Testing Reading

9 04 2011

Reading is one of the language components which is always tested in both English achievement and proficiency test. In this passage, I would like to share three reading testing methods suggested by Hughes (2000). The three are multiple-choice test, unique answer and short –answer test. Example will be given in explanation of each type of testing method.

First of all, multiple-choice test items is a common device for text comprehension. In any multiple-choice item, the question is followed by three to five options. The answer to the question is called key while the other options are called distractors. It is vey time-consuming in preparing a good and reliable multiple choice test. However, it is easy to evaluate a multiple choice test as it is a machine markable technique. Multiple-choice test is a test with high reliability as markers’ judgment is not involved in the marking process.


In the unique answer reading test suggested by Hughes (2000), there is only one possible correct response. It might be a single word or number, or something slightly longer. For example, “China” ; “The boy with a hat” and “School teachers”. Unique answer testing method is knowledge based. It is easy for a teacher to mark the unique answer test as the answers for the questions are limited. But, its use is necessarily limited as it is not an integrative skill involving actual reading.

Third method to test students’ reading discussed here is the short-anwer tests. Short-anwer tests are extremely useful for testing reading comprehension (Weir 1993). In a SAQ technique, the students are asked to give an answer to a question. This might be a single word or number or slightly longer phrase. The answers may vary and will be scored for the accuracy of content instead of the writing ability.






Hughes, A. 2000. Testing for language teachers.  United Kingdom: Cambridge University.

Weir, C. J. 1993. Understanding & Developing Language Tests. New York: Prentice Hall.



Teaching Listening

9 04 2011

Some teachers claim that the students should first hear a new language target before they come to speak or produce the target language (Paul 2003). There is a strong evident to support this view of theirs. A baby first listens to a language before he can speak the language and later write the language. Thus, listening skill is essential to be taught in the classroom for a purpose to aid the students’ in their learning of other skills to master a language.

It is important for a teacher to encourage the students to listen to English as often as possible. But we have to bear in mind that students have to listen to English of an appropriate level. The level should not be too easy or too difficult for them as it will cause the students to lose their motivation in listening.

I still remember at one time my secondary teacher, Madam Kong, who used a song to conduct a listening lesson in our classroom. It is a very interesting listening lesson to me. In the beginning of the listening class, Madam Kong gave us a lyric of a song “Seasons in the Sun”. Some words were missing in the lyric. Later, she played a song and asked us to listen to the song carefully in order to fill in the blanks in the lyric she had given to us.

Refer below for the powerpoint file created by me that you can use to conduct a similar listening lesson for your students. Please be reminded that the song is better to play twice so that the students can have more chance in listening and getting more accurate answers.

Listening Task



Paul, D. 2003. Teaching English to children in Asia. Hong Kong: Longman Asia.


Creating Interactive Games to Teach Literature Yourself

1 04 2011

Literature is an excellent method to introduce other varieties of English. Literature is able to open up multi-traditional aspects of human life, which encourages students to broaden their horizons. According to Muniandy et al. (2010), by introducing literatures that is very much Malaysian, students will be exposed to new uses and forms of their own language.

The ministry of Education has introduced English Literature as a subject into the secondary school curriculum. This subject is claimed to be able to replace PPSMI (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik dalam Bahasa Inggeris , which is planned to be abolished in 2012, to play a role to improve English language proficiency among the students.

There are several teaching approaches such as video, role play, dramatisation, questioning that can be used in teaching literature to the students. In this essay, I will suggest the use of interactive game produced by an application called “Hot Potatoes” in teaching literature. Below is a simple interactive task that is created using “Hot Potatoes” to teach a short story “QWERTYUIOP” to the form four students. The game requires the students to arrange the events in the short story in a correct sequence. Students can evaluate thenselves by click the button “Check” after they finished their events arrangement. Teacher interruption in the task accomplishment is at minimum level. Thus, students can practice independent learning in their task fulfillment.

An Interactive Game

You can download the tutorial and installer of Hot Potatoes from http://hotpot.uvic.ca/ to create your own interactive games. It is a simple application to be utilised.




Muniandy, Mohan K., Nair, Gopala Krishnan Sekharan, Krishnan @ Shanmugam, Shashi Kumar, InnaAhmad,         Norashikin Mohamed Noor. 2010. Sociolinguistic competence and Malaysian students’ English language proficiency. English Language Teaching 3(3): 145-151.

A Century Speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

30 03 2011

Shared by: JOHNNY TIANG KAH HOE (A126075)

English as a legacy of English colonial in our country always play an important role in our society. Mastery of English language will enable us to be competitive globally. But, unfortunately, standard of English seems to decline among the students currently in Malaysia compared to the pass. One of the reasons for the decline is claimed to be the phasing out of English as a medium of instruction in Education starting from 1967.

It is interesting to find out that those who are more effective in communication experience more success in school and in other areas of their lives (Hare, 2003; Mead & Rubin, 1985). Thus, as teachers, we should always aim to improve students’ speaking skills. We should always encourage the students to use English in the classroom as well as outside the classroom. We can also expose to some good speeches where they can learn from the speakers and inspired to be a good speaker. Here, I attach a transcript of an excellent speech entitle “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Junior and a video of him during the speech. The argument in his speech is strong and able to reach the heart of the listeners.

Transcript of “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King Junior, 1963.

Taken from:http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: “For Whites Only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Teaching Grammar in a Fun Way

30 03 2011

For the course work fulfillment of Action Research GV 3053, my group partner and I have conducted several teaching sessions in Impact Learning Tuition Centre with six lower secondary pupils. In our first teaching, we taught our pupils “simple past tense”. We applied two teaching methods in our lesson. Both methods used video downloaded from YouTube.

In the first video clip, students were first told what “Simple Past Tense” is. Then, examples are given to them in order to let them have a better understanding. This process is clearly a top-down approach. It lets the students to get the general idea of the past tense before they further explore the details concerning “simple past tense”.


In the second video clip, students were shown some funny actions that were done by cats. At the end of the video, we asked the students to recall the actions they saw are in the video clip. We wrote down all the students’ answer on the white board. After that, we aided the students to change the actions they mentioned into past tense form. We summarised the section by telling the students what “simple past tense” is. Therefore, it is a bottom-up teaching approach.



Our students were much more active during the session we showed them the second video compared to the first video clip. In my opinion both top down and bottom up teaching approach is useful in helping the students to learn. It depends on the students’ learning style to decide which approach is better. In our case, the students are from lower secondary form, so, there is a need for us to guide them from bottom to conceptualisation.


29 03 2011

Writing is an essential skill required by the students in order to express themselves in their learning. However, generally, writing is claimed to be the most difficult among the four language skills (Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening).

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” Joseph Heller, an American satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright.

This essay will discuss why it is important to have writing in elementary and secondary school. Besides, an image adapted from http://www.squidoo.com/FreeWriting which consists of the writing rules that one will ever need in his or her writing.

The most important reason for teaching writing is to enable the students to learn a target language more deeply. Writing requires students to understand the topic given. Besides, it involves the use of vocabulary and grammar. Thus, having writing tasks in a language class will encourage the students to apply what they have been taught in the class.

Secondly, writing is important in aiding teachers and parents to identify the students’ weaknesses in the target language. At the same time, the students’ writing can serve as records for themselves. They can look back and see clearly their own progress in language learning.

There are many rules in writing that proposed by the expertise in teaching writing. It is hard to explain them all. Thus, I would like to share with you an interesting image that I came across recently. It claimed that there are only 12.5 rules in writing that we will ever need.

12.5 ???

Lecture on 14th of January

19 01 2011

On 14th of January, Doctor Rosseni gave us a lecture. She looks so young and caused me to think that all lecturers teaching computer or technology course will look far younger than their actual age. In the beginning of the lecture, we were told that there were some students from Indonesia in our lecture. They came to pay us a visit. All of them look friendly and humble.

In the lecture, Doctor Rosseni let us watch two video clips. One of the video is done by her son. I was impressed by the effort of the video makers. They must have spent plenty of their time to come out with the product. Besides, their video taking angle and creativity are very impressing. In addition, there are some moral values we can learn from the videos. The two videos are great samples that make me clearer with the assignment that I am going to do for this course. We have to make a good video that consists of moral values.  Though it will be a tough job, I am willing to try my best to pick up the challenge.