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her valuable guidance and advice. Her willingness to motivate us contributed tremendously to the completion of this task. We also would like to thank her for showing us some examples of the previously done interviews. Besides, we would like to thank the Mr. Seva Bala Sundaram for granting us with the permission to interview him. His cooperation and open-mindedness while the interview was being done is really appreciated. Finally, an honorable mention goes to our families and friends for their understandings and supports on us in completing this task. Without helps of the particular that mentioned above, we would face many difficulties while doing this project.
Table of Contents 1
No i ii 1.0 2.0 3.0
Topic Acknowledgement Table of Content Introduction Biodata of the interviewee Extract of the Intereview 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Description of interviewee’s career Description of interviewee highs and lows in career and life Notable experiences others could learn from Interviewee’s Opinion about Issues Raised Advice to the young generation
Page 1 2 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 6 7 8
4.0 5.0 . 6.
Reflection Photographs/video taken during the interview Appendix A B C Questions Asked During the Interview Transcription CD of Video Recording
9 11 18
This task was done as a part of the assessments for Communicative English II subject. In this task we were required to conduct an interview with a significant person that we know. We interviewed Mr. Seva, a lecturer at the English Department, Faculty of Languages, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris. The interview was conducted at the interviewee’s office at the faculty on 2
12th February 2010. Among the things that were asked during the interview is his background, his education, his career developments and his opinion about few issues raised. The extract of the interview are presented in the next section.
Biodata of the interviewee
Birthday: Birthplace: Wife: Primary school: Secondary schools:
30th Januari 1954 Muar, Johor P. Selvarani Ismail School 1 1)Tengku Mahkota Secondary School ( 1 Year) 2) Seri Muar Lower Secondary School(2 Years)
Higher education: 1) Muar High School 2) Cambridge College 3) Maktab Perguruan Lembah Pantai 4) UM - Dip in ESL 5) UPM - Bachelor of Education (TESL) 6) UPM – Masters of Education (TESL) Motto: 3.0 “Once you are involved in something, do it well.” Extract of the Interview
The following are the extracts of the interview that we did with Mr. Seva at his office at the Faculty of Languages on 12th February 2010.
Description of Interviewee’s Career 3
At present, Mr. Seva is working at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris as an English language lecturer at the Faculty of Languages. Besides teaching English language (Coommunicative English), he also teaches TESL students subjects like Teaching of Listening and Speaking and also Teaching of Literature. Besides teaching, he also writes books and also observes teacher trainees who are going for their practicum at schools.
High and Lows in Mr. Seva’s Career
Mr. Seva had many experience in different field of career before he became a lecturer in UPSI. He worked at an electronic factory for about five years after he completed his studies at Cambridge College. After that, he quitted from the job and went for a teachers training college and later he became a teacher in Kuala Terengganu for eight years as a non-graduate teacher. After that, he transferred to Bahau and taught at a school there for 14 years. He went to further his studies at University Putra Malaysia for his first degree in education. After he finished his studies, he went back to the school in Bahau and continued teaching there. Later, he did his Masters in Education at Universiti Putra Malaysia and applied for a position at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). His application was accepted and he started working at UPSI as an English language lecturer at the Faculty of Languages.
Achievements and Recognitions
When asked about his contribution he told us that he was a coach and also a qualified volleyball referee in the school that he taught in before, He also coached his students in football and also athletics. Thus, he managed to produce many athletes and sportsman when he was teaching at school. He also told us that he wrote three books namely “Let’s Learn English”, “Listen In Speak Out” and “English Language in Practice” with two other lecturers. He also had some notes that he provide his students with when teaching them. He is willing to compile the notes to become a book. In terms of recognitions that he gets, he told us that he was awarded with Pingat Kecemerlangan by Yayasan Negeri Sembilan when he gets first class honors. He was also awarded Guru Cemerlang in the school he taught previously. 4
Interviewee’s Opinion about Issues Raised
Besides questions about Mr. Seva’s background and career, we also asked him about few issues relating to teaching profession. When he was asked about the differences between teaching at schools and teaching at a university, he told us that there is not much difference between them. What differs them is just the content of teaching. In the university, the content are more to make students to self-explore things that they learn. However, he stated that he is sad since the university is now changing its focus in education to open market courses, thus having few subjects in education changed or removed from the current syllabus. He was afraid that UPSI will be producing teachers who lack the skills in teaching since the university only provides them the chance to learn the content of the subject, not the pedagogical skill and theories about methods and approaches in teaching. He also told us few problems with teacher trainees who went to schools for their practicum. Among the problems are teachers not going to classes and also the level of proficiency in English language teacher trainees. This problem has caused schools to refuse students from UPSI to be placed in their school. When asked about the cause that the practicum teacher became like that, he commented that this happens due to the teacher’s habits and attitude themselves. He believe that actions have to be taken by the university to overcome this problems.
Advice to Young Generation
When asked about his advice to the UPSI students, he advised that the teachers-to-be to give full attention to their students. The teachers must be willing to sacrifice their time and their energy in educating their students. He also said that teacher should not be selfish give so many excuses when it comes for them to do extra-curricular activities for the students. This is important as he believes that if the teachers mixed with the students, the students will be good. As a result, there will be less disciplinary problems in schools. He stressed the importance of teachers mixing with their students and get involved with them in things that the students like 5
especially sports. By doing so, the teachers will get the respect from the students and will always keep in touch with them.
We are grateful to God that after some time, we managed to finish this task. Besides giving us the chance to practice our English language, the interview that we did with Mr. Seva has given us new insight about life and also about the teaching profession. There are few things that we learned from the interview.
From the interview, we learned that one must use the opportunities that they have while they still have time. From the interview, we remembered how Mr. Seva regrets that he did not use the opportunities that he had to do things that will move him into a better position. We realize that we must use our time wisely since the time that has passed cannot be repeated. Thus, it is very important that we use our time for beneficial things. Besides, we also learned that we must be focused in doing something. As Mr. Seva said, “Once you are involved in something, do it well.” It is important that one be hardworking and not doing something halfheartedly. This interview has somehow moved our motivation towards success. In terms of teaching profession, we learned that teachers must be willing to sacrifice for the sake of their students’ success and also educating them to be a whole person. This can be done by mixing with the students and internalizing good moral values in them. The teachers should also not measure their students’ success just by looking at their academic achievement but also in their change of behavior and personality in schools. Be them high achievers or weak students, our job as teachers is to educate them and showing them the path of righteousness. This interview has really given us wondrous insight on life is and opened a new perspective in teaching profession thanks to Mr. Seva Bala Sundaram and also Madam Mazyati.
Photographs Taken During the Interview
Appendix A 8
Questions Asked During the Interview
Questions about interviewee’s background • • • • • • Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? …your full name, date of birth, family maybe… What about your education? What do you usually do during your free time? What makes you interested in that hobby? I mean what is so special about it? What is your motto in life? / do you have any motto that you always apply in your life? Why do you say so?
Interviewee’s career • • • • • • • • • • What is your occupation before you become a lecturer? What makes you choose this career? If you are not a lecturer, what would you be? Are you satisfied with your position now? Besides lecturing here, what do you do? Are there any books that you write? What are the problems that you usually face in your career? If someone happens to backstab you, what would you do? What is your greatest achievement in your career…or life maybe? Is there any recognition that you get from any institution?
Interviewee’s opinion • • • What are the good things that you find here, in UPSI? What about the ‘not so good thing’ here? I mean maybe the weaknesses or something…? It is almost 13 years the formerly known IPSI has been upgraded to become an IPTA, I mean to a university, UPSI. But, do you think that UPSI is qualified enough to be a university? If UPSI is going to make a major change, what do you think it should change first? I heard that many schools are complaining about UPSI graduates and even its students who going for practicum at schools. What do they usually complain about? Why do you think this happens? I heard that UPSI’s management budget is being cut due to our economic crises now. What do you think about this? Should this happen?
Appendix B Transcription of the Interview Zuraimi: Good morning, sir. So, we are CE2 students and we are required to do an interview with a person who can speak English actually… so let me introduce our members first. This is Mohd Azhar, and I am Zuraimi, this is Jaulie, this is Lorence, and this is Sami. Mr. Seva: I’m sure you all know who I am. Zuraimi: Yes. So this erm Mr. Seva Bala Sundaram… Azhar: I think we can start our interview now. Let me start with the first question. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself… erm, your fullname, your family maybe, your hometown… Mr. Seva: Ok, I come from Muar, Johor. I was born in Muar, I studied in Muar and then later I continued my studies in Johor Bahru. After that, I started to look for a job. Working at an electronic for around five years then I went to a college, a teachers training college. I became a teacher and started teaching in Kuala Terangganu. I taught in Terengganu for eight years as a non-graduate teacher. Then, I went to Bahau because my wife was from Bahau. So, I went to Bahau, Negeri Sembilan and taught in Bahau for 14 years then I went to the university… quite old, finish my degree, then went back to the same school in Bahau… continued teaching there and immediately I did my master in UPM and after I finish my master, I just for fun applied for UPSI and… I’m not sure whether fortunately or unfortunately (laugh), I got the job here… so now I’m here. Azhar: So, what about your family? Mr. Seva: Ok, I have… of course one wife and 3 children. All my three children are doing engineering. My two eldest one… although they did very well in SPM, they did very well, got 10 A’s but did not get even matriculation. So, I have no choice but to put them in UNITEN. My last child, she equally did very well but she did fairly better 11
than the others in the number of A1. So she got JPA scholarship and she is in Germany now doing engineering. Azhar: What is your activity during your leisure time? Mr. Seva: For your information, my age is 56 years old now. I was a sportsman all the way. I will not do anything else except play games. Anytime I’m free, you will find me on the field to play football. Then of course, at later age… when I was I think 27, I injured my knee. So I stopped playing competitive football. I just play for fun and then I injured my right knee and I stopped playing football and started playing volleyball and badminton. Then, just before coming to UPSI, I was still playing football, I mean volleyball for Negeri Sembilan teachers. Then, when I came to UPSI, I found that the volleyball team was too united… and they didn’t want any new players and things like that… so I did not want to disturb. Now, I’m playing badminton. Sometimes I play squash, sometimes I play tennis, sometimes I play table tennis. Azhar: So, urm… with whomyou play…? Mr. Seva: Ok, I have different sets of friends who are tough in UPSI… so when I play tennis I play with different people, when I play badminton, I play with …you know Dr. Suppiah? Azhar: Yes, yes… very popular one. Mr. Seva: Ok, so when I play squash, I play with Dr. Suppiah. When I play table tennis, I have to go and look for friends who can play table tennis to play with. Sometimes I play with students. Azhar: Ok, do you have any motto that you always apply in your life? Mr. Seva: I don’t have a motto actually. But I have my principle which is true in me, not what I came up with. It’s automatically, as a sportsman, my aim is… if I am involved in sports, say I’m playing badminton. I must win. But, whether I win or not is a secondary question. At the end of the day, I may lose, I will not break my racket and things like that, do you understand..? I will accept the lost, but erm… my aim when I play, my objective is not to lose, I must win. If I can give you zero, I will give you zero. Those days, badminton (points) was 15 point. Now is 21, 21 is (makes it) very difficult to give zero because one mistake you make they will give point… It was 15, and if I can get I will give you zero. Say for example you come and you don’t know how to play. So some people would say, “He’s so new, how you could do that?” I say “No, if he is in the court, he should know how to play, if not he should get out of the court.” (laugh). So that’s … even in studies. When I went to UPM to do my basic degree, I said “ I am there and I must do well.” This one grew in me later, not when I was a student in school. When I was a student in school, I when the book is here, my mind is thinking about football, you know? So, this one grew later, so I 12
said “I am in UPM now and I have to do well.” I was thinking like that and I got first class honors. Then, when I came out I said “No, I want to do my masters.” I went and I did my master in one and a half year, 3 semesters as a part time student. Studying, doing masters, teaching at school, training my volleyball team, training my athletic team and I finished in one and a half year. So that is my principle. Once you are involved, do it well. Otherwise, don’t get involved. Jaulie: How about your occupation before you become a lecturer? Mr. Seva: I was a teacher from 1980 to 2004. So 1980 to 2003, I was teaching and all the while I was teaching in secondary school. Although in the beginning, I was not a graduate, I was still teaching the secondary school. Like I told you earlier, before that for five years I was working in electronics as a technician. Jaulie: What makes you choose this career? Mr. Seva: I love students and then I already feel like I have something to give them. My main concern when I became a teacher was not in the academic field. I did not say I want to become a teacher so that I can teach them English, I can teach them Chemistry or history, no. But if I become a teacher I can go coach them erm athletics, I can coach them … football. That is why I left electronics and that those days when I left electronics, electronics pay was not good. You know, when I was in electronics, I was paid RM420.00. So, I thought teaching will be better. That is what makes me go into teaching field. Jaulie: Sir, if you are not a lecturer, what will you be? Mr. Seva: Maybe an engineer! (laughing). You know why? I would have been an engineer, but not a qualified engineer. You know why, my friends who stayed back in the electronics are all engineers, but they did not go to the university and did engineering. The company promotes them. See I was a technician, senior to my friend, I mean my friend is my junior. When they came, I taught them how to do the job. So, they went up and now as senior technician and all kinds of level and now they are all engineers, senior and juniors. Jaulie: Are you satisfied with your position now? Mr. Seva: Satisfied because of my qualification. If I’m not satisfied, I am to be blamed. I could have done my Phd, then I can go further, I mean I don’t expect the university to make me an associate professor with my masters, ok… Zuraimi: But then, are you willing to further your studies? Mr. Seva: I have been thinking of this for the last five years. So I don’t seem to.. you know.. to start. You know like I told you, when I start something I must finish it. I’m quite worried if I start and whether I can finish it or not. So this thing has been dragging, dragging, dragging…for five year and I’ve got two more years left. 13
Zuraimi: You was a teacher before. What did you find the difference between teaching students at school and teaching students at a university? Mr Seva: Not much of a difference. The only thing is the content is very different. What we teach in school is, if it is English we teach English. Here we don’t teach you English, isn’t it? We don’t teach you English, we teach you grammar. In schools we don’t say we teach you grammar, you know it’s all integrated. In schools if we teach them grammar, they will fall asleep. So, in schools it’s quite different. Then, in schools, you don’t teach one subject. In school, I was teaching English, I was teaching Moral, I was teaching Physical Education. Three different thing you know. Of course in school, it was more interesting because in the morning you teach, in the afternoon you go back you are on the field, on the court. Here nobody requires your service. So, your talent in… like mine, I am a qualified volleyball referee, I’m a qualified volleyball coach, I’m a qualified athletic official, I’m a qualified athletic coach. But all are gone to waste. That’s the main difference. Jaulie: Are there any books that you write? Mr. Seva: We have written two books with other lecturers in this faculty (going to search for the books). It’s for you people, Communicative English. We wrote this one at more or less the same you know Listen In Speak Out, English Language in Practice, then there was one more we wrote but it is not written by myself… don’t put there “I wrote”… Let’s Learn English (he shows the book). These are three books we wrote and this book was edited by me. I am planning to write because… erm, what class are you in with me? Teaching of Listening and Speaking right? Like now Teaching of Listening and Speaking is under me and then I have two literature classes and I have notes for them. So what I am going to do is, I am going to write more, compile and make it into books. Lorence: What are the problems that you usually face in your career? Mr. Seva: Problems… are you talking about our university? Lorence: Yes. Mr. Seva: I don’t have any problem with this university… except for one or two students who keep skipping classes and whereby I was forced to bar them from the exam. Ok, that’s one. Number two, I am teaching TESL students and I am very disappointed with their level of proficiency in the language, that’s my problem. I can’t go to the class and start teaching them English, I do not have the time. Of course if they give me three hours per one week to be in the class, teach them English… that’s different, then I can help them. Here no, I have my own subject and courses to teach. Lorence: If someone happens to backstab you, what will you do? 14
Mr. Seva: I don’t think people will do that to me because I am nice to everybody. But if they do, what can I do. Let them do and let them be happy. Lorence: Is there any recognition that you get? Mr. Seva: Number one, when I got my first class honors, Yayasan Negeri Sembilan called me and they awarded me some cemerlang thing you know. That was one. Then secondly as a teacher I got Guru Cemerlang. So, other than that, no. Lorence: is there anything that you want to do before you retire? MR. Seva: I’m still thinking of doing my Phd. Erm, if not for myself… if my children got married, I can put Dr. Seva on the wedding card you know (laughing). Other than that, my children… I want to see them succeed in their life because they have been very close to me and they are not exposed to outside world. Like during holiday, they come back or I go there, I take them out or they come back here. So, we have been a very close family, I think they need exposure, but some way or other they should get it and I will still be there to help them to achieve whatever they want. Zuraimi: So sir, you have been teaching here for 6 years. What are the good things that you find here? Mr. Seva: There’s a lot of opportunities actually. But, to be frank I am quite lazy. If I’m not, then there are a lot of things I can achieve. You see, they give me 12 hours, 9 hours to teach per week! I only teach for three day, so what am I doing the other four days? I can do so much, I can actually do my Phd. I can do research, I can write books. I told you I have notes but I still haven’t done my notes. There are a lot of things I can do here. The opportunity is very wide open. It is all depends on you. You just asked if somebody backstabs you… you don’t bother… you do what you want, you do as long as you don’t step on people’s foot. There are a lot of opportunities here. If only I can make use of it, I will be a very satisfied person. Zuraimi: Then, what about the not so good thing? Mr. Seva: Not so good thing is a lot of paperworks. I mean, I thought we are heading towards paperless world. Everything should be here (pointing at the computer). Everything should be online but no. We hve to fill in a lot of forms, papers you know for the ISO files. So that is one setback, I think the university have to do something about it. Secondly, the focus… I mean the university’s focus. You see, what I’m going to say is a little bit against what our TNCA, Prof. Zakaria… you know. He wants us to compete with other universities. The idea is to portray UPSI not as a Universiti Pendidikan. They want to portray UPSI as the same as Universiti Malaya but there will be a lot of faculties. That is why you see they have taken all “teaching of…” Among our courses (Faculty of Languages), all the teaching listening, teaching of reading… we don’t have them anymore. We are now very content based. I am 15
worried, we are still producing teachers. We give them the content. They know the content, but how are they going to teach? It’s just like getting this Bachelor of Art students, like literature students and things like that, Bachelor in English, they learn English, they learn literature and then now, when they go to schools, they cannot go to schools as teachers, they must take diploma of education for one year. So our students are quite similar to that. They learn grammar, they learn literature and all this, but how are they going to teach? The methods, I don’t know how they are going to teach. Of course you have methodology and all that. Methodology is just methodology. But when you talk about literature, whoever is teaching methodology are not from Faculti Bahasa. It cannot be taught separately. When the teachers go to school, I think they will have problems and to compete with UM, UKM, USM, UPM…we are nowhere. We are very young. Of course people are going to say, “how long are we going to say that?” But of course Prof Zakaria will not agree with me. But if you ask, I still feel that we should be teachers’ university and concentrate on producing excellent students rather than making it into rojak. Zuraimi: It has been almost 13 years UPSI has been upgraded into a university, an IPTA. Do you think that UPSI is qualified enough to be a university? Mr. Seva: Why not? I don’t see any reason why it is not. But we need to pay attention to a lot of things. Erm, the level of the lecturers themselves and then like I told you we need to look at the content again… just getting Professors, Doctors from other universities does not guarantee that. Of course you see that when they grade universities, they said Universiti Malaya is first university in Malaysia (in terms of ranking), what they look at is the number of professors there, how many doctors you have and the number of students you have, the number of foreign lecturer and students you have, and only part of it is the content. I think that rather than chasing after the grade where we stand, we don’t bother… we produce excellent teachers. That is our target, which is our objective. What is our objectivce? This is Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, we should produce excellent teachers. Schools should call us and say “please send your teachers to our school”. Now, when we send our teachers, there the Principal of the school says “I don’t want UPSI students.” Instead of doing something to that, we are wasting our time thinking of other things. Azhar: You said that the teachers and principals always complain about our students. What do they usually complain about? Mr. Seva: Don’t use the word always, ok. I didn’t say always (laughing). I said some schools, some schools already stopped accepting our students, they said “No, please don’t send (them here).” Complains about the level of proficiency… I can talk only about the Faculty Bahasa, and specifically English Department. Number one is the level of proficiency of the students. One case, it was so bad in Convent Ipoh. It was so bad that the principal ask the student not to teach English, but asked her to 16
teach History. They said “you are not fit to teach English.” That is one. Another example I can give you is I noticed it myself, our students… some of them do not go to classes. They called the class monitor, asked the class to go to the library. Some of them don’t go to school. So, these are the cases you know. I think we have to do something about that. Azhar: Why do you think this happens? Mr. Seva: I think we should not blame UPSI, it could be the students themselves. If the students are like this we cannot change. But the four years in UPSI, he should have shown his colour. So, what action has been taken? We just don’t know. Number two is attitude, you know when you are doing psychology and all that they should help the students isn’t it? You did psychology, philosophy right? All of this should help the students, this kind of students. But they don’t change, they go there and become worse. I don’t know what is wrong and where we have gone wrong. Azhar: We heard that UPSI’s budget is being cut due to our economic status now. What do you think about this? Mr. Seva: The government will not do it if they do not have problem. I think not many of them know we are in serious trouble. At outside everything seems to be ok, the policeman just got the raise in their salary right? With all the problem, they can give pay to the policeman. We really do not how bad it is. I feel it is very bad, a lot of things are being cut. Azhar: Last question, what is your advice to the teacher trainees outside there? Mr. Seva: Very simple, always give 100% attention to the students. You (yourself) are not important. If you come to this profession, you must be willing to sacrifice. You cannot go to school and then teach in the morning, and then say “No, I cannot go back in the afternoon. I cannot get involved in extra-curricular activities, because I have to help my father at his shop.” You cannot (do that). Maybe you cannot come everyday, but at least two or three times a day you have to sacrifice. So, if you are going to be a teacher, you must be willing to sacrifice because at the end of the day what is important is the student. Always put the importance on the students. Think like this, your children go to school and the teachers do not attend classes, do not attend extra-curricular activities… how will you feel? I’m sure you will go to school and make a mess at the school. I’m sure you will do that. So when you are a teacher, think the same. Think that your work is there, you have a duty to do. You have a responsibility to do it well. Once you do that… this is self experience ok. Once you do that, your students are going to be good. They may not all score A’s and all that, they may not. But at the end of the day, they will know that somebody has helped them along the way. Don’t just think about academic only, that’s why I said you have to go back (to school) In the afternoon whereby you mix with the students, you play with the students, play football with them and all that. If you 17
don’t know how to play it’s ok. Let them be happy, let them beat you and all that. You will have no any discipline problem. Later, when they leave school you will get the reward. How? They will get in touch with you, they come and see you. You know, my students in 1980’s are still in touch with me. It’s not a joke. So, I think as long as you give the importance to the students, everything will be ok. Zuraimi: So, I think that’s the end of our interview. We would like to say thank you for being our interviewee. Mr. Seva: no problem, thank you very much for giving me this opportunity.
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