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Monday, January 28, 2013

How to Improve English from 'D' to 'A'

Celine Wan
Written by Celine Wan. A version of this article first appeared in The Star Online with the headline: How a single letter changed my life!. If you'd like to guest post check out our Write for Malaysia Students Blog page for details about how YOU can share your tips with our community of 13,000+ student readers in Malaysia.

Celine Wan is currently on a gap year not exactly by choice, but she is living and loving it. She will be pursuing her degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge. To know more about Celine Wan, you can visit www.about.me/celinewan


The Letter from the Alphabet

By Celine Wan

It was said that words could make or break a person’s day. Yet for my case, a letter from the alphabet had ruined mines.

When my class teacher handed over my report card to me, I kept staring at it in disbelief, for a letter D had tainted a score report that would otherwise be filled with nothing but a string of As. As I checked which subject was responsible for ruining my first examination of the year, I was even more shocked to realise that the subject “English” was the cause of my staggering D.

This poignant experience occurred in 2008. During that time, I had just converted from a Malay-speaking school to an English-speaking one. Everything was a big change, ranging from the studying system to the school environment. Also, as I had once lived in a rural area and was transferred from a public school ranked very poorly in the state to one of the best private schools in the country, to nearly fail my best subject has made me realise that I was deluded to regard myself as an outstanding student in English. I was even dumbfounded to discover that my examination will be assessed based on an empty booklet that I was supposed to write in.

After acknowledging the fact that I almost failed English, I started to make a habit to write often. During my first attempt to write a long essay, I became stupefied. Never could I imagine that to present my inner thoughts in an empty space could be so difficult. When I held my pen and stared at the empty piece of paper, I began to realise that I was not ready to creatively describe my imagination in a form of words. Disappointed, I thought, “How could I find such difficulty in expressing my inner voice when a blank piece of paper portrays the fact that such possibilities are endless?” It is no secret that there is no constraint in placing a plethora of words to show a presence of life through language. So what was my problem?

The entire situation was exacerbated when I had discovered that I would not be promoted to the next grade the following year if I were to fail in any subject—what more failing a subject as important as the English language. Hence, desperate to do something about this blatant D before my finals, I tried seeking help.

Common advice was to read regularly. I personally felt that time was severely limited for I was actively involved in extra-curricular and had other subjects to focus on. However, I complied with such clichés and eventually picked up the reading habit. In the following examination, the improvement was nowhere apparent. This time, I have changed my strategy in reading: instead of just focusing on what was written, I have diverted some of my attention to how it was written. In other words, there was a paradigm shift in how I analysed written passages. It was then I viewed writing in a whole new light.

Since I have started to collect books from the same authors, I noticed how each author has his or her unique writing styles. For a moment there, I knew that through practice in writing, I too, would find and develop my own distinctive style. Why is that so? In my own opinion, it is because writing is analogous to allowing others to engage in your thought processes. With this, it is also an avenue for you to be in full control of sharing to the world something as intimate as your thoughts. Therefore, it was no wonder that writing styles were so different: everyone’s mind works differently.

However different a person’s writing style is though, they still share something similar if well written. Some of the few common factors I have noticed are their ability to be emotionally moving, thought provoking, and attention engaging. With these three elements, their unique art of conveying their ideas could bring their story to life.

In my own personal finding, a few of the most important elements to bring life through words are through vivid descriptions. After reading in a different perspective, only then did I realise that my failure as a writer was due to my ignorance towards my surroundings, which then culminated to my lack of skill in bringing experiences through the description of the richness of minute details. With all of this bearing in mind, I edged to my writing desk.

Blank pieces of paper looked less daunting now and after several attempts to describe the sounds and sights so mundane that they once hardly evoked my imagination; every seemingly nameless detail became amplified to present the augmented beauty through its very being. How amusing a thought that I had once denied myself access to such tranquility because I could not let go of my thoughts, dreams, and woes. By the end of my academic year, it was not the A in English that I am most proud of, but the consistent habit of appreciating the myriad of simple pleasures people have more often than not disregard. To me, my change in character as an observer has elicited the greatest sense of gratification. In fact, it is with this ideology that I plan to carry on in my future endeavours and daily applications.

A letter D from the alphabet has changed the way I view the world. Gone are the days when my mind is filled with scattering thoughts or brimmed with staggering ideas when trying to pen anything down: I have learnt to organise my thoughts and jot serendipities down when required. The harmful letter from the alphabet may have once ruined my day, but more importantly, something as ‘meaningless’ as this letter has saved me from the world of ignorance. I am glad that I have embraced what I had once called a failure and hardship. Thank you dear letter from the alphabet, you have saved and improved my life.

Recommended Reading: 10 Practical Tips on How to Improve Your English


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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Students to Get 1Malaysia Book Vouchers Year 2013 (Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M 2.0) in February

Update: Read 1Malaysia Book Voucher (Baucar Buku 1Malaysia, BB1M) 2014 Promotions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on 1Malaysia Book Voucher Year 2013

  1. Who are eligible for 1Malaysia Book Voucher Year 2013 (Baucar Buku 1Malaysia, BB1M)?
    • Malaysian nationality;
    • Reside in Malaysia during the execution period of BB1M;
    • Currently studying or have active status at matriculation colleges, form six, polytechnics, local public or private universities (IPTA/IPTS) from January 1 until March 31, 2013;
    • Study at education institutions approved and supervised by Ministry of Higher Education;
    • Both full-time and part-time students are eligible;
    • All students at Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) / matriculation colleges / foundation programme / form 6 STPM / Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) / A-Level / diploma / advanced diploma / degree / masters / PhD / professional courses with level higher than diploma and recognized by government or professional bodies in Malaysia such as Malaysian Institute Of Accountants (MIA), The Malaysian Institute Of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA), The Institution Of Engineers Malaysia, Lembaga Jurutera Malaysia, Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia, Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia, Lembaga Juruukur Bahan Malaysia, Lembaga Juruukur Tanah Malaysia, Lembaga Penilai, Penaksir dan Agen Hartanah dan The Institution Of Surveyors Malaysia;

  2. Are students of certificate programme eligible to receive 1Malaysia Book Vouchers?
    No, they are not eligible.

  3. What is the total value of the 1Malaysia Book Vouchers given to each student?
    As announced in Malaysia Budget 2013, each students will receive 5 vouchers (each RM50) with total value RM250. There is an increase of RM50 compared with BB1M 1.0 distributed in 2012.

  4. How do I apply or register for Baucar Buku 1Malaysia (BB1M)?
    You do not need to apply or register. Your name will be submitted by your education institutions. For confirmation, please check with your respective education institutions.

  5. When shall I collect my 1Malaysia Book Vouchers?
    Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M 2013 will be distributed starting from February 2013 at your respective education institutions. Please check with your education institutions for the actual dates as they might vary from one college to another.
    Update: The book vouchers will most probably be distributed to students in mid February after the students return to universities from the semester break.

  6. When will the Baucar Buku 1Malaysia (BB1M) expire?
    They are valid from 1 January 2013 until 31 May 2013.

  7. Where can I use these Baucar Buku 1Malaysia (BB1M)?
    You can use them as cash vouchers at all participating bookstore nationwide by showing your IC.
  8. Baucar Buku 1Malaysia Book Voucher Promotion by Popular Bookstore
    • List of bookstore took part last year:
      1. BookXcess,
      2. Borders,
      3. Kinokuniya,
      4. MPH,
      5. Popular,
      6. Times and
      7. College/university's bookstore.
    • Note: Usually bookstore will have special promotions or deals for 1Malaysia Book Vouchers so please check at the cashier counter first. Last year for example, Borders give away free Starbuck coupons and membership cards to those who pay using 1Malaysia Book Vouchers.

      BB1M Baucar Buku 1Malaysia Book Voucher Promotion MPH Bookstore
      This year Popular Bookstore has already announced the special promotion - Free RM50 Popular gift voucher and Popular membership card for those who spend RM250 1Malaysia Book Vouchers or Free RM10 Popular gift voucher and Popular membership card for those who spend RM150 1Malaysia Book Vouchers.

      BB1M Baucar Buku 1Malaysia Book Voucher Promotion Borders Bookstore
      Update 4/2/2013: MPH Bookstore too has launched its special BB1M promotions: Spend RM250 BB1M book vouchers and get RM10 MPH book voucher or spend RM150 BB1M book vouchers and get RM5 MPH book voucher

      Update 5/2/2013: Borders Bookstore: Spend RM250 Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M & Get Borders discount vouchers, RadioShack Batteries, Chatime beverage, BCard + Voucher booklet, Starbucks beverage and Krispy Kreme doughnuts / Spend RM150 Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M & Get Borders discount vouchers, BCard + Voucher booklet and Starbucks beverage

      Update 28/2/2013: Kinokuniya Books: Spend RM200 with BB1m vouchers, Get RM20 rebate voucher; Spend RM250 with BB1M vouchers, Get RM20 rebate voucher + Kinokuniya Limited Edition Journal
      Kinokuniya Books 1 Malaysia Book Vouchers (BB1M) Deal
  9. Can I sell the 1Malaysia Book Vouchers to others or transfer the ownership to others?
    NO, some were caught selling them last year.
1Malaysia Book Vouchers 2013 (Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M 2.0)
1Malaysia Book Vouchers 2013 (Baucar Buku 1Malaysia BB1M 2.0)
Source: Baucar Buku 1Malaysia (BB1M) 2013 Guide by Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia


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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Malaysia Public Holidays 2013 Calendar (Kalendar Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Malaysia)

2013 Calendars:
Malaysia School Holiday 2013 Calendar (Kalendar Persekolahan, Tarikh Cuti Sekolah, Takwim Malaysia 2013)
UPSR, PMR, SPM, SPMU & STAM 2013 Examination Dates / Calendar (Kalendar Takwim Peperiksaan)

Malaysia Public / National / Federal Holidays 2013 Calendar (Kalendar Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Persekutuan Malaysia)
  1. January 24 (Thursday): Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Nabi Muhammad S.A.W. / Maulidur Rasul)
  2. February 10 (Sunday): Chinese New Year (Tahun Baru Cina)
    February 11 (Monday): Chinese New Year Second Day (Tahun Baru Cina Hari Kedua)
  3. May 1 (Wednesday): Labour Day (Hari Pekerja)
  4. May 24 (Friday): Vesak Day (Hari Wesak)
  5. June 1 (Saturday): Agong's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong)
  6. * August 8 (Thursday): Hari Raya Puasa
    * August 9 (Friday) Hari Raya Puasa (Hari Kedua)
  7. August 31 (Saturday): National Day (Hari Kebangsaan)
  8. September 16 (Monday): Malaysia Day (Hari Malaysia)
  9. * October 15 (Tuesday): Hari Raya Haji / Qurban
    * October 16 (Wednesday): Hari Raya Haji / Qurban Hari Kedua
  10. * November 2 (Saturday): Deepavali (Hari Deepavali)
  11. November 5 (Tuesday): Awal Muharam (Maal Hijrah)
  12. December 25 (Wednesday): Christmas (Hari Krismas)
Malaysia Public / National / Federal Holidays 2013 Calendar (Kalendar Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Persekutuan Malaysia)

State Holidays 2013 (Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Negeri)
  1. January 1 (Tuesday): New Year 2013 (Tahun Baru 2013)
  2. January 14 (Monday): Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan)
  3. January 20 (Sunday): Sultan of Kedah's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kedah)
  4. January 27 (Sunday): Hari Thaipusam
  5. February 1 (Friday): Federal Territory Day (Hari Wilayah Persekutuan)
  6. February 11 (Monday): Chinese New Year Second Day (Tahun Baru Cina Hari Kedua)
  7. March 4 (Monday): Anniversary of Installation of Sultan of Terengganu (Hari Ulang Tahun Pertabalan Sultan Terengganu)
  8. March 29 (Friday): Good Friday
  9. April 15 (Monday): Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City (Hari Perisytiharan Melaka Sebagai Bandaraya Bersejarah)
  10. April 19 (Friday): Sultan of Perak's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Perak)
  11. April 26 (Friday): Sultan of Terengganu's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Terengganu)
  12. May 7 (Tuesday): Hari Hol Pahang
  13. May 17 (Friday): Raja Perlis' Birthday (Hari Ulang Tahun Keputeraan Raja Perlis)
  14. May 30 (Thursday): Harvest Festival (Pesta Kaamatan / Pesta Menuai)
  15. May 31 (Friday): Harvest Festival (Pesta Kaamatan / Pesta Menuai)
  16. June 1 (Saturday): Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak
  17. June 2 (Sunday): Perayaan Hari Gawai Dayak
  18. June 6 (Thursday): Israk dan Mikraj
  19. July 7 (Sunday): Georgetown World Heritage City Day (Hari Ulang Tahun Perisytiharan Tapak Warisan Dunia)
  20. * July 10 (Wednesday): Awal Ramadan
  21. July 13 (Saturday): Penang Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Pulau Pinang)
  22. July 26 (Friday): Hari Nuzul Al-Quran
  23. September 7 (Saturday): Sarawak Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak)
  24. October 5 (Saturday): Sabah Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah)
  25. October 12 (Saturday): Malacca Governor's Birthday (Hari Jadi Yang di-Pertua Negeri Melaka)
  26. * October 16 (Wednesday): Hari Raya Qurban / Haji Hari Kedua
  27. October 24 (Thursday): Sultan of Pahang's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Pahang)
  28. November 11 (Monday): Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kelantan)
  29. November 12 (Tuesday): Sultan of Kelantan's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Kelantan)
  30. November 22 (Friday): Sultan of Johor's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Johor)
  31. December 9 (Monday): Hari Hol Almarhum Sultan Iskandar
  32. December 11 (Wednesday): Sultan of Selangor's Birthday (Hari Keputeraan Sultan Selangor)
Note: * Subject to change (Tertakluk kepada perubahan).
JADUAL HARI KELEPASAN AM NEGERI 2013 MALAYSIA

KALENDAR HARI KELEPASAN AM NEGERI 2013 MALAYSIA

Source: Bahagian Kabinet, Perlembagaan Dan Perhubungan Antara Kerajaan, Jabatan Perdana Menteri


► Read more on Malaysia Public Holidays 2013 Calendar (Kalendar Jadual Hari Kelepasan Am Malaysia)

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