September 2018 Launch!

September 2018 Launch!
"Read Aloud! Hilarious and Entertaining!" - Yong Lee Lian, Principal, Cambridge for Life, Selangor.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Kids love rhymes and so do the parents. Think about the many hours of fun that you had reading nursery rhymes to your kids : the alliterative sounds of Hickory Dickory Dock; the repetitive rhyme-song, Polly Put the Kettle On; the exciting huffing and puffing of The 3 Little Pigs, and countless other memorable rhymes.

These rhymes never go out of fashion despite the pervasive influence of cable TV and smartphones. and it's a great way to get children hooked on the language. And, I think it's not only kindergarteners and elementary school kids who love rhymes ; rhymes will also appeal to secondary school students if they are well-chosen to suit their age level and interest. Here's a rhyme I wrote recently for my new book:

I see the moon
The moon sees me
I smile at the moon
The moon smiles at me
I wink at the moon
The moon winks at me
I frown at the moon
The moon frowns at me
I scratch my eyebrow
The moon scratches her eyebrow
I say goodnight
She turns off the light.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Essay Writing in the UPSR English Exam - Paper 014

In Paper 014, one of the questions requires candidates to write a picture composition between 80-100 words. This is what the instructions for the question say:

"You may use the words given to help you."

 Students should use the given words in their writing as the words explain the plot or key events in the story. The difficulty many students face is to write their composition within the number of words specified. From experience, it is better to write between 90 and 100 words as your composition would then cover enough details to make the story more interesting. If your writing is about 80-90 words, it could make the story weaker in terms of the development of your plot. Here's an example from my e-learning course that you can find at my website: :

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Man Saved Elephant in London Zoo.

“Elephants love reunions. They recognize one another after years and years of separation and greet each other with wild, boisterous joy. There's bellowing and trumpeting, ear flapping and rubbing. Trunks entwine.”  ― Jennifer Richard JacobsonSmall as an Elephant

I visited Bangalore, India, twice in 2001. In my second visit, I had a chance encounter with a 500- year-old sage who related to me an anecdote about an animal. I vouch that this incident really took place because it involved a world-famous personality. The story goes…

Some time in the 1920s, India gifted an elephant to the London Zoo in England. The elephant was a big draw for the zoo and it attracted huge crowds. For about five or six weeks the elephant behaved well and visitors were even allowed to get close to the elephant to touch it. However, its behavior changed and it became a danger not only to the visitors but also the elephant keeper. The zoo had no choice but to put the elephant down before it killed someone. Instead of simply killing the elephant, the zoo authorities advertised in the papers inviting the public to witness the event. In that way they could also raise money for the zoo. The Indian gomen was duly informed about the decision.

The fateful day came and thousands of people came to witness the event. A speech was made and soldiers held up their guns ready to shoot. At that point, a man rushed forward to stop the shooting: ‘Let me talk to the elephant.’ The crowd roared with aghast. ‘Is that man crazy? The elephant will trample him!’ someone shouted. After listening to the man’s explanation and assurance, the zoo keeper relented. So, this man, who was no more than 158 cm, approached the elephant cautiously. He kept a distance of about 2.0 m from the elephant. The elephant raged and it looked like it was going to break the chains. He muttered a few sentences to the elephant-almost  prayer-like.  The elephant seemed to calm down after that. The man took a few measured steps towards the elephant. The crowd held their breath. The man stepped quite close to the elephant and almost whispered into its ears. Soon after he was able to get close to the elephant and pat its trunk. The elephant wagged its tail happily and trumpeted. It also shed some tears. The crowd burst into thunderous applause!

After that public spectacle, the zoo authorities decided not to kill the elephant.

Here’s a question for you: What did the man say to the elephant?

Answer : 
The Englishman knew the elephant when he was living in India. I don't know what he said to the elephant, but he spoke in Hindi - the language the elephant was familiar with. This man was Rudyard Kipling, the English short story writer, poet and novelist whose works include Jungle Book and Kim.

NOTE:  I read this story many years ago, so there may be some inaccuracies with the dates and some other details. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

'Docile' Snow Monkeys in Monkey Park, Kyoto

Let me begin with a Monkey Doggerel:

Is it Zen?
Kai Zen?
Or Sake-in-

A couple of weeks ago ma famille and I visited Monkey Park in Kyoto's Arashiyama district. After a short climb, we came to the park, which is the home of snow monkeys. These monkeys live in the wilds but they appear quite docile. I've seen monkeys in the hills of Kuala Selangor and elsewhere where they would come up close to visitors and snatch their plastic bags or food. Why do these snow monkeys behave so well unlike their counterparts in Malaysia and other countries? Does it mean that Malaysian monkeys are less disciplined? Do these snow monkeys also have the discipline that Japanese people are well-known for?

When we arrived at the foot of the hill, we had to purchase our park entrance tickets. We were told to leave our bags there at no charge. Visitors also have to observe some rules or advice such as not to look the monkeys in the eyes and not to feed them in the open. At the park, there's a small shop where you can buy food to feed the monkeys. The shop has an annex with wire netting where visitors go to to feed the monkeys. We didn't go into the shop; so we didn't feed the monkeys. From the outside, looking at the visitors feeding the monkeys from inside the annex, I just couldn't help but feel that the roles had been reversed.

Back to the question of why these snow monkeys appear to be so well-bahaved. Well, the park authorities didn't set out to train or discipline the monkeys. They discipline the visitors by imposing rules before they ascend the hill. When all visitors do not carry bags, there's nothing for them to snatch. Feeding of the monkeys is also confined to a certain spot by having the visitors "caged" in the annex. Over time, these snow monkeys get used to going to the annex for their food. Elementary Pavlovian psychology.

Quite often when I pose this question to people, the common answer is to train the monkeys. In this case, the park authorities "train" or "discipline" the visitors so as to synchronize their behavior with that of the monkeys'.

Note: 'Iie' in Japanese means 'No'.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Joy of Traveling

I was bitten by the travel bug very early in my teens. I remembered the time when I hitch-hiked with my classmates to Penang and Singapore after our exams. Since then, I have traversed this earth to more than a dozen countries, and still I yearn to travel more. I find traveling an enriching experience. It gives me the opportunity not only to see the sights of the places I visit but also to interact with the local people.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Do we apostrophe 's' or don't we?

That diminutive symbol which marks a noun to signal possession or ownership was the subject of an amusing discussion in my workplace not long ago. Yes, I mean the apostrophe. We place the apostrophe right after the proper or common noun to indicate that someone or something belongs to the person or thing in question. Here are some examples: the woman's dog; the boy's bike; the city's residents; the cat's tail; the car's doors; Dora's car; Nora's husband; James' skis; Jesus' teachings; the women's dogs; the children's school; the boys' teacher; the girls' bags.

The example, the car's keys may run into trouble with strict grammar rules which restrict ownership to only living things. In this case, a car cannot own keys. To circumvent this problem, some writers would phrase it as the car doors, where the words car and doors are taken together as a noun. Likewise, it may be awkward to say the table's legs. Instead, we would say the table legs are broken, for example. So far, so good, but what about lamp's bulb. I have no trouble with that although strict grammarians may insist on saying the bulb of the lamp.

The use of the apostrophe with proper nouns such as Nora's husband presents no difficulty. However, traditionalists may argue that James' skis would be out of sync with the traditional rule that requires the letter 's' after the apostrophe for names that end with 's' as in James's skis. The same rule says that it's not necessary to have the letter 's' for Biblical or classical names as in Jesus' teachings and Hippocrates' Oath. The trend now ignores this traditional rule and it's common to see writers writing Jess' speech alongside Jesus' teachings. I think Jesus wouldn't object to that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Your Creative Meridian Point

You might find this hard to believe: The meridian point for one's creative energy lies somewhere between the hallux and the second toe. Whenever I run into one of those writer's blocks, I'd wiggle my toes in order to stimulate the release of the creative qi. This stimulation often results in a tingling in my tailbone followed by an electric current coursing through my spine, and, finally, a heightened sense of awareness, bringing with it a thunderclap of a new idea or a burst of new ideas. You don't really believe this, do you?