Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Secret Recipes: How to Score ENGLISH?

I can smile significantly at the present after nearly 9 years I’ve stayed focused on English grammar without desperation. Listen up! Neither am I talking about English spoken language (or speaking skills) nor about English linguistics that discusses the study of the English Language. I don't wanna talk about English literature either! Literature studies the beauty of a language. I love it too. Yet, that’s not what I'm gonna talk about. My concentration now focuses on English grammar. Hope you see what I mean.

Would you like to know the secrets of my success? I bet many people do!

Once upon a time, approximately 9 years back, something, like a feeling of curiosity, appeared in myself and I assume it as ‘hidayah from Allah the Almighty for having me enthusiastic in the English Language learning. I was actually not the least bit interested in English previously, nonetheless it doesn’t tell you I never did my English homework at all. I used to do my English homework myself and looked up my bilingual dictionary (Malay – English/English – Malay) for unknown words. That’s the way I learned English and, at least I did it myself. I wasn’t an idiot who understood nothing from daily English lessons despite the fact that it’s not in Bahasa. Diligently seeking for unknown words did help gain my English vocabulary.


Nothing happened until 2003 got started. It was just like a miracle! It’s still stuck in my mind of what I underwent. Obstacles and challenges entail a person with high patience. I guess it's me! Patience was my real strength at that time. I took the feeling of embarrassment away. I met my English teacher almost every day. I almost gave up at the beginning and felt desperate.

One day, my kid sister brought a small book home taken away from my grandpa’s home. The book title is 'Asas Tatabahasa Inggeris' (English Grammar) without the author’s name. It was worth at only RM1.80 and was the 3rd edition published in 1985. I wasn’t yet born! It once belonged to my uncle. He did study very hard over his adolescence, based on my observation randomly. The contents of the book are easily comprehended and by reading the small book, I’ve understood many things such as tenses, nouns, adjectives, adverbs etc. I didn’t even feel like learning such things in Bahasa before. BTW, I’ve kept the book with me for the last 9 years. My understanding then increased.

Undeniably, it seems somewhat difficult to find an English grammar book written fully in Bahasa (I’m talking about explanations of the contents). I more frequently stopped by at any bookstores around Kuala Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur City. Most English grammar books are written entirely in English. To my way of thinking, it can weaken a second language learner’s passion to approach the global language, you know. Many people dislike looking up dictionary umpteen times while studying because it might ‘ruin’ their main purpose.

'The main focus is to learn not to gain vocabulary'

Insufficient with the knowledge imparted by my English teacher and the small book, I looked for other initiatives. I tried to benefit the facilities available in school. I went to the school library and borrowed English grammar books more often. Not only did I read them but also took some notes. After that, I memorized. Frankly, it’s too easy to remember ‘grammatical rules’ due to my deep interest together with curiosity. Thus, there’re 5 significant elements here to be emphasized:

  1. Interest
  2. Curiosity
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Diligence
  5. Consistency

Talking about my experience in the past, interest came when ‘I’ve known what I didn’t know’. It must be truly inspiring when we’ve known something new, right? This is what I simply label the learning process as ‘the acquisition of knowledge’.


The output could be seen via my monthly tests (or sometimes they call OTI) and exams. I grew delighted as my academic performance in English kept increasing from time to time. It began with grade D prior to my learning, and shortly increased to 50% (Grade C) and in the trial of Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) exam in 2003, I obtained 65% (Grade B) which was actually the first time I got such a good grade. So amazingly, with the grade, my mark was the second highest after the first competitor who got 66%. How overjoyed I was!

If you ask my English teacher, she absolutely convinces you that I didn’t stop asking her grammatical questions until the night before the English exam day. My consistent effort was eventually paid when I obtained grade A in the PMR. It’s the sweetest present for my hard work all this while. I felt like screaming as a symbol of excellence.


Year 2003 elapsed and subsequently in 2004, I was in Form 4. The format of the SPM exam looked quite complicated to understand. My first mark of the first SPM-format English paper was only 49%, if I’m not mistaken. It’s not even C! I whereupon asked for help from my English teacher who’s teaching me English. She is a little bit furious like a hungry tiger. I didn’t know what made me too fearless to see her in person. I inquired and posed her a lot of grammatical questions. I was scolded by her many times I swear! It didn’t even make me less enthusiastic to meet her again, anyways.

After months, I believed that she noticed my seriousness in English. She assisted me a lot in English as well. I used to submit few English essays to her. I myself wrote them and she would check each of them and leave some comments afterwards. She guided me slightly well. You may ask anyone who is good at English to correct yours too!

My fellow companions too noticed the change of my deep interest in the international language. Furthermore, my monthly English test or exam mark would constantly be everybody’s attention. I smiled contentedly cos my target for English in the Mid-year Exam was successfully achieved. I got A2 with 72% and I can still remember the moment! I managed to score Section A: Directed Writing of Paper 1 with the highest mark I ever got was 20/25. Yet, I needed much guidance for Section B: Continuous Writing since the highest mark I ever got was only 33/50.  For comprehension questions, I used to get full mark whilst in summary, I used to get 13/15. On top of that, for literature question especially novel part, the highest mark I ever got was 8/10. It’s such a great achievement!


I’m just a so-so student, there’s no big deal whether that’s what I could attain and be proud of. The most memorable moment was after the announcement of the SPM exam result. It was on March 15, 2006 and unfortunately I was in Malacca joining the hostel trip to Langkawi Island, Kedah and Malacca. I was very overjoyed for getting A1 in English. Guess what? I was the only one SPM candidate from the secondary school who got A1. I felt too proud of myself. My English teacher was really glad and pleased. She impatiently looked forward to congratulating me. She presented me a RM50 note. It’s kinda recognition for my academic excellence.

In conclusion, personally, based on my experience, English grammar is the first thing one should and must learn.

Grammar mastery enables me to speak English more proficiently BUT,

frequent practice in speaking English daily makes me speak more fluently! and,

Better understanding of the exam format as well as literature component helped me score the subject.

Now, it’s up to you to evaluate and decide. What I’ve just done is 



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