Tuesday, 27 December 2011



Roberta is 12 years old. She has a brother named Peter and a younger sister named Phyllis.She is fondly known as Bobbie in this novel. She is the eldest of the three. One of her characters is, she is a very persistent person.She doesn't easily throw in the towel when the odds seem to be against her.

There are many incidences in the novel where we can see her persistence. For example, in chapter 3 (page 17 - paragraph 5 - lines 1-3),we can see how determined she was in getting the things necessary for her mother's recovery when her mother was ill. Her persistence paid off when the old gentleman gave the things needed for her mother's recovery.

In chapter 6 (page 38 - read the whole page), Perks was not happy with people giving him presents.He was worried that people would laugh and make fun of him.Bobbie persistently reasoned with Perks about the good intentions of the village people giving him the presents until he relented and accepted the gifts.Finally, Perks celebrated his birthday with a happy note.

In chapter 7 (pg 42 - the whole page), she did not give up in finding a way to help secure her father's release from prison. She was persistent even when her mother had given up. She secretly wrote a letter to her friend the old gentleman asking for his help to clear her father's name.In the end her father was released from prison.

*Brave - Chapter 5, Chapter 7, Chapter 8 
*Kindhearted - Chapter 4, Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 8
*Responsible - Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5 

*Moral - we must not easily give up when things seem impossible. We must keep trying by finding means and ways to make the impossible possible like Roberta.


Peter is Roberta's brother. He is the second child in the family.  Peter is a very brave and smart young chap. He wants to be an engineer when he grows up. He has a knack for railway engines. He was overjoyed when his father gave him a steam engine for his birthday.
One distinct character of Peter is sharp-witted (intelligent).In Chapter 5 (p29 - p4 - lines 1-3), It was he who gave the idea of using something red in colour to wave and stop the train from meeting a certain disaster.He cut his sisters' red petticoats into six pieces and put them on to sticks.Peter together with his sisters waved at the coming train until it stopped.
In Chapter 6 (pg 36 - p1 - lines 1-3), Peter was honest in giving the idea of asking the village people to give gifts for Perk's birthday.He told his mother about their true intention of giving Perks the presents.Many people gave gifts for Perks birthday party.
In Chapter 2 (pg 12 - p 3 - lines 1-3), we can see the daring side of Peter. He was daring enough to steal coal from the railway station at night but he did it ignorantly. Peter innocently thought it was alright to take some coal from the station.
In Chapter 8 (p46 - p1 - lines 1-4 / pg 47 - p2 - lines 1-4), we can see how brave Peter was in searching for the boy in the red shirt in the dark tunnel.He was shaking in fear but still he continued the search for the boy with his sisters.

Phyllis is the youngest child in the family.  She is the cutest of the three.She is quite a bubbly character. She is very naive and insecure.She is also very sensitive but easily forgiving.
In Chapter 5 (p29,30 & 31), we can see the brave side of Phyllis. She together with her elder sister and brother managed to stop the train from meeting with a terrible accident.
In Chapter 1 (p7 - p1 - last line), Phyllis felt very insecure when they moved in to their new house at the countyside. 
While in Chapter 6 (pg 38 - p1&2),Phyllis became very sensitive when Perks refused to accept the gifts the children had brought to him. She was so hurt by Perks's words that she started to cry.
In Chapter 4,5,6 and 8 we can see how loving, caring and helpful Phyllis is.


Mother is a homely type.We can read this in Chapter 1 (page 1 - paragraph 2 - lines 1-3). She spends most of her time at home, playing with the children or reading stories to them.Usually she read the stories she wrote to them.She is a very protective woman. She protected her children from worrying or feeling sad about their father. She did this by not telling them what actually had happened to their father. She also told them that they need to play being poor for a while in order not to cause more anxiety on them.
In chapter 2 (p12 - pg 1 - lines 2-3), we can see how resourceful she is. Mother wrote stories and sold them to put some food on the table.
In chapter 4 (p21 - pg 3 - lines 1-3), we can see that Mother is a very proud person. Although they were poor, she strongly discourages her children from telling people that they are poor and asking strangers to help them.
She is also a very caring and loving Mother.In Chapter 1 (p1 - p2 - lines 1-3), Mother was always ready to play with her chlidren. She also read stories to them.
Whereas in Chapter 9 ( p53 - p1 - lines 2-4), she taught her children their lessons as they have stopped going to school for some time now.
In Chapter 8 (p50 - p1 - lines 8-9) , she took in the injured boy into her house and nursed him to health.

The children's father worked in a government ofiice. He was a civil servant. He was an honest and hardworking man. He was wrongly accused of being a Russian spy and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
In Chapter 1 (pg 1 - p 3 - lines 2-4),we can see how tolerant and wonderful he is. He never gets angry at the children nor at his wife. The children love their father very much for he is always happy and ready to play games with them.
In Chapter 1 (pg 3 - p1 - lines 1-3), when Peter showed him his broken steam engine, father looked at it carefully and smilingly told Peter that there is hope (optimistic) that his steam engine could be repaired.He is also a grateful man.
In Chapter 9 (pg 57 - "Yes',said Father.'It's him I must thank.'). Father was grateful for his release and wanted to thank the old gentleman for helping him to clear his name and secure his release from prison. 
A Railway Porter
Friendly, Proud, Hardworking, Reasonable, Responsible
Friendly, Helpful, Kind, Resourceful

Other Related Posts :-

Novel Sypnosis
Novel Theme

Monday, 28 November 2011


There are 3 types of settings in this novel :-
Place, Social, Cultural


House in London
The cottage in the country side
The railway station
The railway tunnel
The village


Edwardian Type of Clothes
Coal used for steam engine trains 


Having tea
High hats and long coats

Other Related Posts :-

Novel Moral Values

*Source :- CDD - Ministry of Education (2011)
*Acknowledgement :- These teaching modules were developed and compiled with the help of a group of dedicated teachers from various schools all over the country. 


Roberta(Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis lived in a comfortable home in London. Their father was a civil servant while their mother was a housewife.Their parents were wonderful and kind people. They also had a maid to do the house work.

One day, two gentlemen came to the house to see their father. Soon after, he followed them out.He was taken to prison. He was accused of being a Russian spy. The children did not know why their father left with the two men but their mother knew. She kept it to herself and did not tell the children.

Soon, they had to move to a modest cottage in the Yorkshire countryside. The cottage was situated near a railway station. The children's life revolved around the passing trains, workers at the station and the towns people.

Their mother wrote some stories to earn some money to buy food and for other necessities. It was hard at first to be poor but they soon learned to live with the little they had.

They learned not to steal coal from the railway station even if they have so little coal to keep warm. Their life was full of adventures. For instance, they managed to stop a train when a landslide covered the tracks. They found the injured boy (hound) in the train tunnel and managed to get help for him.

They liked to wave at passing trains. In time they made many new friends and forged a special friendship with one old gentleman in particular. The old gentleman gets to know them and helps them in various ways.

He becomes instrumental in the release of their father from prison.Finally, one day their father returns home and everybody is happy that now they are together again.

Other Related Posts :-

Novel Theme
Novel Characters
Novel Settings

Novel Moral Values

Monday, 14 November 2011


To write a cool attention grabbing narrative essay needs the right spices, just like cooking a curry masala. The first thing about writing narrative essay is creative imagination. You need to be creative and different. Think out of the box and let loose your imagination. See it through like a movie plot before you write down on your paper.

Read The Question Carefully

In SPM public examination, the question for narrative type of essay either starts with " Write a story beginning with: " or " Write a story ending with: ". In the year 2010 it was "Beginning", so there is a big chance this year 2011 it would be "Ending".

For example, if the question says "Write a story beginning with: It had been raining all day", then you start your essay with the given phrase.The same goes for question which has "Ending with", you write the phrase at the ending of your essay. I prefer the "Beginning" type because it gives you more freedom to create your plot.

Draft Your Plot

For narrative essay use the [PLOT] technique instead of using the [Intro-Body-Conclusion] technique. Draft your plot carefully. Put in some twists and turns in your story. Have an element of surprise. Keep your readers glued to their seat. Build your story scene by scene like in a movie. Give a big impact in your climax scene and let the audience make the conclusion....that would surely cause them to have some sleepless nights itching to know the end......(surprise--surprise)

Literary Devices

Use Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs, Idioms, Contrast, Flashback, Imagery etc to tell your story. This technique will help readers to have a vivid picture in their mind. Every character or scene you tell can come alive to the readers and help them flow along with the story.

Grammar And Punctuation

Take care of your grammar, make sure to use the correct English Grammar when writing your essay. A strong grammar will help you to relate your story to your readers. Readers need to know what you are telling them. This is only impossible if you are able to use proper grammar and punctuation. Use your tenses properly when dealing with story telling. A story can start in the PRESENT TENSE flashback into the PAST TENSE and zoom into the FUTURE TENSE. There are also the PRESENT PERFECT AND PAST PERFECT tenses which you might need to use.

Creativity And Imagination

Be creative and arrange your story line carefully. Imagine that you are a director directing a movie. As a director you have a responsibilty to make sure your movie is a Box Office Hit. The same goes with your story, make sure it is one of a kind story, totally different from the rest of your friends essays. Sorry to say this but most of the essays are stale and does not have the extra edge which screams for attention.


You can use the 7P Essay Structure Tehnique to write a story.

  1. First Paragraph - Exposition (Beginning of your story) - 40-50 words
  2. Second,Third and Forth Paragraph - Events - 40-50 words
  3. Fifth Paragraph - Climax - 40-50 words
  4. Sixth Paragraph - Anti-Climax - 40-50 words
  5. Seventh Paragraph - Ending - 40-50 words


* Focus on one event / incident for every paragraph
* Don't write two or three events / incidences in one paragraph
* Try not to use the phrase "In conclusion" when you end your story.
* Make sure your Essay is more than 350 words, roughly 350-400 words
* Marks will be deducted if your essay is less than 350 words.

*Narrative - Beginning
*Narrative - Ending
*Narrative - Tips (1)

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Narrative essay involves story telling. You are actually telling a story in words. Telling a story by mouth is easy but telling it in a written form is totally a different story alltogether. In order to write a good narrative essay there are few things you need to know.So, in this post I have listed out some pointers for you on how you can write a better narrative essay for your school and public examinations.

We will use the 1+1=2 method. "1+1=2" MEANS "creative imagination + lietarary Devices = Originality". This is my own cooked up class room formula to help my weak and not so weak students to use their mind creatively. [ If by chance, anybody else out there is using the same method then please excuse me...for this is trully my own cooked up home recipe].

What You Need......

  1. Creative and an imaginative mind. You need to be bold to tell your story in the utmost creative and imaginative manner. Don't worry if people think that it's way too weird or it doesn't make sense. Just let your creative juice flow freely from your mind to your writing pad. Experiment and keep on experimenting until you find the right rhythm or your own style of writing.
  2. Literary Devices. Use literary devices to give to your story.Literary devices have the capability to give depth to your charactes and your story. It can make the readers see,feel,smell,touch and taste your story. Therefore, learning how to use them effectively in your essay will give you an added advantage.
  3. Story Plot. You need a plot to tell your story.So, draft your plot first before you write your essay. A plot starts with - [ Exposition - Conflict - Climax - Anti-Climax - Resolution ].
There you have it, simple and yet effective method to write a good narrative essay for your public examinations.Let me guess, your next question will be, "How to write it....?" right? I will tell you on my my next post when time permits...ALL THE BEST IN YOUR EXAMS!

Monday, 7 November 2011


Why I can't write good English Essay for my PMR or SPM or any kind of English Essay writing exams? This is a very famous question asked by many local and foreign students, especially those who take English as their Second Language Studies.Be at peace, nobody is a born writer. You need to put a lot of hard work and time if you want to be a good writer.

Do you want to know how you can improve your English Essay Writing? In this post, I would like to share some of the methods I teach my students on how to improve their essay writing.The methods mentioned below are age old methods which are being used around the world by many teachers.

Pointer 1- Read some good English Novels 
Read as many books as you can. Read some good English novels. Observe how the writer uses different techniques and styles to tell the story. Good novel writers usually like to use simple and straightforward language. They also like to use a variety of literary devices to make their novel come to life. 

Pointer 2- Read Newspaper Articles
Read newspaper articles in your local English Dailies. For students sitting for SPM, read articles or news on family issues, health, accidents, sports, teenagers etc. Reading these articles can help to improve your vocabulary list and your grammar.You can read articles from the 'STAR' newspaper ( for weak students ) or from the 'News Straits Time' ( for those who have a good command of English).
Pointer 3- Read Articles From Magazines
Read good English Magazines like the Newsweek, Times ,Readers Digest etc. This method I would only recommend to those who have a good command of English. Articles from the Readers Digest have been used in SPM examinations before.

Pointer 4- Copy Back Sample Essays

Find some short essay samples and copy them into a work book. Read slowly as you copy them. This method is very helpful for those who are weak in writing a simple English essay.
Pointer 5- Group Discussion
Form a group and discuss and exchange ideas on how you can write a good essay. It would be helpful if you can find an English teacher or your friend who is good in English to help with your writing. 

Pointer 6- Don't Memorize Essays For Exam

This is my secret to being a good writer. Never memorize an essay for your examaminations. Many students like to cram their head memorizing few essays for their PMR or SPM examinations and just simply write without giving thought to what is actually required. This method will not help you in the long run when later you are in the real world. In the real world you'll have problems to write even a simple letter if you keep on with this method.

The best way to write an essay is through the 5 methods which I have mentioned above and a lot of hard work goes with it.

Remember, you can't be a good writer in a day. You need to start from young to be able to write a good English Essay. It is never to late to start even if you are only in Form 4 or Form 5. Perseverance and hardwork will always bear fruit. It is better to get a 'CREDIT' for your own essay rather than getting a 'DISTINCTION' memorizing someone else's essay.

Monday, 31 October 2011


The Novel for Form 3 - PMR 2012 is called "The Railway Children" written by Edith Nesbit. It was made into a movie in the year 1970.You can watch this movie on youtube.Below is the plot summary.

The story concerns a family who move to a house near the railway after the father is falsely accused of selling state secrets to the Russians and imprisoned for five years. The three children, Roberta, Peter and Phyllis, find amusement in watching the trains on the nearby railway line and waving to the passengers.

They become friendly with Perks, the station porter, and with The Old Gentleman who regularly takes the 9.45 down train. He is eventually able to help prove their father's innocence, and the family is reunited.

The theme of an innocent man being falsely imprisoned for espionage and finally vindicated might have been influenced by the Dreyfus Affair, which was a prominent world-wide news item a few years before the book was written.  

*This novel is used in schools in 

Other Related Posts :-

Monday, 17 October 2011


2009 : Many of your schoolmates are not interested in sports. You have carried out a survey on the reasons for their lack of interest. Based on your findings, write a report to the Principal regarding the matter. In your report, give reasons for the lack of interest in sports and provide suggestions to overcome.

[ Start your report ]
To          : The Principal, SMK Syed Abu Bakar,Kedah
Subject : School students not interested in sports
Date      : (date)

[ Introduction ]
State about your survey.
When it was carried out.
The target audience [ School mates ]
What did you find. [ 30-40 words ]

[ Body 1 ]
Main Idea - The reason for the lack of interest
Supporting Details(1) - Why - Reasons / Factors
Supporting Details(2) - Why
Supporting Details(3) - How-Suggestion [ 30-50 words ]

[ Body 2 ]
Main Idea - The reason for the lack of interest
Supporting Details(1) - Why - Reasons / Factors
Supporting Details(2) - Why
Supporting Details(3) - How-Suggestion [ 30 -50 words ]

[ Body 3 ]
Main Idea - The reason for the lack of interest
Supporting Details(1) - Why - Reasons / Factors
Supproting Details(2) - Why
Supporting Details(3) - How-Suggestion [ 30-50 words ]

[ Closing ]
What do you expect
What is your hope for the students and school [ 30-40 words ]

[ End your report ]
Prepared By,

[ Signature ]
Title (if any)
SMK Syed Abu Bakar

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


In this post, I have posted some [sample  conclusions ] . Below are the  examples :-

Actual SPM examination question - Descriptive
2008  :  Write about a person who has worked hard to succeed in life.
Sample :
   In a nut shell, Mr.Adam cherished the saying 'No pain,no gain.' He always believed a man must be willing to endure hardship in order to enjoy success in life. Today, after 30 years of hardship he is the owner of a famous shopping comples in Penang. Mr.Adam is none other than my dear loving father.

Actual SPM examination question - Opinion / Arguementative

2009  : School children should nothave long holidays. Do you agree?

Sample :
In conclusion, school children definitely need long holidays. Long holidays will help them to unwind and relax from all the stress of school life.Long holidays will help rejuvenate their stressed out mind and be more receptive to studies when school reopens.

Actual SPM examination question - One Word
2009  : Beauty
Sample :

         Finally,beauty is an abstract matter which can’t be quantified by any measurement. How a person perceives beauty can differ from one person to the other. As the saying goes “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

* Remember, above are only simple sample conclusions to help those who are weak in English to get a rough idea on how to write a simple conclusion for their essay.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


SPM Question 2007

Talk : You have been asked by your teacher to give a talk on a reference book that is useful for secondary students. You have decided to give a talk about a science book.

[ Introduction / Salutation ]

Good morning to the principal, teachers, and fellow students. I am honoured to stand here to give a speech / talk. My speech / talk  is entitled the usefulness of a reference book for secondary students. [ 30-40 words ]

[ Body 1 ]

Main Idea – What type of reference book you have choosen. [ Use Suitable Transitions]

Supporting Details(1)-What/Which [ Title Of The] Science Book

Supporting Details(2)-Why you choose this [ particular ] book

Closing Paragraph – Summarize your point. [ 40-50 words]

[ Body 2 ]

Main Idea – How it can be useful for secondary students.  [ Use Suitable Transitions]

Supporting Details(1)-Benefit 1- What/Why/How

Supporting Details(2)-Benefit 2 – What/Why/How

Closing Paragraph – Summarize your point. [ 40-50 words]

[ Body 3 ]

Main Idea – How it can be used for reference.  [ Use Suitable Transitions]

Supporting Details(1)-Benefit 1- What/Why/How

Supporting Details(2)-Benefit 2 – What/Why/How

Closing Paragraph – Summarize your point. [ 40-50 words]

[ Closing / Conclusion ] – sample conclusions.

1. let me conclude my speech / talk with - [ a/an proverb/idiom/quote]

2.In conclusion - [ give an advice / hope ]

3. I will end my speech / talk by reinstating that - [ summary of your points ]
End it with - Thank you. [ 30-40 words ]