Tuesday afternoons over at Hua Yi Secondary School is always filled with the students' sound of laughter as they mingle and interact with one another through exciting activities, in one common language.
The Conversational Malay (CCM/ML) Programme was introduced in Hua Yi Secondary School as an enrichment programme for non-Malay students to learn more about the Malay language and culture The program also promotes cross-cultural learning, build up their 21 CC competencies and at the same time, aims to encourage students to acquire a 3rd language that will help them to converse comfortably in the region. Conducted in Term 1 and 2, the module consists of 10 lessons of two hours each. The teachers worked together with the instructors to cater to the learning needs of the students.
Teacher-in-charge, Madam Farah Suhaimi Binti Saat, shared that the programme provided the students with a good grounding of the language as they will be able to use simple conversational Malay for everyday situations.
“The Conversational Malay programme promotes racial harmony as the students learn to understand each other's culture and practices. It enables them to also live out our school values of benevolence, justice, wisdom and togetherness by understanding and connecting with peers of different races,” said Madam Farah.
Speaking on her experience, Secondary One student, Lieu Hui Lin wanted to learn the Malay language so that she can relate better with her friends and forge stronger friendship bonds. One of the difficulties she encountered was the pronunciation of some of the Malay words. However, she managed to overcome it with the help of her friends.
“I had the hardest time trying to pronounce the Malay words correctly but I love the process of learning how to pronounce and understanding the words,” said Hui Lin who added that speaking to her friends in Malay made her feel a lot closer to them.
Cross-Cultural Exposure and Immersion
Besides learning the language, craftwork is also part of the lessons. For instance, the students did paper ketupat weaving as one of their classroom activities. They also played games in class to practice using the language. The program also extends their learning beyond mastering the language in classrooms and added more fun into language learning. For instance, at the Sahibba board game station, students transferred their learning of the language by forming words that they have learnt from CCM.
Students also took part in a cultural carnival, organised by the CCM instructors, where they experienced different Malay cultural activities, crafts and games such as bunga manggar making, five stones, playing Sahibba (a Malay version of Scrabble) as well as playing chapteh. The students from the last session of the programme help out as student helpers at the carnival. This allows them to hone and brush up their Malay language skills and knowledge.
“Though the planning and preparation of the Cultural Carnival took more time than expected, we were confident that the students will enjoy the learning beyond classrooms activities. We were heartened to see the very positive responses and that our students enjoyed the learning processes by trying out the various activities,” said Madam Farah.
Madam Vivian Liang, mother of Savanna Tan, a Secondary Two student who had participated in the programme was glad to see her daughter learning Malay as it helped her to understand more about the people who speak the language, their cultural practices and way of life.
“Exposure to diversity and acceptance of differences in other races and cultures are vital skills in life and would benefit our youths. I have faith that the CCM programme will achieve such objectives,” said Madam Liang.