Archive for the 'school' Category

learning a new language

Somehow it feels like all the words I’ve encountered are floating freely in the space of my mind, waiting to be tethered down into the right places with the laws of grammar…

keng bos?

Learning a new language is always…… painful. But now at least I can say, ‘Teng bong! Yo (name). Yo papiah Inggres, China, Singgres kon Kristang. Mutu grandi merseh!’

Translation: ‘How are you? I am (name). I speak English, Chinese and Kristang. Thank you very much!’ In Kristang, of course!

NB Title of this entry means ‘Who (are) you?’ Sophie’s World, a primer on Western philosophy, begins with the eponymous heroine opens her mailbox to find a note with the question ‘Who are you?’ I read that book when I was 14 and enjoyed it tremendously.

back to school

Rushing to NUS for a 9 am lesson and ending up being late (thankfully, a few others were even later than I was!) certainly brought back memories of the bad ol’ days. Reliving horrid history aside, my very first Kristang lesson this morning was a blast.

At one point, I asked the teacher Kevin if Kristang had any inflections, and he said no, which made it quite simple to learn (which means that it’s probably an analytic language). During the break, one middle-aged lady (who works at the university) told me she thought I was a teacher when she heard me ask about inflections. Haha!

We also played a number of fun games to reinforce the grammar. One was going over to another group to ask them what languages they spoke – all in simple Kristang, of course Our guest teacher, an elderly Eurasian called Mr Bernard Mesenas, commented that I was very serious during this activity, which was very good. :D

(And this is the first time I’m doing a ‘third’ language, not counting studying Japanese at the Ministry of Education Language Centre way back when I was in Secondary 1. The journey from the centre to home was long and tiring, and I gave up the ghost after four months of twice-weekly lessons.)

an endangered language

Way back in my previous life as an linguistics undergrad, I learnt about Kristang, a highly endangered creole spoken mainly by Eurasians of Portuguese descent in Singapore and Malaysia. (I am not one myself.) If I remember correctly, I had toyed with the idea of writing about the language for my ISM paper, but I obviously didn’t speak it nor know anyone who could. Eventually I focused on something else instead.

Last month, I came across this article (which was originally found here). The author, Melissa De Silva, mentioned that she’d been attending Kristang lessons conducted by undergrad Kevin Martens Wong, and best of all, the second round of classes would be starting soon! What an incredible opportunity! Naturally I emailed Kevin to sign up.

Yesterday, Kevin sent all of us an extremely comprehensive email to ‘clear up outstanding administrative matters, and to provide you with details about getting to class and what to bring’. (Word informed me that it was actually 3489 words – much longer than most of the essays I had to write in university! LOL.) Reading it made me quite excited but also a little worried cos I left school eons ago. In her article, Melissa noted that Kevin ‘basically learned Kristang on his own by reading up (and memorising!) the scant available material on the language, such as dictionaries and books and poetry collections written by … Joan Marbeck’, so I’m hoping it won’t be too difficult.

Now, I’m counting down the days to my very first lesson!!! :D

cinquains

Operating Clean Room continues this weekend. Was clearing my secondary school stuff when I came across two cinquains written in Chinese for my CCA when I was in Secondary 1. (Cinquains, a type of five-line poem, were invented by American poet Adelaide Crapsey in the early 1900s. Read some of her cinquains here.)

兔子
可爱 机灵
吃草 跳跃 挖洞
活波的小东西
绒毛娃娃

飞机
闪亮的双翼
起飞 滑翔 降落
在云中飞翔
滑翔机

Upon review 16 years later, I would rewrite the second poem thus, to remove all the repetitive words and make other improvements:

飞机
明亮的双翼
起飞 滑翔 降落
在云中航行
科学奇迹

a love of……

One of the more curious things that four years of secondary school instilled in me is a love of…… filing. Yes, you read right. Filing.

Back then most of the teachers would collect our files for each subject, in the middle and close to the end of the school year, to check that all our handouts and assignments were in order. Imagine the number of files they would have to go through! We’d get a score for the condition of our file, which would count towards our final grade. It seemed like a really straightforward way to get full marks, so I’d always put my file together diligently. (Proper filing also made it easier to revise when the end of year exams came around – which I guess was probably the teachers’ point.) I’m quite proud to say I usually got full marks or something close to it.

13 years after graduating, I still enjoy punching holes in my documents (mainly personal finance these days) and arranging them in the right files. Ah, the joys of filing!

paper and ink

A few weeks ago, I commenced Operation Clean Room, as one of my New Year resolutions is to clear my study. I didn’t think I could wipe out the whole room in a day, so I decided my strategy was to divide and conquer, attacking one corner at a time. Few days ago, I had fired the opening salvo by pulling out 50 kilograms of old magazines (the karung guni man who came by today thought it was more like 30 though). Today I targeted the stuff from my secondary school and junior college days. (Yes, I have documents dating back 16 years……) The battle is more than half won and I will continue the campaign in the next few days. The amount of paper and ink expended in six years of education is frankly quite amazing! As I flipped through the pages and pages, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the past……

shaolin and wudang

So the annual Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) results were released last Friday. As expected, there was an explosion of PSLE and secondary school selection threads on the KiasuParents forum. Read some of them today, and this really amused me……

Someone, on choosing between Dunman High and Raffles Girls’:

This is an easy one to me.

R.G.S

Being a Rafflesian is one of the best things that you can get as a Singaporean student. The only other comparable one is to be a HwaChongian. They are like the Shaolin and Wudang in Singapore’s education system.

from here

those were the days

Was at the MRT station near my house this afternoon, when I spotted a young man in a Tiffany blue tee emblazoned with these words in bold black:

Student
+
Dying
=
Studying

arrange by colour

Israel is 以色列 (Yiselie) in Chinese. 以 (yi) can mean ‘by’; 色 (se), ‘colour’; and 列 (lie), ‘arrange’.

The very first time I encountered the term ‘以色列’ was in a cloze passage from a Chinese exam paper in primary school. I did not realize that it referred to a country and simply thought that it meant ‘arrange by colour’. Which did puzzle me a little bit, as that intepretation did not seem to fit into the context of the entire sentence. I only found out what it was quite some time later. :)

the power of social capital

Once upon a time, I looked at my boss’ list of Facebook friends, and noted, with some admiration, that it was full of doctors, lawyers, civil servants, academics, and other movers and shakers of the like.

Then I looked at my own, and realized that it was exactly the same.

And that is, perhaps, one of the most best legacies that attending a top school can bestow upon you…… yes, the power of social capital……

the solitary diner

Took leave yesterday and today. Somehow found myself at my alma mater National University of Singapore (NUS) this afternoon. Since I hadn’t been to Cedele for quite some time, decided to lunch at the Cedele branch in NUS.

280513 5

It’s a tiny outlet in a bookstore called Bookhaven, which itself is in the recently completed NUS University Town (a pretty cool place in all, if I may add!). (I was curious about who operated the bookstore, and later asked the cashier, who told me that it was run by the NUS Co-op.)

Continue reading ‘the solitary diner’

nothing gold can stay

I first encountered this poem while reading The Outsiders by S E Hinton, which I did for English class in Secondary 1……

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.

mr taxi

Looking back, I guess I was a pretty good university student…… I never skipped any lectures, although admittedly I was often late for many morning classes. :P

Once in the first semester of my first year (late 2006), I was late for a 10 am tutorial, so I decided to cab from Clementi MRT and ended up taking a taxi with an equally tardy schoolmate, a tall Chinese guy. The very first time I shared a cab with a complete stranger!

During the ride we didn’t talk at all, but I noticed he was reading some Geog level 3000 notes. As we were reaching our destination, the AS3 building at Arts, I wondered how to broach the topic of payment. At that point, he coughed, so I looked at him, and he dropped two $1 coins into my hand, which was half the fare.  Somehow, I found his actions rather amusing, and can still remember clearly what he did, although I can no longer recall what he looked like at all.

NB Title of this entry was of course named for the catchy Girls’ Generation song Mr Taxi – you can watch the music video here!

5.30 am

Daphne Whatsapped me at exactly 5.30 am this morning, which I assume was when she woke up for school, and that she didn’t stay up till then instead. :P

When I was in junior college, I woke up at 5.30 am to get to school by 7.30 am every day. Sometimes, when I passed a certain neighbouring block on my way to the MRT around 6 am daily, I would see this little boy sitting at the void deck, presumably waiting for the school bus. He looked like he was in lower primary, and judging from his uniform, he was probably studying in Nanyang Primary or Pei Chun Public.

It just so happens that neither school (two of the ‘better’ primary schools in Singapore) is anywhere near my estate. So whenever I spotted him, I always felt a frisson of sympathy. He should have been still in bed at that hour, even if only for a little while more! I chose my school, and getting up early was par for the course, so I couldn’t complain. But I was quite sure that he didn’t choose his!

That was nine years ago, so the little boy is probably in secondary school or even in a tertiary institution now. Occasionally I wonder how he turned out. Hopefully well. Am I the only one, or does anyone else think about the people they encounter, even for a fleeting moment – how are they now?


wordpress visitor counter

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers