Marks allocation for the literature component:

Poem 5 marks
Novel 15 marks
Total 20 marks

Note that candidates will only be tested on NOVEL and POEMS.

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Complete Guide: QWERTYUIOP

Here's an extract:

Write about one of the characters that you like in the short story,


Miss Broome

Miss Broome was old Mr Bannister’s secretary for forty-three years. She typed letter by letter and she hated the young girls who touch-type without having to look at the keyboard. According to Harry Darke, the young girls gave Miss Broome “the push”. When her boss retired her after forty three years, she had no place to go, for the office was her home and the job was “all she lived for” (p25). Thus whenever a new girl came to work, her ghost which haunted the typewriter would scare the girl until she was too frightened to continue. Sure, Miss Broome was angry and vicious at first...

Complete Guide : The Curse

Complete Guide : The Curse

A Comprehensive Guide to The Curse

Here is an example from the Guide:


In this chapter we are introduced to Puan Kamsiah and her daughter, Siti. We are also introduced to Datuk Zulkifli and Datin Sharifah, who are Azreen’s foster parents; they are sponsoring Azreen’s studies in London. We also introduced to Puan Normala and Noor, her daughter. Noor and Siti are classmates.

Siti conveys to her mother what Noor has been telling her classmates that Madhuri has been murdered. Puan Kamsiah feels that the ‘wicked woman’(p12) Puan Normala is spreading ‘malicious lies’ (p12) about Madhuri and ‘the poor girl isn’t even properly laid to ground yet!’ (p12) When Siti quotes her mother’s description of Normala as ‘a slimy cobra with a three-forked tongue’ (p12), it gives us a hint of the character of Normala: She is, in fact, a busybody and the village gossip.

Guide to GULP and GASP

Guide to GULP and GASP


Yes, the most comprehensive guide on Ann Fine's Step by Wicked Step to help you prepare for your SPM English 1119 Exam is out. Chapter by chapter analysis with lots of explanatory notes to explain the plot, theme, and characters of this loving & touching story. Page references are given to save you the trouble of having to locate important texts and quotes.

Complete Guide to Poems

Complete Guide to Poems

Sample Question and Answer

What does it mean when the poet says but on their brows there was not a sign of despair?

It means that despite the difficult situation they were in, they did not show any sign of hopelessness.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Needs Analysis in Language Teaching

Recently I had the opportunity to teach an Intensive English course to a foreign student for one month. My slot was on Speaking. I was required to do a Needs Analysis, which I found quite useful as I was able to introduce speaking topics based on information obtained about his job, family, education, and interests.In the field of training and development, conducting a needs analysis on training participants is de rigueur. Yet, in schools, colleges and universities, it is almost unheard of.  Students could be asked to fill up a form at the beginning of the year to obtain not only general information but also the students' different learning styles. A good understanding of the students will go a long way in helping the teacher tailor his or her lessons based on their needs.

Click this LINK for more information.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lessons from a Stump

I've been looking at this stump for over two months since my wife felled the red palm that had graced our little garden for about 18 years. This once tall leggy beauty has now been reduced to a midgety dull, prosaic stump, standing there daily in our garden in stoical silence. Despite having been brought down from her lofty heights, she never complains- not a hush, nor a rustle; how could she. anyway, when she's been shorn of her glorious green plumage. No, no, I'm not getting sentimental over her loss; I'm no tree-hugging nature lover. One day, for no apparent reason, I decided to take a close look at her, and this is what I find most amazing: even in her death throes, she's giving life to others-tiny plants sprouting to life and feeding off her. Walaoyeh!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dateline: Sri Lanka, August 6, 2013
There I was climbing up the steps of this ancient heritage site: Sigiriya. At one of the stops to catch my breath, I was standing next to a French-speaking group when the local guide called out: Venez ici. Regardez! La statue de Buddha. Elle est plus grande! Imagine my excitement. I was able to understand what he was saying. Je peux comprenais! Bravo! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

What's your condition?

I often tell my students that English is a language where it's quite common to see writers making mistakes. A case in point is the opening sentence of a recent article in a local English daily: "If you live in Petaling Jaya, you would probably have heard of it. Three armed men rushed into a famous chilli crab restaurant shortly after closing time-and they were not looking for food".

The sentence in italics is a conditional sentence, but it's faulty. If the writer had intended to write in the "third conditional" the sentence should have been written thus: If you had lived in Petaling Jaya, you would probably have heard of it. However, we use the third conditional to express regrets for something that happened or didn't happen. Here's an example: If I hadn't missed the bus, I would have arrived at the office on time. It's quite obvious that the third conditional is not appropriate in this context.

The writer should have expressed his idea in the "first conditional": If you live in Petaling Jaya, you will/would probably know this. This sentence is possible as it expresses the idea that if the condition is fulfilled, the result is likely to happen. The use of would makes the writer's assertion more tentative.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Coma Way to Speaking a Foreign Language

For most people, learning a new language incurs many hours of formal classroom lessons and daily practice of reading, writing, listening and speaking. In the case of a Croatian teenager, she awoke from a coma in 2010 to find that she had forgotten her native Croatian and spoke fluent German instead - a language she had just started learning in school.

I'm relearning French the hard way. I learnt the language in university a long time ago and I've forgotten most of it. Anyway, I still prefer learning it the hard way to speaking the language effortlessly after some traumatic experience. Anyway, there's no guarantee that one would speak a foreign language after waking up from a coma. Worse still, what if, instead of speaking French, I end up speaking a dead language like Latin!? Quid agis!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Learning English by Listening

Having taught English for a good number of years, I have often reflected on how to help my students learn the language in the quickest way possible. I must say that there's no shortcut to learning English, or any other language for that matter. Much has been written about how one can learn a language through listening, so what I'm about to share here is nothing new. 

Listening. This skill is often overlooked in the school system. Today,students are fortunate in that they have easy access to a wealth of free listening resources on the Internet. A quick search on Youtube using the keywords English listening exercises reveals 140,000 results. Pick the ones that you like which might not be too difficult for you to understand. Listen to each video several times: Understand what is being said, and after having understood it, learn to speak like the person in the video. I'm not saying you should mimic the person's accent because you may end up speaking as though you're parroting the speaker. If the video is good, you'll somehow know it, learn to adopt the speaker's fluency, pacing, and pronunciation. You might also want to pay attention to the speaker's body language, for example, eye contact and hand gestures for emphasis. Do this over several videos. Not only will you learn the language but you'll also become a good public speaker. 

What are you waiting for? Go to Youtube now!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Charming Cherating

This Chinese New Year I made my way to Kuantan and onwards to my favourite spot in Cherating. As I've stopped swimming in chlorinated swimming pools, the few annual trips to any sea is something I always look forward to. There I was, soaking it all up in the South China Sea when an idiom nibbled at my toes and I found myself out of my depth! Gr-up-gr-up-gr-up...I was gasping for breath, struggling to keep my head above water when something gave me a swift tug and, before I knew it, I was plumbing the depths of the more than 5000 m deep South China Sea. I guess by now you're already saying that all this doesn't hold water - it's all bunk, a load of baloney!

Yeah, baloney, alright. I'm just having fun with some water-idioms. Good thing it wasn't a sea snake that nibbled my toes!

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


What can we learn from famous personalities, be they scientists, business icons or artists?

I can still recall the vivid tale we read in our science book eons ago about the discovery of the Archimedes Principle: the upthrust experienced by a body immersed in a fluid. Apparently, he proclaimed Eureka! - a word derived from the ancient Greek word heureka, meaning I find - when he stepped into a bathtub and understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body that was submerged. The story has it that he was so excited about his discovery that he ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting Eureka!

So, what can we learn from Archimedes apart from the amusing spectacle of a disheveled-looking flasher shouting Eureka!?

Was his discovery of the Archimedes Principle the result of a stroke of good luck, much like striking a lottery? Like Sir John Newton who discovered the law of gravity after an apple fell on his head, Archimedes's discovery was not pure luck. If at all it was luck, it was luck that was caused by the collision of two speeding cars: HARD WORK and OPPORTUNITY.


Apart from the one-in-a-million chance lottery winner, success for most people comes from hard work and perseverance. If Archimedes had not been thinking and working hard in trying to solve this problem, I doubt if he would have had his breakthrough Eureka moment.