TEACHING SPM NOVEL AMONG VERY WEAK ESL LEARNERS
Teaching novel itself is challenging as many Malaysian learners are not really into reading literature novels and they are more reluctant to read literature novels IN ENGLISH! Teachers' wisdom, patience and perseverance are challenged when they have to teach novels in the last or second last class of Form 5. By hook or by crook, the novel must be taught and the weak (restless, naughty, sleepy, problematic too) should be able to understand it. How do you teach them novel? What is the best material for them?
I started teaching at my present school, SMK Taman Mutiara on 1st January 2017. Most of the learners here are weak. Realising their very low proficiency level of English, I developed "Novel Marathon: Dear Mr. Kilmer" for them. Please click here for the material. Obviously, you can see frequent use of Malay words and I believe I do not have to justify why the Malay words are there.
TIPS IN USING "NOVEL MARATHON: DEAR MR. KILMER": SOME POSSIBLE MODIFICATIONS
Teachers can delete the details in Column 3 (Themes) and Column 4 (Moral Values) starting from Chapter 5. Do not delete anything in Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 4 because they serve as samples of the themes and moral lessons to be written when the third and fourth columns are deleted in Chapter 5 onward. Encourage them to reuse the themes and moral values mentioned in the early chapters.
As you can see, learners must present/ write three viewpoints at the end of each chapter. It is alright to let the weak learners present their viewpoints in Malay first. Then, ask the whole class to translate the ideas into English. Of course, teachers must help them if necessary. In giving their viewpoints/ opinions, encourage the learners to reuse the moral values in Column 4.
Finally, as each chapter is read, please make sure the weak learners underline the main events or incidents. It would be wise to spend some time after each chapter to ask the learners to memorise the significant events/ incidents. Design simple activities to reinforce their memorisation of characters and events. Any effort to read and memorise important details of the novel must be done in class. Most of the weak learners from the last or second last class will not do any reading of the novel on their own at home!
Personally, I am still exploring ways to teach SPM novel among my weak learners. I hope the materials and ideas shared here can give you some insights on how to teach novel among weak learners.