Mother Tongue Fortnight

Why Mother Tongue Fortnight
As educators, we all help develop in our students interest and competency in Malay Language (ML). One of our approaches to achieve this is through the Mother Tongue Fortnight (MTF) activities that we conducted yearly. Through these activities we introduce and educate our students the cultural aspects of the Malay community. This we do with the intent to improve our students’ interest towards the Malay culture and in the process, shore up their desire wanting to improve their competency in ML so that they can appreciate the Malay culture better.

Why we share
And so, we hope to share here interesting MTF activities that we have done before or plan to do. We hope that many ML teachers could provide constructive feedback on how we can better conduct these activities in the future. Better still, we would love to hear any interesting MTF activities that you may have conducted before for the benefit of all ML teachers in our fratenity.

Our MTF Activity for Graduating Students
Our first sharing is an activity that we plan for our graduating students. These Secondary Four and Five students have benefited from the level MTF activities that they had participated throughout their stay in our school. From these activities they had learnt many aspects of the Malay culture. However, their level of engagement this year will not be as intense as before as time is a premium; they need enough time to prepare well for their coming GCE O Level Examinations.

Our Challenges
As such, the challenge to carry out MTF activities for graduating students is two-fold. First, how can we mantain the same or almost similar level of engagement despite time being precious for them. And second, how we can engage them at a level higher – a meta-level engagement – instead of introducing them to yet another aspect of the Malay culture. What I mean to say is that how can we get them to reflect on what they had learnt so far from the previous MTF activities they had participated to arrive to a higher understanding and appreciation. Does this make sense? : )

Our Design
With these concerns we design our MTF activity for our graduating students this way: First, we build it into our revision activities, in particular our oral practices. In this way, our activity is not a stand alone that requires a separate time and occassion, but runs seamlessly into our revision activities where we have already factor the time we need. Second, we engage our graduating students to dicuss a BIG PICTURE understanding of the challenges the Malay community faces in keeping their cultural traditions alive. In doing so, we hope our students have a better grip of the difficulties and being the next generation to shape and chart the nation direction moving forward, we are hopeful that they will take the necessary steps they have learnt from such BIG PICTURE discussions to keep our traditions alive.

Our Steps
With this design in mind, we first looked out for topics in the Secondry 1-4 Jauhari textbooks that focus on cultural aspects of the Malay community. From our research, we found 8 such topics below:

Secondary 1
Seni Kraft Tangan Melayu

Secondary 2
Permainan Dahulu & Sekarang
Fesyen Kota Singa

Secondary 3
Ikan Di Laut, Asam Di Darat
Yang Seni Itu Indah
Tiada Kata Sencantik Bahasa

Secondary 4
Ceritera Bumi Nusantara
Citra Budaya

Next, we put identified cultural aspects of the Malay community that are relevant to the topics before putting together oral videos and designing oral questions that engage students in BIG PICTURE discussions of the challenges the Malay community faces in keeping their cultural traditions alive. We realise that the discussions may be too big for comfort that we decide to include suggested pointers as starters or starting points for our graduating students to build their arguments vis-a-vis answers to the oral questions. These suggested pointers serves as scaffolds. As with all scaffolds, they are only useful for students who need them. However, for high ability students, they soon become straitjackets that hinder their thoughts and creativity. So for these students, we encourage them to come up with their own points and challenge them to give something different and better than our suggested pointers.

And finally, we print these information onto worksheets (QR codes to video the oral video) and add something clever at the end of the worsheets; a pantun for every worksheet.

Our Presentation – Democracy in Learning
We give our graduating students the agency to choose the worksheets vis-a-vis topics for their oral practices. This we believe is important in a democratic classroom. However, we want to add another opportunity for the students to learn another aspect of the Malay culture, the pantun. As such, we fold the worksheets in such a manner that only to reveal their respective pantun and arrange them on a table like the picture above. Students need to study the pantun as they provide hints of the cultural aspect of the Malay community discussed in the worksheets.

Cikgu: Baca hati-hati pantun itu semua dan pilih dengan betul.

Pelajar: Baik cikgu

Cikgu: Jangan salah pilih. Nanti kamu dapat budya Melayu yang sukar bagaimana? Ingat budaya Melayu pelbagai. Kalau kamu dapat budaya mengenai berkhatan bagaimana?

Pelajar: Apa itu berkhatan cikgu?

Cikgu: Sunat!

Pelajar: ???

Cikgu: *senyum

Our Assessment
We assess students’ oral presentations on two fronts; content and organization. For content we challenge students to impress us with WOW arguments. A WOW argument is simply a jaw-dropping argument that keeps the examiners speechless and for days to come, persistently talk about it with fellow teachers and students. In a nutshell, the examiner are just blown away! We are happy to share that we have had the opportunity to hear some WOW arguments from our students before.

What about organization. Here we expect our graduating students to use the techniques that we had taught them before. We use these techniques in designing of our Mini Monsters Oral Guides. You can learn and teach our techniques to your students using these guides and they are available for purchase via The Game Crafter.

The cream to a good organization lies in consistency, coherent and flow. We painstakingly taught these aspects to our graduating students and we insist on them religiously. What are they in details? That is for a post on another day. : )

What better rewards than a good oral presentation that encourages students to continue working hard and put them on an upward trajectory leading them to score distictions for their Oral O Level Examinations. Still, our students are a generation that favours instant gratification to spur them further. As such, we promise prizes to the top three oral presenters from every level – Secondary 4 Express, 4 Normal Academic (Out of Stream) and 5 Normal Academic. These prizes come from funds allocated for our MTF activities.

Our Worksheets
We share below our worksheets. We have made duplicates of each workseets but with different pantun to accommodate for bigger classes. Please click of the pics below for the worksheets.

We are grateful to hear you share your experience using our worksheets in your class. We hope from your sharing we can improve this activity for future batches of graduating classes. Please share with us your experience. Thank you in advance!