Saturday, March 26, 2011

News: The Oxford-English Dictionary Adds '♥' and 'LOL' as Words

The Oxford-English Dictionary Adds '♥' and 'LOL' as Words
Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

The Oxford-English Dictionary just added 45,436 new phrases as words, and among them is the first symbol to ever grace the volume, '♥.'

The tome that often sets the English language apparently likes to stay current, adding words every three months. Some frequent online acronyms are also now approved by The Authority, giving instant relief to word nazis during instant message conversations all across the world. Phrases like FYI, OMG and LOL? They're totally legit now.

So, why add ♥ as a word? A spokesperson clarified, “While symbols do become spelt-out words relatively frequently, it is usually only with a mundane meaning as the name of the symbol… It's very unusual for it to happen in such an evocative and tangential way.”

There is also some new, not-quite-as-fun words getting some recognition in the dictionary. The other ones include ‘muffin top,' ‘singledom' (something usually noticed on Valentine's day), ‘banh mi' (a Vietnamese sandwich), and ‘dotbomb' (see the late 90s for reference).

For more on the new words, check out TIME Newsfeed's story on the new entries.

Read more:

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Aspirasi Angkasawan by Mohammed Faiz Kamaludin

Dear Readers,

This book is a must read for Malaysians who are keen to know the criteria and how to be selected for the next opportunity as Malaysia's second astronaut.

Its also an informative read for teachers who may want to apply or to be informed about what it requires to be shortlisted as an astronaut.

The book covers details about the Malaysian Astronaut Programme, the initial selection stages, intensive and exhaustive medical tests including aero-type selection medical tests, survival skills tests, interview and the final selection in Russia.

There's lots of photographs, detailed charts and tables. Its in full colour and will make an excellent coffee table book.

Its written in Bahasa Melayu (Malay) and written from the perspective of one who just missed being selected as the final candidate because of a medical condition.

Personally, I believe anybody can now fly to outer space and back. Remember Christa McAucliffe who was only a History teacher but managed to overcome all odds to be selected and to go on board the ill-fated Colombia Space Shuttle.

Well, dream on teachers of Malaysia (and the world)!

Rodney Tan

P.S. Book costs RM25.90 but with a Popular bookstore card, members can get a 10% discount.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Optical Illusion: To teach Comparison

Dear All,

Attached with this post is a picture of two identical shapes which when placed together, one would look bigger than the other.

You can enlarge and print it out. Use a card stock paper or you can print it out and stick it to a card before cutting out the two shapes.

This illusion can be used to teach the structure: "Which is bigger?"

It can also be used as an icebreaker, warmer, set induction or enrichment after teaching comparisons.


Rodney Tan

P.S. There are clear instructions and explanations printed on the two cards.
Click on the picture to get a bigger picture.
Got these from the Petroscience Centre situated at KLCC (Petronas Twin Tower) in Kuala Lumpur.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Lesson Activities: Debate about the Nuclear Industry

Dear All,

The disaster that befell Japan is really heart breaking: being hit by a magnitude 9 earthquake, a devastating tsunami within minutes of the earthquake and the resultant damage to the nuclear power plants.

In Malay, there's a proverb which goes like this: "Sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga" meaning having been struck down by a tragedy, but before one can begin to recover, one is struck down by another bad tragedy.

Anyway, the latest ETp or English Teaching Professional magazine had a spread on an English learning lesson about nuclear power plants.

Below are the activities for you to try out with your students.

Do provide any feedback.


Rodney Tan

P.S. Please subscribe to this magazine as it is a great and interesting resource for creative and quality lessons for our English language lessons. I've been a loyal subscriber for the last 7 years!
Website:  Click on the picture to get an A4 size picture.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Poem (with nice backgrounds): Philosophy on Growing Old by George Carlin

Dear All,

Here's a series of slides by a well-beloved American poet, George Carlin.

It's on Growing Old and it comes with beautiful scenery for your enjoyment.

It'll be great for a discussion on how students view ageing.

Email me for the Powerpoint version at

Rodney Tan

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspiring Personality: Nick Vujicic (No Arms, No Legs, No Worries)

Dear All,

Nick Vujicic, an Australian is a great motivator of youth and an inspiring person.

Born without any limbs (no hands, no legs), he wanted to end his life but God had greater plans for him.

Being an inspiring speaker, he motivates people to achieve their full potential and to fulfil their dreams eventhough they were born without a silver spoon or they were brought into this world as a handicapped.

Inspite of his disability, Nick is still able to do many things like a normal person but with some modification and creativity. Incredibly, he had managed to obtain a double degree along the way. He has learnt to type well.

There are lots of other videos about him on YouTube and he also has his own website.

An inspiration and a real life hero for our students.


Rodney Tan


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

News: China Makes Unprecendented English-language Push

Dear All,

This is another piece of news about China's seriousness and determination to master the English Language as part of its national goal to achieve success in fields such as the economy, tourism and scientific achievements.

Make no mistake that this is not a half hearted effort by an upcoming giant.

As for Malaysian students, many are complacent and are just happy to master the National language and their mother tongue.

We may and will lose out in the long run as nations are set to overtake our nation in the mastery of the English langauge.

Read the article below to realise the determination and progress that has been made by the people of China in mastering the English language.

Rodney Tan
China makes unprecedented English-language push

Greg Andrews

March 14, 2011

HANGZHOU, China—Here’s something to ponder. It’s conceivable that by 2025 the number of English-speaking Chinese will exceed the number of people speaking English as a first language in the rest of the world.

Skeptics abound this will happen. But what’s undeniable is that China has made educating its population in English a big priority—and when this Communist government decides something is important, it goes all out.

Reminders of the importance China places on English are easy to find. As members of the Indiana University delegation I’m traveling with picked up our bags at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on Saturday and boarded a bus for the three-hour drive to Hangzhou, signs the whole way were in both Chinese and English.

China Daily reports that more than 300 million Chinese already are studying English—nearly one quarter of the country’s population. And in the next five years, all schools will begin teaching English in kindergarten, and all state employees younger than 40 will be required to master at least 1,000 English phrases.

The effort comes at the same time that many U.S. schools, including some in the Indianapolis area, have begun offering Chinese, usually on a modest scale. Both nations are trying to prepare their residents for success in such fields as global business.

But numerous obstacles stand in the way of China’s quest, including a shortage of good English teachers and the country’s test-oriented education system, which tends to build more proficiency in reading a language than speaking it.

Scott Kennedy, who is leading the IU delegation and is director of the university’s Research Center for Chinese Politics & Business, said the Chinese are a generation or more away from being able to speak English well—on par with the way many people in Europe speak additional languages.

That means it will continue to be important for U.S. companies doing business in China to speak Chinese, said Kennedy, an associate professor in the Political Science and East Asian Languages & Cultures departments.

“If a foreign company came to the United States and didn’t speak English, they would be at a distinct disadvantage. I think the same thing applies in China,” he said.

“Companies that are serious about doing business in China may be able to get away with very simple supply relationships. But anything complex—you have to have people communicate in Chinese. You have to operate in the Chinese system.”

Companies typically bulk up that expertise by hiring staff with significant China ties. Some firms even have a Chinese speaker at the helm of their operations here. Cummins Inc., for instance, does, while WellPoint Inc. does not.

“A good percentage” of communication in China is bilingual, said John Domeika, the Shanghai-based CEO of WellPoint China. “It does help to know some of the language. I make my effort, and people are nice about not being critical of how badly I am doing.”


Cartoon Resource: Types of Personalities

Dear All,

This is a nice, colourful resource for use with topics about personalities.

One idea is to match self or friends with the appropriate character.

For vocabulary, teacher discusses the meaning of the phrases.

Last suggestion is to list what each personality will usually do to earn such a name.


Rodney Tan

P.S. Click on the picture to get a larger image

Friday, March 11, 2011



By the time you read through this YOU WILL UNDERSTAND " TANJOOBERRYMUTTS " and be ready for China. In order to continue getting-by in China, we need to learn English the way it is spoken....

Practice by reading the following conversation until you are able to understand the term "TANJOOBERRYMUTTS". With a little patience, you'll be able to fit right in.

Now, here goes...

The following is a telephone exchange between a hotel guest and room-service .

Room Service : "Morrin. Roon sirbees."

Guest : "Sorry, I thought I dialed room-service."

Room Service: " Rye . Roon sirbees...morrin ! Joowish to oddor sunteen ???"

Guest: "Uh..... Yes, I'd like to order bacon and eggs."

Room Service: "Ow ulai den ?"

Guest: ".....What ??"

Room Service: "Ow ulai den ?!?... Pryed, boyud, pochd ?"

Guest: "Oh, the eggs ! How do I like them ? Sorry.. Scrambled, please."

Room Service: "Ow ulai dee bayken ? Creepse ?"

Guest: "Crisp will be fine."

Room Service: "Hokay.. An sahn toes ?"

Guest: "What ?"

Room Service: "An toes.. ulai sahn toes ?"

Guest: "I.... Don't think so.."

Room Service: "No ? Udo wan sahn toes ???"

Guest: "I feel really bad about this, but I don't know what 'udo wan sahn toes' means."

Room Service: "Toes ! Toes !...Why Uoo don wan toes ? Ow bow Anglish moppin we botter ?"

Guest: "Oh, English muffin !!! I've got it ! You were saying 'toast'... Fine...Yes, an English muffin will be fine."

Room Service: "We botter ?"

Guest: "No, just put the botter on the side."

Room Service: "Wad ?!?"

Guest: "I mean butter... Just put the butter on the side."

Room Service: "Copy ?"

Guest: "Excuse me ?"

Room Service: "Copy...tea.. meel ?"

Guest: "Yes. Coffee, please... And that's everything."

Room Service: "One Minnie. Scramah egg, creepse bayken , Anglish moppin, we botter on sigh and copy . Rye ??"

Guest: "Whatever you say."

Room Service: "Tanjooberrymutts."

Guest: "You're welcome"

Remember I said "By the time you read through this YOU WILL UNDERSTAND 'TANJOOBERRYMUTTS' and you do, don't you?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Poem: Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1920s)

Dear Readers,

This poem was sent to an e-group and I found it to be relevant and meaningful especially when there are people who are out to create noise and seek to be unhappy with whatever is currently happening.

As an educator, there are many times we compare ourselves and our students with those from more desirable schools. This poem proposes that we don't compare ourselves with others. Be at peace with God and self. Be happy!

Rodney Tan

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --

Not "Found in Old St. Paul's Church"! --

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even to the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;

they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain or bitter,

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals,

and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love,

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,

it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be.

And whatever your labours and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

News: SMK Methodist ACS Melaka (Malacca ACS) Centenary Dinner 2011

Dear All,

The school I'm teaching in, SMK Methodist ACS Melaka had just celebrated its 100th Years Anniversary with a 110-table grand dinner function in the school grounds.

About 1,100 Old Boys (MACSians) and their family and friends came to celebrate, to fellowship and to renew ties with their ex-classmates, teachers and friends.

The Lord was good to us as it didn't rain and the function went on smoothly.

I met a few old friends (class of '54, 71 and 79) and many others whom I have befriended during my growing up years. Even though I was not an Old Boy of the school, yet I could feel the camaderie and nostalgia amongst the guests that night.

In the evening, at 5 pm we had a Centenary Thansgiving Celebration and our special guest was the head of the Methodist Church in West Malaysia, Bishop Dr. Hwa Yung. He described the very challenging times that the mission schools faced in Malaysia and encouraged more young people to join the teaching profession as a mission and service for the Lord.

THe dinner started at 7.45 pm sharp and food was served at 8.15 pm after the speeches were made.

A live band was in attendance and they played lots of oldies. A few invited singers and a singing quartet (The Hardwater Revival--an ex-ACS group) sang to entertain the crowd.

Some old boys even bought along some liquor and at least one was dead drunk that night!

Anyway, that did not spoil the mood as ex-students mingled from table to table meeting up with old friends and ex teachers. The oldest old boy was 86 years old and some really old boys came in wheelchair and walking stick. Some were from overseas (Australia, Singapore, UK etc) and specially made their way back to attend this once in a lifetime event.

Anyway, for those who missed the event, here's the programme schedule for your information.

Rodney Tan

P.S. Please click on the pictures to get a larger view.

Centenary School Magazine.
Copies are still available at RM20 per copy.
Printed in thick glossy paper with many articles and pictures
contributed by the old boys of ACS Melaka.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Interesting Signboards

Dear All,

These actual signboards will make an interesting discussion on the meaning and intended reason for these signs.


Rodney Tan

Friday, March 4, 2011

Letter: From A Father to His Son (Applicable to daughter too)

Dear All,

This letter from a father to his son reminds me of the poem "If" that was previously taught in the Form 4 English Language Literature Component.

We can do an activity by asking our students to write their own letter or poem of a dad to his son/daughter or from a mother to her son/daughter.


Rodney Tan
Letter written by a father to his son! (applicable for daughters too)

The following is a letter to his son from a renown Hong Kong TV broadcaster.

The words are actually applicable to all of us, young or old, children or parents!

Dear son,

I am writing this to you because of 3 reasons:

1.Life, fortune and mishaps are unpredictable, nobody knows how long he lives. Some words are better said early.

2. I am your father, and if I don't tell you these, no one else will.

3. What is written is my own personal experiences that perhaps could save you a lot of unnecessary heartaches.

Remember the following as you go through life

1. Do not bear grudge towards those who are not good to you.

No one has the responsibility of treating you well, except your mother and I.

To those who are good to you, you have to treasure it and be thankful, and ALSO you have to be cautious, because, everyone has a motive for every move.

When a person is good to you, it does not mean he really likes you.

You have to be careful, don't hastily regard him as a real friend.

2. No one is indispensable, nothing in the world that you must possess.

Once you understand this idea, it would be easier for you to go through life when people around you don't want you anymore, or when you lose what/who you love most.

3. Life is short.

When you waste your life today, tomorrow you would find that life is leaving you.

The earlier you treasure your life, the better you enjoy life.

4. Love is but a transient feeling, and this feeling would fade with time and with one's mood.

If your so called loved one leaves you, be patient, time will wash away your aches and sadness.

Don't over exaggerate the beauty and sweetness of love, and don't over exaggerate the sadness of falling out of love.

5. A lot of successful people did not receive a good education, that does not mean that you can be successful by not studying hard! Whatever knowledge you gain is your weapon in life.

One can go from rags to riches, but one has to start from some rags!

6. I do not expect you to financially support me when I am old, either would I financially support your whole life. My responsibility as a supporter ends when you are grown up. After that, you decide whether you want to travel in a public transport or in your limousine, whether rich or poor.

7. You honour your words, but don't expect others to be so.

You can be good to people, but don't expect people to be good to you.

If you don't understand this, you would end up with unnecessary troubles.

8. I have bought lotteries for umpteen years, but I never strike any prize.

That shows if you want to be rich, you have to work hard! There is no free lunch!

9. No matter how much time I have with you, let's treasure the time we have together.

We do not know if we would meet again in our next life.

Your Ever loving Dad.


Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. ~Chinese Proverb

News: Children Need 100 Key Words to Read

Children 'need 100 key words' to read

• Katherine Demopoulos,     Friday 9 December 2005 12.31 GMT

Children need to learn just 100 words and 61 phonic skills to read the English language - not the 150 and 108 respectively suggested by the national literacy strategy, researchers from Warwick University said today.

Their study, seeking a theoretical basis for teaching reading, found that words beyond the key 100 are used so rarely that the benefits of learning them are minimal. The research is currently being submitted for publication.

Researcher Jonathan Solity said: "The English language looks highly irregular, but a significant part is regular, so can be learnt through core skills - you learn the optimal number of sight skills and phonic skills.

"If you have too many, some of them are redundant because they don't crop up with any great frequency or you may become very confused.

"The implication is that if you teach these core skills, children can read a lot very quickly. The skills crop up as often in real books as they do in the structured reading schemes. If you teach more, it's the law of rapidly diminishing returns."

Together with co-researcher Janet Vousden, Dr Solity analysed 850,000 words in a database of adult fiction and nonfiction, and compared children's reading schemes with "real" children's books.

His core 100 words formed 53% of the 850,000-word database, but he said one commonly used reading scheme only accounted for 43% of the words.

"If you teach more words as has been done in the literacy strategy, you don't necessarily continue to get a good return. The next 50 words get you 2% more understanding, if you can exclude words you can read phonically."

The researchers also say that the national strategy teaches too many phonemes. The strategy teaches the "dge" sound found in "fridge", for example, but there are only 11 words containing this combination.

Dr Solity said children would be better off learning it for themselves as they encounter it.

He says his research contradicts the decision by the education secretary, Ruth Kelly, to return to phonics as the central tenet of teaching reading through reading schemes. Following the recommendations of former chief inspector Jim Rose, Ms Kelly said phonics would be the "first and fast" way to learn.

But Dr Solity believes the reading schemes are not the best way to learn. He says 25% of children never get off a reading scheme and never get to choose the book they want. They would be more enthusiastic about reading if they were allowed to select what they wanted, and since the key words are better represented in "real" literature, they might learn faster.

"We're saying you can do this through real books - you don't need the reading scheme."

Commenting on the criticisms of the strategy, the DfES said: "The literacy strategy has never required any child to learn lists of words - it has given guidance and examples of best practice to teachers to help teach reading."

The crucial 100 words

• a, about, after, all, am, an, and, are, as, at, away

• back, be, because, big, but, by

• call, came, can, come, could

• did, do, down

• for, from

• get, go, got

• had, has, have, he, her, here, him, his

• in, into, is, it

• last, like, little, live, look

• made, make, me, my

• new, next, not, now

• of, off, old, on, once, one, other, our, out, over

• put

• saw, said, see, she, so, some

• take, that, the, their, them, then, there, they, this, three, time, to, today, too, two

• up, us

• very

• was, we, were, went, what, when, will, with


News: Dogs Who Listen to Children Reading

Dear Readers,

An interesting piece of news to parents who want to encourage their kids to read aloud especially those who have a dog.

To those who do not have a dog, get one to encourage your children to read aloud!

Rodney Tan
The dogs who listen to children reading

Scheme aims to encourage children to read aloud

Patrick Barkham

Monday 28 February 2011 20.00 GMT

Some children show the dog the pictures as they read.

When children read to him, Danny does not criticise or correct their pronunciation. He just nods and pricks up an ear, although sometimes he closes his eyes and appears not to be listening.

Danny is a greyhound and a novel way of encouraging pupils at Oakhill primary school in Tamworth, Staffordshire, to read aloud. A "listening dog", he is part of a scheme that originated in the US called Reading Education Assistance Dogs (Read).

"It helps with their self-esteem in reading out loud because he is non-judgmental," says the dog's owner, Tony Nevett, who has a degree in animal-assisted therapy. "He doesn't judge them and he doesn't laugh at them. He's just a tool – the children don't realise they are reading, which they might not have the confidence to do in class." Some children even show Danny the pictures as they read.

Danny received five months of training to become a Read dog. Greyhounds are particularly well-suited because they do not bark and their short coat is less likely to trigger allergies.

Nevett hopes that the scheme, piloted in Kent, will spread. "We've had some success stories, including a girl with Down's Syndrome who really took to the dog and improved her reading," he says. "When Danny goes to sleep I tell the children that he's dreaming about their story."