John (my first student) learned the word ‘but’ and ‘cut’ and when I taught him the word ‘put’ I could see a confused look on his face. He could not understand why I pronounced ‘put’ the way I did and not the way I pronounced ‘cut’ and ‘but’.
This is one of the reasons why I say that these kids are logical thinking kids. I make it a point to explain that the English language is not the same as the Malay language and that he has to just memorize this word as it is. I explain to him that the English language is an orthographically inconsistent language unlike Malay and Han Yu Pin Yin.
Another student Ken asked me why ‘was’ was spelt the way it is instead of ‘wos’. Mac another one of my students asked me why I pronounced ‘on’ the way I did and yet pronounced ‘station’ another way. The ‘on’ in ‘station’ was illogical to him.
Each time I replied, “Well, that is the English language. Don’t try and be logical. Just learn it this way and don’t compare it with Malay.” Each time I could see a feeling of satisfaction on their faces. It is as if they had discovered a flaw in the English language. They were happy because now their tuition teacher had told them that they were smart.
Because they are constantly being belittled by their classmates, I have to repeatedly tell them that they are smart. Once they begin to regain their self-esteem there is a rise in their confidence level and they progress in their studies by leaps and bounds.
My student John had asked me many times in the course of our studies, “Uncle Luqman, am I stupid?” And each time I had to reassure him that he is not stupid; that on the contrary, he is very intelligent. I later found out that there were still some students in his school who called him stupid when he had problems with sequencing.
John did very well in his Primary six (UPSR) examination – much better than most of his classmates who had called him stupid.
For lesson 4 click here :