excutiatingly hard, meaning to say MPM's standard is way higher than average. I do hope they vet the questions extensively for the next paper so that the results tally and follow a more standard graph,..... but hey, again, who am I to question them. They probably know best, compared to an average teacher like me.

Right, so those reading this, thank you for staying tuned. I will be posting up sample MUET lesson plans and ideas which I am currently using for this year's batch. I will also attempt to answer the report writing question and the academic essay on women for last Nov's exam.... but even I am afraid that my answers will stray too far away from MPM's standard. Please be reminded that the objective of my blog is to help the low bands (1 & 2) achieve band (3 & 4) and if you want a Band 5 or 6, it boils down to the fluency and command of the language, and your ability to think critically. Good luck all! Toodles for now!