Teaching the Literature Component in English: What can Secondary School Teachers do?

Synopsis

With the hope of increasing students’ language proficiency and critical analysis, a change, to incorporate the Literature Component in English into English language syllabus, in education curriculum is implemented in the Malaysian school. In its implementation, the question on what happens in Literature classes remains uncertain. Thus, the article explored the approaches employed by teachers to teaching the literature component in selected secondary schools in Sabah. The study was conducted in 15 urban secondary schools and used 112 English teachers. For data gathering, triangulation (questionnaire as the primary data, classroom observation, and focused interview) is used. A total of 87 teachers responded to the questionnaire, two teachers (English option teacher, a TESL graduate; and non-option teacher, a History graduate) were observed for four weeks and then were interviewed. Findings show that out of the 6 approaches in teaching of Literature, the paraphrastic approach (e.g. re-telling the text, using simple terms, and other related techniques) is popularly used by teachers, and it is followed by information-based approach (e.g. content explanation of the text, providing students with background information, and other related techniques). In line with these, the abovementioned approaches were well-observed in the case study. The reasons as to why these approaches were used are based on students’ language proficiency, attitude, the exam-oriented culture, the prescribed literary materials, and the number of students in classroom. Hence, the study concludes that teachers are in dilemma as to how their approaches match to the objectives of the Literature Component in English—generating students’ personal response and appreciation. Continue reading

“Are We Just Teaching Students To Pass A Test?”

 The Washback Effects of the TOEIC Examination on the  Teachers and Students of a Thai Business School

Introduction

In the article entitled “The Washback Effects of the TOEIC Examination on the Teachers and Students of a Thai Business School” Apichatrojanakul (2011) studied washback effect of TOEIC examination on teachers and students. To discuss washback, she based her explanation on her teaching experience and interviews with teachers and students. She found out that based on the findings it is conclusive that washback has positive and negative effects on teaching and learning. Thus, she concluded that a balance between teacher- and student-centered approach is advisable to attain the education goals, and schools must recognize washback for the preparation of TOEIC courses. As part of her recommendation, a further study must be conducted in other Thai school to study washback.

Summary

Washback is an effect of a test on teaching and learning. Based on the results, the study discovered the positive and negative washback of TOEIC on teachers and students. One positive effect for teachers is that they are able to help students pass TOEIC, which is a positive effect for students, and make teaching TOEIC courses more effective and faster. On the other hand, the negative effect of the TOEIC on the Thai school is that strategies of teachers are affected; for instance, the 4-mat model or the communicative approach is suspended. As a result, student-centered approach is abandoned leading to boredom, limited access to holistic learning, and lack of application of knowledge to real-life situations.

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Teaching Literature: “To be, or not to be: that is the question”

This is an article review in one of my subjects in the graduate school. To access the reviewed full text, click this link.

Synopsis

“Why do we teach Literature?” and “How could we do it better?” are the main questions explored by Michael LoMonico (2006), the author and a veteran teacher of English. He said that students should appreciate Literature as the way teachers do. Discovering the beauty of Literature, teachers are challenged to stay away from the old school of teaching: discussing plots, studying of characters, and knowing author’s biography, but to make their teaching methods innovative and creative. To make teaching better, LoMonico (2006) highlighted “performance”, letting students be creative and have fun like exploring how expressive they can say the lines. Then, in the context of teaching Shakespeare, he listed ten philosophy of how teachers can help students be Literature lovers and their class be more active.

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Paris Agreement Target of 1.5 Degree Celsius: Is It Ambitious or Late?

This news article has been published on Sun Star.

“Our house is burning down and we are blind to it,” said President Jacques Chirac of France during the 2012 World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa.

People nowadays have been well-informed about effects of climate change because of instantaneous spread of information on social media and news.

What is lacking up until now is the joint global action and desire to combat the adverse effects of climate change on both regional and national scale.

More environmental groups and organizations are more proactive in terms of raising climate change action and public awareness particularly among youth, which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change regards as the major agents contributing to the success of the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

In the Paris Agreement, a total of 177 countries have pledged their support to scale up global climate change action movement. The agreement comprised two global goals: “Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5oC, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

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Renewable Energy Use as Climate Change Mitigation Strategy

This news article has been published on Sun Star.

Stronger hurricanes, severe heat waves, devastating flood, water level rise, to name a few, are some of the confronting global environment issues the countries worldwide are confronting in this era of industrialization and globalization.

The world and human activities are highly dependent on energy sources, which have been dramatically polluting the concentration of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, in air that slowly increase temperature on the planet.

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change further explained that emission of greenhouse gases from the energy industry is one cause of climate change and global warming that threatens human survival and stability of global economy and giving deleterious effects on the environment.

One solution to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases is the use of renewable or “green” energy sources as mitigation strategy to combat the effects of climate change and mitigate greenhouse gases emission.

Renewable energy is obtained from natural resources such as sun light, wind, biomass, and so on. Renewable energy is sustainable, which means that it does not put the environment at risk, and can be produced locally and by the consumer as renewable energy is produced with local resources.

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Fossil Fuel Companies, Pay for Your Damages

Greenhouse gases, brought by the rolling of industrialization and continued misinformed human activities, cause catastrophic climate change, threatening human survival and environment and its effects being felt in every corner of the world.

Fossil fuel emission by companies is the single, biggest cause of this global environment concern, making it responsible for two thirds of climate change pollution. Climate change effects—droughts, tropical storms, sea-level rise, and increase temperature rise—are severe especially on the poorest countries and vulnerable people.

In 2013, the Philippines was hit by a super typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 6,000 people. Most affected were homeless, lost their love ones, and were trying to survive with no food, shelter, and clear drinking water. Support from the United Nations, US, Japan, and other countries came and the whole world saw the devastating effects of climate change, along with the joint camaraderie of each nation. Sadly, the following months, most affected regions of the Philippines were still in awe and devastated, most of the casualties are not rescued up until now and were buried by the overwhelming adverse effects of the typhoon.

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Companies To Stop Using Fossil Fuel or Out of UN Talks

Don’t you know that fossil fuels provide more than 85% of all energy people consume?

As countries develop, the energy demand brought by economic and population growth increases and the majority come from fossil fuels as they are easy to convert into energy.

The US Environment Protection Agency reported that 65% of greenhouse gases are generated by combustion of fossil fuel. Of which, 45% is from coal, 35% is from oil, and 20% is from natural gas.

Although it gives economic benefits, fossil fuels brings concern on environment as combustion of these fuels like crude oil and natural gas leads to global concerns such as acid rain and rising ozone levels, to name a few. However, economic growth brought by use of fossil fuel has lifted people out of poverty.

So, where do we draw the line?

polluters out

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Love Is Still Love After All

This was one of my assignments in the subject Language in Literature. We were tasked to describe love to a 5-year-old child. Here is how I’d do it, though according to my professor, the simplest way to do it is to link love to a balloon.

Love, love, and love…. What makes you so special that every human gets blind when love takes its form? Love is one of either the hardest term or the easiest term to define. Surely enough, there are many ways to define what L-O-V-E is, as creative as a person can be, such as, using synonyms, metaphor, experiences, etc.

While writing this, I myself find it hard to make my own definition of love but easy to adopt a definition made of others. What I can provide as of writing this is that love is a feeling of deep affection and of having a commitment to someone no matter what, making love unconditional; when out of words, I would just end up saying “love is love”. On the other hand, the easiest definition of love, which must be known to many and comes right away in my mind, is “love is blind”, “love moves in mysterious ways”, “love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind”, and the list of clichés about love is endless.

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Green Your Choice. Green Your Lifestyle

Everyone of us makes a thousand decisions everyday. A decision can be about how we live, what we talk about, what food we eat, how we travel, and even how we throw our garbage, and the decision either good or bad has a huge impact on the direction of our life and the Earth.
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Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), one of which is Climate Action connected to most SDGs, acknowledge the impact of “an informed and empowered public” on its success. In the Paris Agreement, 177 countries pledged their support to scale up global climate change action movement in recognition of the adverse effects of industrialization and misinformed human activities on our survival and the environment. Though environment policies have been made, what is still lacking is the joint global action and desire of people to join in the environment movement.

My journey as a steward of the environment started when I came up with my personal advocacy “Green Your Choice, Green Your Lifestyle” to raise public awareness on climate change action. My inspiration for this advocacy is to help lessen the impact of climate change because the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather catastrophe.

It was an eye-opener to me when in 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 Filipinos and affected 13 million of us. Most affected were homeless, lost their loved ones, and were trying to survive with no food, shelter, and clean drinking water. Support from different part of the world came, and the whole world saw the devastating effects of climate change, as well as the joint camaraderie of every nation.

Using my advocacy, I want to convey the message that even though a person is not part of any environment organization, one can do something for the environment. Being a youth, I want to inspire and educate the youth because they play the highest interest in the success of SDGs and to make them realize that “The fight against climate change is everyone’s responsibility.”

In the era of technology, the power of communication has been greater than ever, and I used this as tool to carry out my objectives. I made a poster and a video of my advocacy, which was given recognition internationally, and I have managed to raise awareness on television, newspaper, radio, and social media. Now, I am looking for ways to reach more people to make a difference.

The advocacy “Green Your Choice, Green Your Lifestyle” is grounded on how choice and its consequences can have an effect on climate change. In the video, I showed my easy-to-do, everyday environment-friendly practices, such as engaging with the community, and thus encourage people to make informed decisions and better lifestyle choices.

The advocacy does not have prescribed or given practices but encourages people to create their own version of green lifestyle for securing sustainable future and protecting the environment—achieving SDG of Climate Action.