Friday, December 1, 2017

Smart e-mail practices

In a business e-mail structure, you will have the following:
When we finished our studies, we delved into the world where work isn’t like school. 

    I’m quite lucky to major in both Communications and Psychology. Majoring in Psychology doesn’t mean that I can read minds, it actually helped me to listen more and try to understand people (in fact I think my empathy increased). 

    On the other hand, Communications major not only taught me how to write for the media, it also taught me Business Communications. In Business Communications, I learned how to communicate with the employer when I apply for a job, how to write resumes, cover letters and writing e-mails among others.

    I’m sure some of you already know some of these, but perhaps it would be a good idea to refresh. Before sending the e-mail, you may find these important: 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Writing E-mails

Do I need to write this?
It's one of the questions that you need to ask when writing e-mails. In fact, it is a question that you need to ask before doing anything - is there a need for this?

It is important to ask the question because e-mails should be concise and to the point. It shouldn't be superfluous (read: wordy, too many things said, unnecessary information, more than enough). So whatever is said in the e-mail should inform the reader what is important - if you're still scratching your head: why you're writing the e-mail.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reading and Comprehension

Ever wondered why you need to learn to read and write?
Welcome to reality where it isn't always fair. It will be a cruel teacher that teaches you with hard lessons.

    If you don't read the terms and conditions in a contract/legal document, you might get an unwelcome surprise if it catches you unawares.

    Recently, a letter to The Star newspaper was about children who could get A+ in their SPM 2017 English paper went viral. The writer said that the children didn't read the question properly. They were supposed to write about where they would move to, in another part of Malaysia, if they had the opportunity? The writer said that the students did not read the question properly, and since the section is worth 50 marks, the children shouldn't be severely penalized and only given a 3 marks penalty.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Holiday Writing Prompts

The school holiday is looming closer. 
    Some of you may be parents reading this blog, in which case, you might be looking for something for your children to practice during the holidays. Well, look no further. I'll share the holiday writing prompts that I distributed to my students as holiday homework back in 2015.

    The purpose of the Holiday Writing Prompts is to allow them to develop their writing skills. Bear in mind that my students have no basic English. I created this booklet so that they could practice writing and use adjectives, nouns and verbs in their work.

    It is short and simple. Examples of adjectives, nouns and verbs are given at the beginning of the booklet. An example of an essay using all three components is included at the end of the booklet (I wrote it when I was 14 years old as a hobby).

    It doesn't have to be long. Just around 100 words. Some of my students ended up writing around 150 words although there were lots of grammatical error - but I'm glad that they tried!

Who knows? It could help your children too!

Side note: Maybe you're a teacher finding things to plan for future short holidays, so you can use this too!

You can download through this link:

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Correct English Usage When Writing Minutes

Writing minutes is a staple job for secretaries. 
    When I studied in secondary school and in university, I was often appointed as the secretary and I also found that secretaries can be rotated for certain tasks in some companies. It is therefore important to brush up on your English Language to make sure that the correct information is recorded. Who knows, you could be the next secretary!

Among the things a secretary should take note on are:

Sunday, October 1, 2017

English VS Manglish

We'd switch to Manglish from proper English all to often (I've stopped it since primary school). Here's a funny video that is true in Malaysian culture, most of the time.

You'd be surprised that the Oxford dictionary has adopted some Manglish/Singlish in its lexicon.

I Have a Dream

Ever had to express your dreams towards others?
Well here's a way to express it, to share your dreams with others in written form.

A dream remains a dream if you never act upon it. 

    Years ago, I studied Graphic Design and Typography. It was a core subject in Communications major. We used the Adobe CS3, then CS6 for our projects, assignments and exams. Then, I did an Intercultural Communications project on the Cosplay Culture.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

20 Words to Avoid in Business Writing

    When writing/reading business English in Malaysia, we often come across words and phrases that actually don't give an impact in the whole text. Sometimes they seem like it's directly translated from Malay to English, etc. Often, sentences are needlessly long and flowery. 

    According to David Hirst (2010), these are a few of the key words and phrases that we really should throw away in the linguistic dustbin: 

Friday, July 21, 2017

Active Voice and Passive Voice

Lecturers, teachers - educators often emphasize the importance of writing in the active voice. Ever wondered why?

    Writing in the active voice makes the reader feel involved and the message gets transmitted quickly. Usually, reports are not written in the passive voice (ayat pasif) because that will only cause readers to feel tired. In other words, get to the point by writing in the active voice.

According to (n.d.):
To know whether you are writing in the active or passive voice, identify the subject of the sentence and decide whether the subject is doing the action or being acted upon.
     Passive Voice: the subject is the receiver of the action. 
The tax return (subject) was completed (action) before the April 15 deadline by Mr. Doe. 
     Active Voice: the subject does an action to an object.
Mr. Doe (subject) completed (action) the tax return (object) before the April 15 deadline.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Teaching in a school that almost never uses English despite learning the language reinforced one thing:

Never do literal translation.
Many people opt to do literal translation, word for word even in official documents whether it be in school or at the workplace. That is a big NO.

Why do I say so?

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Proofreading means examining your text carefully to find and correct typographical errors and mistakes in grammar, style, and spelling.
The Writing Center @ The University of Wisconsin - Madison
I cannot stress the importance of proofreading enough. Before you submit any document, make sure that you check for errors and correct them. It would do wonders to different matters, be it official or personal.

We often overlook important details, miscalculate findings, made wrong assumptions because we missed out some details or facts, and many other things. Does it surprise you that employers will look at your applications and submitting them without proofreading could have consequences?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Reading for Purpose

I often discover that those who frequently read are able to write better than their peers. Reading helps to add/improve vocabulary and improve sentence structure. You may ask why I can argue so?

Based on my experience teaching younger students who were able to read faster (one at the age of 4, compared to her classmates aged 6) and teaching youths aged 12 to 16, the difference between them is the exposure to words, literacy, if you get that.

Often, in school context, students are required to read for purpose(s). In the government school environment, students are required to memorize texts and information. However, this has been integrated with speaking, listening and writing elements.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Importance of English Language

When I was in secondary school, I had to write an essay on the importance of English Language. When I re-read it recently, what I wrote 9 years ago was true and still is. It was written in Bahasa Malaysia, but the meaning still resounds even for the English Language. 

Learning English doesn't mean that we'll forget our mother tongue. It just means that we're smart enough to find ways to gain information because there are things that still aren't translated into Malay Language. Knowing another language gives you an added advantage.


What is English Language?

Good question.

English is actually an Anglo-Saxon language. Words in the English language are mostly borrowed from Latin, Greek and if you've noticed, some Malay words are now adopted in the Oxford Dictionary.

Recently, I acquired the book Making Sense  by David Crystal. It described the English Language in story-like passages that won't leave you bored. The author also describes how children develop their language and also how children acquire languages. Turns out: it's from infancy stage!

Great word choice is something we rarely see these days

Article:  Primary 1 boy with first-day jitters flees Pahang school, pursued by guard When I read the article, I was amazed with the word cho...