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 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.