My son has been in his preschool for six months now. I recently got his class picture, which I’ll post below. The picture was ready weeks ago, but when his cikgu, teacher, would tell him to tell us it was ready, he would reply with a firm “anh” of assent. And then promptly forget. Or chances are just as good he had no idea what she just said. You’d never know he’s only catching about a tenth of the Bahasa Malaysia he hears, because anytime anyone asks him anything, “anh” he says. “Paham, Ridhwan?” “Anh!”

In spite of that, we got his first report card after the semester exam: First out of 21. I’m bragging, I know, can’t help it. Of course, my US readership is probably thinking, “Report card? Exam? In Preschool?!” It took me some getting used to, too. Especially with the homework. Some evenings, there is just no getting him to sit and concentrate for half an hour. I can’t bring myself to come down heavy on a 5-year-old for that. Besides, he doesn’t grasp the evaluation process anyway. When I told him he got first in the class, all I got was a blank look and a shrug.

You have to click below for the picture; he’s second from the right, first row.

Published by bingregory

Official organ of an American Muslim in Malaysian Borneo, featuring plants, pantuns and pictures from the Malay archipelago. Oversharing since 2002.

Join the Conversation


  1. Sweet!

    Do you teach him both languages – English and Malay?

    Is there any arrangement of the Wife speaks Malay to him and you speak English to him ?

  2. Yes, we want him to learn both. Without a doubt the arrangement you suggest is best. Theoretically, she speaks to them in Malay and I in English, but what more often happens is we all just speak rojak. So now, for example, at the dinner table my three-year old daughter says “nak more lagi” when she wants seconds. Even though this is what we are reduced to, I find that way of speaking hideous, especially the widespread use of english personal pronouns in an otherwise BM sentence. “I dah bagi you card I, kenapa you tak call”, that kind of thing… eek.

  3. You are one funny feller lah. Lucky you not in America man. Shit, you’d be stoned to death or something. Bush is an arse.

  4. Well done to your son!
    [Sadly to say, education system in M’sia has always been haywire. Things change everytime the minister change. Poor thing, those little kids have to go thru so much of memorising and tons of homework even at the pre-school level, not to mention when they start their ‘proper’ school; late nite is a norm. On top of that, going to school is like moving house; burdening such delicate bodies with truck size luggages (read school bags).]
    As most things there, it operates on the concept of ‘quick fix’. Not much emphasis on the basic concept and understanding, but more on the quick result (thru routine + memorising). Tak tahulah nak cakap apa lagi…(sorry, sidetracking).
    by the way… it’s good to be a bilingual. keep it up. msia boleh!

  5. hehe… atok is rite but then again.. educational system has to be dynamic. kids today r different from kids 30 years ago. my mom teaches in a kindergarten and she teaches tauhid, sirah, malay (both rumi and jawi), english, math (std 1), science, ayat lazim, adab, art. and she teaches this to kids from 4-6 years old. can u imagine?

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply