Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Pick up the reading habit

Sunday, March 15th, 2020
There’s a need to promote the reading culture across the nation.

LETTERS: THIS year, Kuala Lumpur is named Unesco World Book Capital (KLWBC 2020) although, disappointingly, a Malaysian reads an average of two books a year.

We spend almost 14 hours a day on the phone and browsing the Internet. In fact, almost a quarter of our day is spent on social media.

Despite technological and digitisation advances affecting and changing the way we search, process, use and share information, we must promote the reading culture across the nation, at home and in schools.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 2018 Programme International Student Assessment states that when reading, we must
be able to understand, evaluate, use and reflect on and engage with texts in order to achieve goals, develop knowledge and potential, and participate in society.

Hence, mastering reading skills is essential.

Here are some tips to be a better reader. Find a quiet place to read. When reading, stop thinking about problems or anything that may distract you. Focusing on the content will help with faster comprehension.

Vocalising words when one is reading slows down reading speed and affects brain assimilation capabilities.

Set a goal on the quantity of material to read per day. Increase it as time goes by.

By knowing your reading speed through measuring quantity of words read per hour, you will know how much progress you are making.

Do not read words one after another. Read words in groups. Apply skim reading technique by scanning topics and subtopics of pages, paragraphs and chapters. Scan key words and try to
determine the content through experience.

If you have children, read to them. The reading habit is best cultivated at a young age to ensure that they will be readers when they grow up.

When my siblings and I were young, our parents had no time to do so but they converted a room for reading, with bookshelves, and encouraged us to buy books.

Until today, we still select the books that we like to read.

Education is lifelong learning. We should endeavour to educate ourselves all the time and there is no better way than finding knowledge in books.

Abraham Lincoln once said: “All I have learned, I learned from books. My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.”

So put down the phone and pick up a book.


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NST Leader: Books, a reading

Friday, March 13th, 2020
Studies after studies show that great minds read a lot. FLICKR/Abhi Sharma
THE World Book Day on March 5 went unnoticed like a wanted criminal. Did politicking of the recent past kill the book? Or is this a sign of a dying national habit?

Studies after studies show that great minds read a lot. And they read consistently, too. With them, reading is a habit. Not an occasional pursuit.

What’s more, science is for the turning of pages. Reading boosts the brain and expands our intellectual horizon. Having spent enormous years living a rich life, they “book” them like an Everyman’s Guide. Call it vicarious learning.

Behind every great man there is a shelf of books.

But Malaysians are a difficult lot to convince when it comes to politics and books. Maybe because both are a numbers’ game.

Let’s talk about books. Literacy data revealed in 2016 tell an impressive story: 85 per cent of Malaysians read regularly. But a deep dive tells a sad story hidden behind the number. Only three per cent read books.

We may be a nation of book buyers — survey in 2018 showed that 76 per cent of Malaysians bought at least one book a year — but we may not be reading what we buy. Picodi also reveals a troubling fact: 24 per cent of Malaysians do not buy any books at all. With hope, they borrow to read.

People in developed nations read 40 books a year, an average of three books a month. We may not be a developed nation yet, but we should not be left too far behind.

There is also a gender divide in Malaysia when it comes to reading. Women get to the bottom of the page faster than men. Is that why women are, on average, better than men off the pages? Women or men, we must be a nation of readers.

This won’t happen without urges and nudges. And money and method. Reading must be caused, and at a very young age, too. Like it is in every reading nation.

Experts tell us reading isn’t like speech. To speak, all an infant needs to do is to be around people and in a year, he is all words. Not all infants are like that, of course. Some are known even to have taken five years to utter the first intelligible word.

Acquiring a reading habit is more complex. It needs more than being surrounded by books. We can’t leave a child in the national library and five years later expect him to give us a reading of Charles Dickens’ The Great Expectations. That will be a great expectation, indeed.

More is needed. And it must be done at the national level. Homes must be groomed to be a reading environment. So must the community. If the people cannot go to the library, the library must go to them.

Public and private sectors must come together to integrate resources and commitment to make a great reading public. There was such an effort in 2018 when the National Reading Decade (2020-2030) was shaped into being by the Education Ministry. Will it survive the fall of the government? Time will tell. In that time, perhaps a book or two should be read.

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As KL prepares to take mantle of World Book Capital 2020, kids encouraged to read

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2019
“Book authors and publications can take this opportunity to promote their titles throughout the (year-long) campaign,” Fahmi added. STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRiZAL

KUALA LUMPUR: Parents are urged to inculcate the habit of reading among their children – especially as the capital city prepares to take the mantle of World Book Capital 2020.

It is hoped that the international celebration of reading under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) will further boost KL-ites’ love of the written word, especially in book form.

“While we have e-books, they are nothing compared to the feeling of holding a book and completing reading it,” said Lembah Pantai Member of Parliament Fahmi Fadzil.

He called on everyone to make an effort to read at least one book a month.

“The material doesn’t have to be something serious – even comics will do,” Fahmi said in his speech at the Back-to-School programme, organised by Pertubuhan Anak Kerinchi, at Taman Bukit Angkasa here, today.

He also invited players in the publishing industry to take advantage of KL’s World Book Capital 2020 status to highlight the joys of reading and the wide array of material available.

“Book authors and publications can take this opportunity to promote their titles throughout the (year-long) campaign,” Fahmi added.

As World Book Capital, Kuala Lumpur will stage a range of events and initiatives to promote books and reading throughout 2020, starting with the World Book and Copyright Day on April 23.

On a separate matter, Fahmi appealed to parents to monitor their children’s activities, especially during school holidays.

“I’m especially concerned with the basikal lajak trend among the youth.

“Here, in Lembah Pantai, some children can be seen riding bicycles on the NPE (New Pantai Expressway), which could pose a danger to their safety,” he said.

Fahmi added that parents, and the community at large, should spend time with children and conduct meaningful activities which would enhance their lives and keep them out of harm’s way.

By Nuradzimmah Daim.


NST Leader: Big Think

Sunday, November 24th, 2019
Reading makes a full man. NSTP

TODAY’s Leader is about life’s big questions. About why we are here and other deep questions about reality. After all, today is World Philosophy Day.

No, the aim is not to be a one-day Socrates. Or a Plato or an Aristotle. There is no harm in one day-deep thinking, though. After all, as the contemporary teacher of thinking, Dr Edward De Bono, says, thinking is very hard to do. But it is a skill like any other, and it can be learned.

Unfortunately, as De Bono has found out through his Big Think journey round the world, including Malaysia, thinking, though the most important human skill, is often neglected.

One reason is that many feel thinking is only for philosophers. This may have been true 2,500 years ago when the philosophically-minded Greeks pondered the imponderables. It is true that the ancient philosophers looked out their windows to see the world in its splendid ways.

And they shared this splendour with others through their writings. But as time passed, the writings were more about their windows than the splendours of the world.

Thanks to modern philosophers, we have moved from windows to the world. Political philosopher Michael Sandel, who teaches at Harvard University, is one such.

In his lectures and books such as Justice and What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, he stimulates debates on how we view the world and on what moral basis.

In another of his book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Sandel carves out a big place for moral purpose in our lives. The Observer of the United Kingdom once called him the master of life’s big questions.

We, too, must engage our minds on such big questions. After all, we are great meaning seekers.

We do these things in journalism — stimulating debates about life’s big and small questions. And proffering points of view.

Philosophers have a place in journalism, not the types who write reams on what makes a good window but how to keep this world as good as we found it.

Philosophy enables a particular turn of mind. One that questions and explores possibilities. De Bono says 90 per cent of error in thinking is due to perception. Philosophy can help change this error-prone perception. Time we thought seriously about thinking.

For this to happen, the teaching of philosophy must change. Too much of pontification is not good for the discipline. Teaching students to philosophise isn’t enough. They must be taught to do philosophy.

The fault may be that our academia may have strayed too far from the etymology of “philosophy” — love of wisdom. Wisdom only comes to those who think their way through this human world.

And act according to this wisdom. How should we live our lives? What makes right actions right? Should everything be for sale? Our universities must make the tools to wisdom — critical thinking and analysis — available to our students. But wisdom just doesn’t happen.

It needs to be caused, and early too. Big questions get answered well by those who read widely. Schools must encourage this reading habit. Reading newspapers daily helps. Francis Bacon was right. Reading makes a full man. So does Big Think.

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Read more for better, developed thinking

Sunday, November 24th, 2019
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the programme was aimed at cultivating a reading culture among Penangites. – STR/SHAHNAZ FAZLIE SHAHRIZAL

GEORGE TOWN: Reading culture among the people, especially the younger generation, is important to ensure mature and developed thinking.

This was the message from the National Reading Decade Programme, which was launched today

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the programme was aimed at cultivating a reading culture among Penangites.

He said this was essential as reading was the first step to developing a more mature and developed thinking citizens.

“Reading ensure the development of a country, and based on statistics of the 2014 Malaysian Reading Habits Interim Studies showed that 95 per cent of Malaysians read an average of 15 books a year, which was an increase compared to eight to 12 books a year in 2010.

“However, our aim is to increase the average number to 31 a year,” he said at the launch of National Reading Decade Programme.

Muhammad Fazrul Ariff Saad, 29, from Kulim, who received the Little Reader Treasure Box for having bought a lot of books and visited the library frequently, said he often took his children there to develop reading habit.

“Libraries are commonly thought of as a stilted environment where one must be absolutely quiet, but most libraries currently have a very open concept with lots of activities and also special area for children.

“Children can play, read and participate in a lot of other activities in the libraries,” he said.

He said he usually took his two daughters to the library on weekends or book shops to inculcate an appreciation and love for books.

“It starts with the parents. We have to teach our children to love books and we have to start early,” he said.

Teacher Rina Chan, 43, said besides improving their command of languages, reading would ensure an enlightened and broad-minded generation.

“he reading culture was prevalent in the past as it was one of the main entertainment or leisure activities and modes of learning.

“These days, there are so many ways of learning, but I believe reading is still one of the most important method of gaining knowledge and it’s not just reading of books but news, magazines and other legitimate materials on the Internet,” she said.

However, she said the public should apply cautious in relying heavily on materials in social media sites.

“Check the validity of the information, because there are so many fake news and fake information that is being disseminated online that it would only retard one’s thinking.

“Bearing this in mind, reading books should still be the most important source of reading material.” she said.

By Balvin Kaur.

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Reading and Reading aloud

Monday, November 18th, 2019

HAVE you ever noticed some children who could read fluently but have problems comprehending a text? There are others who can’t read a single word on the page but may understand when they are read to. Reading aloud means to pronounce words correctly. It is the ability to associate the sound with the printed words on the page or on the screen.

Generally, in a reading lesson in Malaysian schools, students are asked to choral repeat the passage known as group read-aloud (e.g., Ghanaguru, Ng &, Ng, 2019; Yacoob, 2006; Yacoob & Pinter, 2008). It is presumed that students who can read aloud fluently are good readers. The truth is pronunciation and understanding are two distinct elements, yet important aspects of reading. Pronunciation is to give each syllable a sound so that fluency is achieved. Understanding a text is more complicated. It involves the readers’ vocabulary size, their prior knowledge of the topic, syntax and lexis to make sense of the text. In the higher-order processes, making inferences and reasoning are involved.

The goal of this paper is to discuss reading aloud in the classrooms. In the first section, I will focus briefly what student reading aloud is and suggest ways to improve reading fluency. In the second section, I will emphasise the importance of teacher reading aloud to students.

Students read aloud

When struggling readers are asked to read aloud, their focus is on decoding a text correctly on the page without paying attention to the meaning construction or thinking about the narrative. They use all their mental faculties to decode words.

As a result, they lose focus and are not able to comprehend the words on the page. This is a challenge for at-risk students. The thought of pronouncing correctly each word in the paragraph fills them with dread as they cannot listen to others who are reading. Therefore, reading aloud can be a stressor.

When students struggle to read the sections of text aloud or when they mispronounce, teachers tend to correct them on the spot. At best, the students repeat the word and learn the right way of pronouncing it. At worst, this may cause humour and shame particularly when they are laughed at by their friends. Eventually, this kills their interest in reading. As evidenced by other research, oral reading can be nerve-racking to some students. Even good readers feel uncomfortable to read aloud, they feel embarrassed and worried about what others may think of them if they cannot pronounce properly.

Having said that, reading fluency is crucial. Research has showed that reading fluency and comprehension are highly correlated. That means when students are reading fluently, it is likely that they understand what they are reading.

Teaching phonics is one way to help young learners improve their reading fluency. Each letter in English has a sound called a phoneme. Children learn the three-letter word or CVC word which comprised of a consonant, a vowel and another consonant. Then they are introduced to vowel digraphs. A digraph is made up of two vowels put together to make a sound. For example, /oo/, /ee/, and /ai/ are vowel digraphs. This is followed by introducing consonant digraphs i.e., two consonants put together to make one sound such as /ch/, /th/. In other words, children move from learning individual letter sound to blending the sound and finally saying the whole word and subsequently a sentence.

Readers theatre is another effective way of teaching reading fluency. It is a technique for students to read aloud with expressions. Readers theatre is like a small-scale drama in which students do not need to memorise their parts. They retain their scripts and hold them with their left hands. Like drama, students are able to move freely, using gestures and body movements. Readers theatre can be performed anywhere – it can be the floor of the classroom – without stage sets, costumes or props. Instead, readers use their voices to express themselves. Repeated reading is the gem of readers theatre. Students practise reading before performing and this gives them a purpose to read aloud and to perform which they enjoy fondly. Since everyone has a part, students will not feel that they are put on a spot, not even struggling readers. As students practise reading over and over again, fluency is achieved. Not only that, their comprehension also improves. In essence, readers theatre helps develop fluency and increase comprehension.

Teachers read to students

Teachers reading aloud to students bridges the divide to literacy. Reading aloud to students “motivates students to read on their own, model good reading, promote critical thinking, and create a sense of community in the classroom” (Oczkus, 2012). Early childhood educators have long been aware of the importance of reading aloud to children and the role it plays in children’s emergent literacy development and eventual reading achievement (Bus, van Ijzendoorn, & Pellegrini, 1999; Fox, 2013; Kalb & van Ours, 2014; Swanson, Vaughn, Wanzek, Petscher, Heckert, Cavanaugh, Kraft, & Tackett, 2011).

Reading to students in general, is missing in Malaysian schools. Most students go through primary schools or secondary schools without anyone reading to them. In a recent preliminary study on 54 18- to 19-year-olds, 37pc of them have never read any children stories in English. 33pc read one children story. Only 7.7pc of the respondents claimed that they read five children stories. Out of 54 students, three students read famous children tales like Ugly Duckling, and two read Little Red Riding Hood. This can be understood as English is learned as a second language, while others a foreign language.

In another study on 38 primary school teachers in Sabah, 81.6pc of them state that they use the prescribed text book to teach reading most of the times. This implies that students will rarely have a chance to read children tales in English if teachers do not introduce this genre or read to them in the classroom.

Reading aloud to someone is a shared reading experience between a child and a parent or guardian or teacher (Ledger & Merganser, 2018). Recent research has shown that reading aloud to children enhances children’s social-emotional development and sustains impacts on attention problems crucial for education and health (Mendelssohn et al., 2018).

Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA Test results in 2009 found that reading books to young primary students and talking with adolescents about books have a positive bearing on students’ learning (OECD, 2012). This shows that reading aloud is not just limited to young children.

Although reading aloud to is not a panacea, its benefit is enormous in terms of nurturing the literacy development of all students, including at-risk students. An analysis of 29 studies found that read-aloud interventions have significant effects on children’s language, their phonological awareness, print concepts, comprehension, and vocabulary suggesting that read-aloud interventions increase at-risk children’s literacy outcomes than children who do not take part in these interventions (Swanson et al. 2012). Reading to students helps develop students’ concept of print, story structure and the other elements of texts. It also enriches students’ information about the text. In a seminal report Becoming a Nation of Readers: The report of the Commission on Reading (1985), Anderson, Hebert, Scott and Wilkinson contend that:

The opportunities to read aloud and listen to others read aloud are features of the literate environment, whatever the reader’s level. There is no substitute for a teacher who reads children good stories. It whets the appetite of children for reading and provides a model of skilful oral reading. It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades (p. 51).

Teachers model the act of reading in the classroom has a flurry of benefits. Research has shown that teacher modelling in reading aloud practices has positively impact secondary students’ attitudes towards reading. Attitude refers to one’s “preference for a topic, subject, or activity” (Albright, 2000, p. 17). By modelling, it means teachers read dramatically using vivid expressions and expressive movements such as hand gestures and facial expressions. When teachers model reading behaviours particularly pronunciation, style, and intonation, it motivates students to read aloud and thereby improve their reading attitude. However, in Clark and Andreasen’s study (2014), the researchers found that the level of students’ engagement during teacher read aloud was inconsistent. Some students enjoyed the story, while the others did not. Some claimed that they enjoyed teacher reading aloud because the ambience was more relaxing than when teacher was teaching. These students felt that they were not asked to read so they were relieved, particularly students who were apathetic.

McGee and Schickedanz (2007) claim that unless books are shared with students involving them in asking and answering question, making predictions and inferences, reading aloud to students cannot increase students’ vocabularies and also their understanding (Dickinson, 2001). In other words, listening to stories passively is insufficient. Interaction with the teacher and peers after reading aloud can increase students’ vocabulary knowledge (Hargrave & Senechal, 2000). That means when students actively participate in dialogic and analytical thinking, reading aloud session becomes alive, paving the way for the growth of literacy development.

Bernadette Dwyer (2019), the past president of International Literacy Association says that, “lack of literacy [is] a problem we can no longer ignore.” Our students can’t learn to read by confining to ‘reading’ the English textbook in class. I echo the International Literacy Association’s Children’s Rights to Read initiative: ensuring equity, equality of opportunity, and social justice for all children. Whatever backgrounds our students come from, whatever ethnicities they are, or whatever their social circumstances they are, we are held responsible for our students’ right to read!

By: Jocelyn Lee.

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Cannot let go the love for reading

Monday, October 28th, 2019
Now what shall I tell you about today?  After my grumble about macaroni cheese in this column, I was asked to put my money where my mouth is and talk about it on Ben Uzair’s KK12FM show, Make it Happen.  It’s on today (Sunday) at 8 – 10 am, so I hope you enjoy my blathering! He’s a patient man!

I love radio.  It’s so much more fun than television. You can listen while you are doing something else.

You can listen anywhere, instead of being pinned to the sofa. And you can let your imagination fill in all the gaps. It’s like reading, which is why it’s not easy reading first and seeing all your characters look different on the screen.

The pitfalls of Feverfall

I do hope people enjoy reading as I struggle with my second book, Feverfall.  It is set in a strange island that might be Sabah might be Cambodia might be anywhere, and has people who have characteristics and traditions that might be vaguely recognisable, but it is a work of fiction and I am playing with all of it.

The heroine is half British, because that’s what I know, and half something else. There may or may not be a murder. Magic. A love affair. I’m enjoying myself, when I actually place myself upon the chair in front of the computer and get going.

But as usual I find myself a hundred distractions before I do that. I even go to the gym, so it must be bad! Then I have a shower and wash and dry my hair. 20 mins.
I check the watering of the plants – at least 15. I go through my emails and messages – oh goodie, there are plenty so that takes half an hour. I can be so creative, until there really is nothing left to do except write.

And the silly thing is, once I start, I’m in, and the story picks itself up and proceeds. I do enjoy it, but not enough to do what Somerset Maugham did (I am not assuming that my talent compares with his but I envy both that and his work ethic).

He would have breakfast, work till noon and then have the rest of the day to do whatever he liked at his Villa Mauresque in the South of France and elsewhere.  You have to just push yourself to start, and then off you go.

Look – today I’m writing this column. Much more manageable – the final full stop is visible.

My novel’s is hidden in the swirling mists of the future.


What have you been reading? I have just finished a very odd autobiography of Anne Glenconner, a Lady in Waiting to Princess Margaret.

No idea why I started it but it was oddly gripping with its tales of her complicated, stylish and unpredictable husband (weeping loudly at the opera about missing someone, wearing a PVC suit in the Caribbean and refusing to take it off until he fainted with the heat), her demanding boss who she depicts as having a sense of humour and kindness, and it is heartbreaking as she tells of the loss of her two sons.

Before that I read the autobiography of Elton John, which is warts and all, and very funny, even in the depths of his drug-addled stardom.

And it has a happy ending.

Now what? There’s lots out there but I have become a lazy reader and unless I find something really tempting, I tend to lean towards Lee Child and Jack Reacher (oh, if only…).

Recently I have devoured Philip Pullman’s Book of Dust, Mary Beard’s Women and Power, and I am about to start Girl Woman Other, Bernadine Evaristo’s novel that won this year’s Booker Prize. I hope it’s worth the fanfare.

A familiar face

I went to the cinema the other day to see Gemini Man. It was better than the reviews had led me to believe.

I settled down to watch, winding a pashmina round my chilly shoulders and sticking earplugs in to try to reduce the noise (why do cinemas have to be so cold and so noisy???), and munched my way through a hot dog that was so delicious that it had to be bad for me.

Will Smith was Will Smith, the woman I had not heard of but liked (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, not the starriest of names, and there was a bald man who was Smith’s handler who looked a little familiar.

I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. He was convincing, and that was what mattered while I watched.

I checked the cast list at the end. Ralph Brown.  Of course he was familiar! I went to school with him!

He always wanted to be an actor, and I remember sewing him into his costume at the school play. He was very handsome then, and, now in his 60s, is rather less so – but the boy can act!

I checked on Wikipedia and learnt that:

As of October 22, 2019, Gemini Man has grossed $38.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $83.3 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $121.4 million.

It is estimated the film will need to gross around $275 million worldwide in order to break even.  Blimey – that’s an awful lot of money.  Hurry up and get to the cinema. Ralph’s gotta eat.

By: Syvia Howe.

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Newspapers give voice to the voiceless

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
Newspapers have been a great help in promoting social activism for the betterment of society in general, regardless of race, creed or colour.

I FOLLOWED with deep interest the discussion on print and social media at the recent forum in Shah Alam on ‘Survival of Print Media: Why go soft when you can go hard?’, organised by Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Mass Communications Alumni and UiTM Rembau’s Faculty of Communications and Media Studies (NST, Oct 20).

I have been an ardent fan of print journalism ever since I picked up my first newspaper when I joined the workforce over 50 years ago. I am still happily addicted to this habit of reading the newspaper and cannot remember starting my day without reading at least three newspapers in three languages.

The newspapers have been my daily diet of views, reviews, alerts, advertisements, obituaries, comics and Lat cartoons when they used to appear regularly in the New Straits Times.

Sure, nowadays I also follow the new kid on the block, the electronic media, but it is on the old warhorse and the tabloid newspaper that I rely on for my daily serving of all the news that is fit to print.

There are many reasons for my addiction. The print media is always accountable for what they print. And because of that they are careful to separate fact from opinion.

There are several layers of checks for accuracy, style and credibility employed by reporters, news editors, sub-editors and production editors.

These checks ensure that the news that is printed and read the next day had undergone rigorous checks for veracity and accuracy.

And therefore it was news worthy of print. There was hence no way that mere gossip or fake news could be passed off as genuine.

Even when the newspapers publish editorials or opinion pieces, the journalists are careful to give two sides of the coin, and if there is a third side, to give that side too. That’s how trust was built and nurtured.

Newspapers cater to a cross-section of the community or society. And so there is a sense of balance in the selection of news for print. There is always something for everybody — the baby boomers, the millennials, the Gen X and Gen Z.

And probably one of the most important considerations that I found commendable was the self-restraint that the editors exhibited when it came to publishing racially or morally sensitive issues.

These issues, whenever they arose, were often couched in non-emotive language. And there was seldom a reference to a person’s race unless it was germane to the story in question.

While newspapers gave space and coverage to largely current issues, they also championed non-sensational causes like poverty eradication, social mobility and the plight of the underdog. They gave voice to the voiceless.

The best part is that newspapers are held accountable every day. And journalists are an open book. Their work is available for all to see, to savour or to criticise. Unlike other professionals, their mistakes are there for all to see.

For me personally, newspapers have been a great help in promoting social activism for the betterment of society in general, regardless of race, creed or colour.

Newspapers have also provided me with valuable feedback and insights that have helped in the work of non-governmental organisations that I have been involved in, especially in the fields of industrial safety and health, crime prevention, animal welfare and volunteerism.

I am sure the day will never come when newspapers do not become recorders of history but are relegated to the dustbin of history.

I salute all the journalists, past and present, the editors, the sub- editors, the production workers and the advertising and management teams of the English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil press, and wish them all the best and hope never to see the back end of a front page.

There is no denying that newspapers can contribute to a reading culture which needs to be promoted. We must therefore do our utmost to save and sustain the print media which, for a ringgit or two, brings the world to our doorstep.

But who can save it? Ultimately it is the people who can and must. The print media can help foster an informed community and nation that is so essential for a vibrant democracy.

The people must therefore continue to buy, read and share newspapers.


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Book translation critical to knowledge transfer

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019
Jan Gehl, renowned architect and author of ‘Cities for People’, congratulating Universiti Malaya Press for the launch of the translation of the book through pre-recorded video.
By Rozana Sani - October 2, 2019 @ 1:40pm

TRANSLATION of works from foreign languages into Bahasa Malaysia is key in knowledge transfer efforts, especially in academia.

Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim said in the pursuit of national development, it was impossible to produce adequate resources and material, whether academia or general in nature, in a speedy manner.

Speaking at the launch of the translated work of renowned architect and author Jan Gehl, Cities for People, into Bahasa Malaysia by the University of Malaya Press (UMP), he said UMP’s commitment to adhere to the highest standards in academic publishing and its duty of disseminating the work of researchers and specialists to the general public was commendable and necessary.

Referring to its role in publishing, Abdul Rahim said: “Besides its apparent focus on academic works, UMP’s interests are also in publications that contribute to the understanding of issues that affect the local and international community.

“It also seeks to champion the arts and the environment through its publications,” he said, adding that such efforts will continue to be a priority for the university and UMP.

The launch of the book was officiated by UM pro-chancellor Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong.

Gehl is an architect from Copenhagen, Denmark, and a former professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts who studied the architectural design structure of cities for more than 50 years.

Cities for People had been translated into 38 languages in the last nine years. The book, titled Bandar Mesra Manusia in Bahasa Malaysia, presents an approach to creating a human-friendly city and it also explains the methods and tools used to reconfigure the city scene.

During the ceremony, Gehl congratulated UMP for the launch of the translated book via a pre-recorded video.

In a separate interview, UMP director Adam Wong Abdullah said UMP, the oldest university press in Malaysia, which was founded in 1954, publishes a mix of about 40 Bahasa Malaysia and English language titles a year.

It has a backlist of more than 1000 titles, most of which are available in physical or electronic form locally and internationally. Since 2012, it has amassed 18 publishing awards.

“Although it is seldom articulated, UMP plays an important role in the branding of the university. Our publications are scholarly communication that brings Universiti Malaya into the minds and hearts of academics, scholars and researchers as every book that is sold or ‘discovered’ reflects the excellence and commitment of the university,” said Adam.

He said titles selected for translation into Bahasa Malaysia must meet certain criteria.

“Not all our translation projects are academic in nature. The significance and impact of the work on local society is the main consideration. Questions, such as how will it help Malaysians understand the subject better, what will it contribute to the conservation of a particular matter, will a translation in Bahasa Malaysia enrich or cultivate more thinking, should be satisfactorily answered before we embark on these projects.”

He said translations were almost always costly affairs, and being a university press, UMP needed to work very strictly with available funds.

“We draw our translators from within the university or other academic institutions. For academic works, those assigned are required to be experts in the same field. A language editor is then assigned to look into the readability of the translation,” Adam said.

In the 1970s, he said UMP translated and published, in what was probably the first of its kind, Shakespeare’s plays into Bahasa Malaysia.

In recent years, it has endeavoured to translate and publish important works in areas of public interest or specialisation. Among the books published are: Panduan Penjagaan dan Pengunaan Haiwan Makmal, translated from the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. This is a compulsory reference for institutions that do research involving lab animals.

Buku Panduan Galas Datar, translated from Handbook of Plain Bearings, a technical book for automotive students

“Bandar Mesra Manusia, translated from Cities for People, is regarded the guide on town planning,” said Adam.

Some translations in the pipeline include Creative Dance, a source for teaching dance to children, and two other publications from Spanish to Malay.

By Rozana Sani.

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Which is the best way to read?

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
Courses at universities use both printed and digital reading materials.

JUST about everything nowadays is going digital. When it comes to electronic books (or e-books), however, there has been a lot of discussion and debate on their usefulness and relevance.

The printed form has notable, good qualities including being easier on the eyes and less distracting.

But the benefits of e-books are aplenty, such as being lightweight and flexible and interactive. And they can be read in the dark.

Law student Adnan Yunus, 20, from Inti International University, said his course utilises both printed and digital reading materials.

“Students here usually use reading materials adapted from notes that have been prepared by lecturers. The primary material that students and lecturers still rely on are hard copy textbooks. However, we are also encouraged to undertake extensive research online.”

Nurul Nabilah Sulaiman, 24, a quantity surveying undergraduate from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), said: “Our lecturers provide materials online. We are also encouraged to read books so that we can get the bigger picture of what the topic is all about.

“There were one or two classes which required us to purchase reference books,” said Nurul.

Do students read texts on-screen as effectively as they do on paper? Can students learn better from one type of reading material compared to the other?

HigherED spoke to students and lecturers from various fields to get their views.


IIUM Psychology student Rayhana Talib, 23, said that students in her course are expected to purchase printed textbooks which are usually also available in digital form.

The fourth-year student said: “In class, I prefer digital books because of easy access through devices. Plus, you don’t have to carry heavy textbooks to classes.”

“From experience and research, I find that digital resources allow one to skim over information very quickly, which is extremely helpful and complements conventional lectures and classes.

“With e-books, I save on paper and money. Some students also feel that physical textbooks are expensive and I agree that this is one downside. But a visit to the library never hurts. I have been doing so throughout the course of my studies,” said Rayhana.

Muhammad Haziq Shaharuddin, 20, a dentistry undergraduate from Universiti Malaya, said that his lecturers provide online reading materials and he prefers going digital.

“Lecture notes can be accessed through Spectrum, our university’s online learning management system. For additional reading, lecturers will recommend textbooks which we can buy in printed or digital form.

“Digital materials have definitely helped me learn and understand my lessons better compared to printed books. Instead of just reading through long text and pictures, I learn through videos and interactive notes as well. This makes learning much more interesting,” said the first-year student.

Muhammad Haziq added that it is also easier to take notes during lecturers and classes using a digital device.

“I use a stylus pen and an app called Notability for highlighting and jotting down notes. The app allows me to open two files simultaneously on a screen which is useful when I want to write my notes while referring to an e-book.

“My digital notes are a lot more organised and colourful compared to ones written on paper. The fact that I can zoom in and out of the screen helps me a lot”.

The first-year dentistry undergraduate added that it is more convenient, saying: “Every morning I just pack my device in my bag and I’m good to go. There’s no need for me to bring thick and heavy books or files to class when I have everything that I need on my iPad.”

Michelle Lim Ke Wei, 22, who studies at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, does not encounter problems studying using e-books.

“I highlight my notes on my iPad and it is very convenient. Normally, I will download the notes from Google Classroom or from a website journal and save it in PDF format.

“Printed books usually do not include the latest news on certain topics of discussion. Hence, I go for digital resources to help me better understand certain issues in my studies.”

Michelle Lim Ke Wei enjoys reading e-books and taking notes with her iPad.


However, there are also many students who find reading printed materials and books as being a much better option for learning and studying.

Both Adnan and Nurul Nabilah said that they prefer reading printed books.

“I find that I am able to absorb information better when they come from printed materials,” said Adnan.

“I also find that hardcopy books are more convenient compared to digital resources. Reading on-screen can be problemetic when they is lagging issues that happens from time to time when using a digital platform or device,” added Nurul Nabilah.

Ethan Wong Hsien Aun, 20 from Monash University Malaysia, agrees that physical books help him learn more effectively.

“The conventional pencil-and-paper approach to taking down notes allows me to retain and recall information better.

“By physically writing, I can make sense of my notes. I can draw mind maps and I connect pieces of information together faster,” said Wong, a tropical environmental biology undergraduate.

Wong added that he may use e-books during lectures but he does not do so when it comes to doing revisions.

“I normally transfer the e-notes onto paper by writing them all out as preparation for examinations.”

“I try to reduce my dependence on reading digitally because it can be glaring and it makes me susceptible to slacking off as I may scroll through social media. The sound of a notification can also rob my attention and disrupt my focus,” said the third year undergraduate, who added that he would put away his laptop and other devices when carrying out revisions.

For Adnan, he needs to internalise information that he has learnt, as it is not just about retaining them. This is why he prefers physical books.

“The best way to remember a subject matter is to create and draft out our own notes on a piece of paper or by using mobile devices. This allows us to identify important points and to critically analyse and decipher what is important.

“With on-screen reading, I rarely find the right source on a subject immediately. It is important for students to know what they are looking for. With physical books, the sources of information are more specific,” he said.

Adnan said that although a vast amount of content exist on digital platforms, it can easily cause him to lose concentration.

“Personally, reading on-screen is a challenge because my attention and focus are constantly disrupted.”

Adnan added: “I often go through research databases to gain additional information which is important when studying for exams.

“Searching for information online can be tough as it is mentally exhausting and there is endless amount of information to sift through.

“For me, reading from a physical textbook or journal for a couple of hours is more manageable. I find that I am able to retain information better this way,” he said.

For Nurul Nabilah, reading physical books leads to a better understanding. “I am able to take down notes and scribble, especially the parts which I do not understand. Later, I can refer to my lecturers or friends who can help me.”

Despite preferring e-books for in-class references, Rayhana still relies on physical books for revision.

“In understanding what is learnt, they are a much better option. They have fewer distractions — as people tend to multitask when on their devices — and it is easier to read and comprehend information when you can flip through pages.

“When preparing for exams, there are a lot of materials to read. So, if I rely on digital resources, it will take a considerably longer time to finish reading and comprehending it all. I would also need time for my eyes to rest and recover from the glare of the screen,” said Rayhana.

Muhammad Haziq, meanwhile, uses the iPad to access e-books when preparing for exams.

“The iPad helps me study faster. Whenever I need to search for something, instead of flipping through the pages, the search bar leads me to the exact page or content. I use this tool a lot and this helps me save time.”

However, he admitted that there are distractions. “Sometimes I do take a break to watch Youtube videos or play games,” he admitted.


Dihlvinder Kaur Gill, an INTI International University Law lecturer, said that using e-books is a positive step forward.

“When used simultaneously, online and printed resources provide students with a versatile learning experience. Interactive materials serve to enhance the students’ understanding by reinforcing concepts through a visual manner and encourages active learning.

“I usually assign additional reading materials which include case studies in both printed and digital formats,” said the senior lecturer.

Associate Professor Dr.Tan Chee Pin, Mechatronics Engineering programme head at Monash University, said that digital materials provide a more thorough form of guidance.

“Students are able to see and piece relevant concepts together more easily, as opposed to having the facts displayed all at once.

However, Tan personally prefers printed books. “There is a great advantage to having physical books — it feels more natural and it is easier to annotate and manipulate. It is more engaging to have something physical, especially if the topic is deep and requires a lot of abstract thinking.”

Associate professor Dr Firdaus Hariri, the deputy dean of UM’s Dentistry Faculty, said: “People today want everything to be at their fingertips. I think most institutions are moving towards e-books and e-learning.

“Subjects such as Anatomy are now being taught via virtual reality. Students can have immediate access to digital resources during discussions and clinical sessions.”

Dr Roziha Che Haron, a quantity surveying lecturer at IIUM, said that she prefers students to use and refer to printed materials for certain subjects.

“For instance, in principles of measurement, students need to be equipped with the Malaysian Standard Method of Measurement (SMM).

“But there is a need to adopt various techniques to better teach the younger generation. E-books make them adept at understanding subjects better,” Roziha pointed out.

Pamilia Lourdunathan Andrew, a psychology lecturer at IIUM, said: “Digital books are more appealing as they can be accessed while waiting for public transportation or during train rides.

Printed books are still preferred by students.

However, Pamilia highlighted that printed books are equally important.

“For example, dated books from founders of psychology theories are vital for learning, and not all of these are readily available online,” said Pamilia.

Associate Professor Dr. Dorothy Dewitt, from UM’s Education Faculty, said that e-books can enhance students’ learning experience.

“With digital resources, you can utilise both audio and visual channels. If students just read and read, they won’t remember what they are supposed to learn,” said Dewitt.

She cited Allan Paivio’s dual-coding theory, which claims that people learn better when they utilise two channels at the same time.

Dewitt added: “By using a device to read, you can synthesise information and write as you read which makes it very useful. And when you click on a certain hyperlink, you will find further resources.

“Looking at research and our students, most of them, especially the undergraduates, prefer the online version. But some older students who are doing their masters and PhD still prefer hard copy books.”

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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