Tips to Study English Literature for SPM (part 1)


I would like to share some past experience in dealing with novels for Form 5. When literature was first introduced to Form 5 students in Malaysian schools, there were three different novels which have to be studied by students based on the regions divided by the government. They were The Pearl, The Return and The Jungle of Hope. On the first year, everybody (teachers and students) was so obedient. They studied what had been decided for them (I was in Johor then, and we studied The Jungle of Hope which was the most difficult and complicated among the three. It was very thick and hard to read because it was translated from BM) and chose to answer Section D in SPM English 1119 based on that particular novel. However, on the following year onwards we learned our lesson and started to play smart (of course after seeing what the question looked like). I believe that others around Malaysia also learned their lesson too. It was so obvious that The Pearl was the easiest to study since the plot is simpler and the language used is easier to be understood. Since then, teachers all over Malaysia started to teach The Pearl to their students who didn't seem to mind buying the text on their own (which means putting aside the other text provided by the SPBT).

What I am trying to say is that the situation is going to be the same this time around even with the new texts. Since the question allows us to choose one of the three novels (Step by Wicked Step, The Curse or Catch Us If You Can), why don't we figure out first which one is the easiest to be taught and studied in class before we start preparing for SPM. I have great respect for those who are very concerned about using creative approaches in teaching literature (musical theater as done by Ms. Hafeezah Sulong or her Cast Name Adreena Aleeyza Adli, a teacher from SMK Permas Jaya 3, Masai Johor is a very good example). However, being me, I am far more interested in helping students to perform in their SPM. Understanding the story doesn't mean that one would be able to write proper answer in exam.  You must know the correct technique before you could write an aswer that will confirm with the highest band possible. At the end of the day, it is your A that would make a difference (if you aim to get 5As, by confirming an A for English you would only have to work for another four...)

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