Today, a man appeared from nowhere and complained to the Principal that the Form 1 English Paper 1 was too difficult. I was the teacher who prepared the exam paper and was horrified to hear those words from his mouth. He asked if the paper was in accordance to the MOE standard.
He even made a list of words which he claimed to be too tough for Form 1 students. Among the words which I could remember were unbeatable, generic, medicine, probably, passage, minimum, encouraged, emergency, manoeuvre etc.
I confessed that words like 'generic' and 'manoeuvre' are difficult words which I purposely chose as I have students with excellent English. As for the other words, if the students still don't know them; woe to them.....
Together with the Head of the English Department; we fired him down in front of the Principal. First, I asked him for his credibility to question us; he couldn't answer us; he is not even a parent to any of the F1 students. He claimed that he asked a Form 1 student the meaning of the words he had listed and the girl couldn't give the meaning of the words. What does this imply? Probably he is giving tuition to a very weak student and he has lowered the standard to meet the standard of the student instead of the standard of an average Form 1 student.
Then I proceeded to explain to him that I have questions which are easy, moderate and difficult. I cater to students from all levels; can't just cater to the weak students only. Infact I have completed marking my papers and told him that majority of the students achieved more that 50% correct. There is no indication from the results that my paper is extremely difficult that they can't answer it.
I also told him that this is a town school and an excellent cluster school. The standard of the English amongst many of the students here is amazing. Of course these students don't go to him for tuition as their English is so 'terror' that they don't need his help. Poor man, maybe that is why he doesn't know how 'terror' my girls are and think that all the Form 1 students are like the one who goes to him for tuition.
Later on, I analysed the results of some of the classes and this is what I found. 1Sigma (one of the excellent classes) has 86.5% students who achieved above 30 correct answers out of 40 questions. 1Zeta, an average class has 66.7% with more that 30 correct answers and 1Alpha (one of the weakest class) has 16.7% with more that 30 correct answers. This indicates that my set of questions are as normal as can be.
Anyway, the poor man left in embarrassment. One should know the school, the type of students before jumping to conclusion and making a fool of oneself.
I have students whose English is way beyond their 13 years of age and at the same time students who can hardly read or write properly. So what is the standard of English among students in Malaysia? It depands on where you are, which class you teach, what type of school you teach....