ASSOC PROF DR ZAINAL ABIDIN AHMAD obtained his PhD in Counselling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States. He worked as an academician at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for 26 years before serving OUM for the past eight years. Currently, he is a consultant at the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When one has a poor grasp of English, one is handicapped in comprehending an entire module. Reading the module becomes an unbearable chore. No matter how helpful a tutor tries to be in facilitating a class discussion based on the module, the student will still not be able to understand the concepts being addressed, let alone participate in the discussion.
On the other hand, students who scored a four-flat CGPA reported that they read and understood their modules from cover to cover before sitting for examinations. In fact, some even said, "I'll never sit for my examinations until and unless I have read my modules at least three times."
Another characteristic of the successful students is that they often study in groups. By studying in small groups of two to five, they get to discuss the subject matter more realistically and meaningfully. I suspect even those who had problems in understanding modules in English would benefit. Those who are highly motivated will try this technique. Furthermore, the dynamics of the group will work for them because of the comradeship.
Secondly, tutors need to have the patience to help students understand a subject matter as clearly as possible. In the process, we hope to humanise the classroom without making our students feel silly.
Finally, our tutors should be sincere in wanting our students to succeed in their studies. It is a big decision for our students to change course from being totally full-time breadwinners and family persons to being students again. Empathising with that would make us realise that a little bit of tutoring help could change the lives of many aspiring adults.