Cambridge IGCSE Foreign Language Malay is designed for learners who are learning Malay as a foreign language. The aim is to develop an ability to use the language effectively for practical communication. The course is based on the linked language skills of listening, reading, speaking and writing, and these are built on as learners progress through their studies.
The syllabus also aims to offer insights into the culture and civilisation of Malaysia, thus encouraging positive attitudes towards language learning and towards speakers of foreign languages.
What do you enjoy about the subject?
Leo: I think the subject itself, the language itself is the part that I enjoy most because it’s a source of pride for me- to be able to learn our national language.
Kelly: I guess for me the best thing about the subject is the teachers and the atmosphere you experience in class. Especially just learning about Malay- it’s pretty nice.
What is the most challenging thing about the subject?
Kelly: The most challenging thing about the subject to me is definitely getting the right points for the karangan. Even though your Malay may be essentially extremely good, there’s still always a specific mark scheme that you have to hit in order to get full marks for the karangan, so I guess it’s one of the difficulties to me.
Leo: For me, I think the difficulty was more towards the objective questions because when you’re doing that question you sometimes have to be really careful so you don’t slip up and give the wrong answer. And I think sometimes I get a bit ahead of myself and give the wrong answer.
Was there anything in the subject that was different from your initial expectations? What were the main changes from year 9?
Leo: What was different from my initial expectation was probably the karangan part of it because when I came to Tenby I didn’t really expect to have to do a lot of writing in Malay, especially because I went through six years of it in primary school. But it’s a welcome surprise.
Kelly: For me, the different expectation was mostly that it wasn’t as hard as it seemed. I really thought Malay was going to get extremely difficult, but if you think about if from a different spectrum- if you practice it a lot and you’ve learnt it prior to IGCSE’s it’s actually not as bad as you think.
What I expected to be a lot easier than what I’m used to, because as an original UPSR kid, whenever we did pemehaman- which is reading the text and answering the questions- I expected it to be extremely difficult, but it’s actually not. It’s actually very straightforward, simple- but you really have to read it to get it, and try and be as careful as you can.
What do lessons look like?
Kelly: In my memory, lessons mostly were- especially if you’re in the higher set- lessons were mostly just writing a lot of karangans, doing past year papers, maybe learning a bit more than just Malay. In terms of collaboration, in some Malay classes, you really do a lot of posters with your peers, and your classmates, and all that kind of thing so it’s really a lot of collaboration in Malay.
Leo: I think for me it was mostly we did just worksheets printed out by the teachers but we also did a fair bit of karangan just to make sure that we don’t forget anything before we head into the exams. And we certainly did do a lot of poster work and also fun activities- we had a QR code treasure hunt in one class- which was very fun.
During the QR code treasure hunt, we went through the QR codes which would give us a question and we would write down our answers for that question. Then at the end of it, the group that finished first with the most correct answers would win.
How much homework or independent study will I be doing in a week in this subject?
Kelly: In my experience, I guess it goes to show for all subjects we definitely have to independently study by yourself if you want to succeed. In terms of Malay, I think you yourself have to gauge how good your Malay is and how much practice you need. If you’re particularly weak student, I definitely recommend to do a little bit more work than all the other subjects and especially because Malay is a compulsory subject- if you’re Malaysian- it’s really hard to just drop it like a rock in the middle of nowhere. But if you’re particularly good at Malay- in my opinion- you don’t particularly have to independently self study as much as you think you may need to.
Leo: I think for me, we didn’t really get a lot of homework because a lot of it was classwork-based but we did get a lot of long-term projects which we had to complete. But independent study, I guess the point goes to say, that you have to understand what level you’re at and you really have to be able to take the initiative to self study if you’re not as good.
So when we were in year 10, my teacher- Miss Amalina, gave us a science project- a “sciencey project” (not really science project). It was to do with innovation and then we had to build a working model from recyclables and present it to the class in Malay which really helped develop our presentation skills and also helped us get used to improvising on speaking.
What are the skills or knowledge you can develop in this subject and why are they useful?
Leo: I guess one of the skills you develop in this subject is the ability to really understand Malaysian culture because I believe a country’s language is very important to understanding its culture. And especially if you are Malaysian you should strive to be able to speak Malay and to understand our culture.
Kelly: For me, one of the best things about Malay is that like any other language in the world, it has such a value to it- like Leo said- in terms of cultural values and all these kind of political values. So I think that one of the best things Malay can give you is being able to order food in a mamak store- so that’s my take on it. Any language has a practical use.
Leo: Especially if you live in a Malay area and play futsal with two Malay kids. It’s very, very useful.
Do you have any tips for new BM students?
Kelly: Don’t panic. That’s it.
Leo: Yeah, I guess don’t stress yourself out too much but if you feel like you’re not doing as well as you would want to, you really have to take up the initiative on your own to perhaps go for additional classes, maybe stay back after class and ask questions, and do your own homework- do your own self studying.
How do you study for the subject?
Kelly: For languages in particular, I always think the best way to study for the subject is reading, watching movies, or writing it. So maybe that’s like the three key things, but that’s just the way I study. Every person has a different way of studying, so it’s really up to you and yourself to gauge and be independent about it.
Leo: I didn’t really study for IGCSE Malay, even up to the days leading up to the exam, because as I said, I did Malay for six years in primary school and lived in a majority Malay neighbourhood. And I guess what I did was really go out and talk to my friends and spend time with them, because true that I learnt a lot more about the Malay vocabulary than I would have sitting in front of my desk and doing past papers.
I think because I was in a fast-track set, there wasn’t really that many strugglers but whenever people were struggling what we would do is we would try and help each other and then if we could not find an answer or help that person we would ask the teacher and then finally use our independent resources to research.
Will taking any other subject help me be successful in this one?
Kelly: In terms of language, I don’t think you need to take any other subjects to be successful in the language. Really all it is, is how much you value understanding the language. So of course if you really value this language you obviously go the extra mile to understand it. And in my opinion, languages are extremely important. It’s a great way of like putting yourself out there as well, so yeah.
Leo: I think my opinion is the same as Kelly’s. I wouldn’t suggest taking up another subject, I would suggest using the language more. Try and use it more in daily life. For instance if you have an opportunity to speak Malay and make the other person comfortable, as it’s their natural language, go ahead and do it- even if you make mistakes. It’s better to make mistakes and correct it at the time than not realise you’re making the mistake and having to correct it too late.
Overview by Mr Veal
Describe your subject in 3 words
Fun, fantastic and fabulous.
What are the top 3 skills needed to be successful in your subject?
Read, write and speak the language.
How does your subject promote personal development?
It can be a value added for the student.
How does your subject promote professional development?
The person can be a translator, or can be a teacher.
What is the best thing about your subject?
The best thing is it’s a national language and it’s part of our identity.
Papers in IGCSE Malay
Paper 2: Reading
Approximately 33% of total mark.
Reading and answering comprehension questions.
Paper 3: Speaking
Approximately 15 minutes.
Approximately 33% of total mark.
Candidates complete two role plays, a topic presentation/conversation and a general conversation.
Paper 4: Writing
Approximately 33% of total mark.
Written essays in varying format.