Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dampened Spirits...

She looked at me with a frown on her face, nothing else to accompany me during that long never ending moments being grilled in the interview room. She was sitting there emotionless while dissecting the contents of the file that held my academical results and after she was satisfied she threw me a sharp gaze that had almost killed me.  I remained quiet waiting for the next question but she stared at me, just sitting there lifeless for the whole 10 longest seconds in my life when suddenly I sensed some life  coming from within her when the  parabolic crease below her nose twitched into a smile, a cynical smile that doesn't put you at ease. "Rosfida, tell me one reason why you want to be an English teacher."  I simply replied, " I love English and am darn good at it and I have clear intentions to spread this love to my will be students. Who else better to teach it, if not me?"   And that was it.

I was given my first posting at a school in Kemasek, Terengganu which is situated by the roadside with buildings that resembled blocks of untempting carrotcakes and buttercakes.  When I entered the school compound, I remembered the warnings I got from the officers at the JPN who told me that I would have a tough time as an English teacher as these students do not warmly accept the language.  At that moment, I started to turn back but it was my husband who saved the day for he caught hold onto me and forced me to trod the path I myself had chosen.

As I made my way up to the office to report for duty, a girl with a grin on her face that best described grinning from ear to ear greeted me softly. Marlia Fatin was the name printed on her name tag and with her simple “Assalamualaikum, Teacher” it gave me the courage and strengthened my spirits to go on.  However did she know that I was an English teacher when in fact I had never met her before in my life? That was the sign..a good sign.

I started my first task teaching English to a hoard of unruly 13 and 14 year old boys and girls who most of them have never set foot out of Terengganu.   The class I enjoyed the most, naturally would be the class with the most knowledge of English.  I still remember those students who were always ready on the go to learn every time I entered class and were indeed willing participants in all the tasks that I had laid out for them.  They accepted English as a part of life and had this positive attitude towards learning it.  There was also this class I was entrusted to, 2W4, if I am not mistaken and although their level of English was way below satisfactory, some had always enjoyed the English period and even tried speaking to me in English.

Life is indeed not a bed of roses though.  Being a person who thrives on the challenges and thrills that learning and teaching English offers, therefore I was deeply disappointed by the attitude and behaviors of a majority of students in my school who have blocked their minds into accepting English.  At the mere mention of an English word, be it just ‘hello’, with cheeky looks on their faces they start to mock you as they try  their very best to don an impersonation of a ‘mat saleh’ which they failed horrificly.  I tried my very best to change their perspectives on learning English being the most difficult task and to accept that one has to try speaking the language to be good at it but I failed!  I refused to entertain them when they spoke to me in their local dialect and I imposed that they should at least speak to me in English eventhough it is jumbled up with many Malay words but they remained adamant that they did not want to try and in the end my English lessons were all conducted in Bahasa Melayu, a language they clearly understood. 

I kept on reminding all my students that it takes a lot of practice and effort for a person to be good in the language and it is insufficient with mere homework alone but sadly my advice had fallen on deaf ears.  You need to speak, eat and drink the language, if I may say, to get a firm grasp on it.  Sadly, that is not the situation laid on some English teachers' paths. Instead, we have stubborn students who want to get As or passes for English but are  lazy to bring their textbooks and dictionary, students who expect teachers to read their literature book aloud for them, to give free translation services, to ignore the fact that they haven’t completed their homework, to do this and to do that and the list is never ending.

It is not easy being an English teacher especially when professionals such as doctors, engineers or even religious teachers who themselves don’t give proper credit to it.  But it is even more so difficult when you are an English teacher in a society of adolescents who feel that life can go on without the perks of learning English.  These, are the walls that have been prohibiting my love for English to become an addiction among my students.  

It’s okay because I shall wait for the icing on the cake..but how can I get it when there is NO cake to ice?  Hahaha… Well, don’t get me wrong, this is just plain me printing my ramblings for the world to see… Hmm, guess I’ll have to cancel vacationing this December and focus on my cupcake least I know my invisible customers would not kill my love for baking.


Fely said...

Hello hello Scarlett!!! Another good blog for me to follow! Hope all's well with you. Muahs!!

Rosfida Abu Sufi said...

Hehehe...thanks! Hope it is entertaining.