By guest writer Muhammad Khalis bin Samion (18A01C)
Photos courtesy of Muhammad Khalis bin Samion
This article is the seventh part in Raffles Press’ series, Please Mind the Platform Gap: The Road Less Taken, about non-traditional A-level subjects offered in RI. For our previous feature on H2 CLL, please click here.
This article does not necessarily reflect the views of RI’s academic management and should not be used as a substitute for formal academic counselling.
Yang kurik itu kundi
Yang merah itu saga
Yang baik itu budi
Yang indah itu bahasa
For most of you, the ‘O’ Level Higher Malay examinations will probably be the last time you will ever have to deal with Malay. Who in their right mind would want to continue with two more years of Malay? You’d be surprised! You see, H2 Malay Language and Literature (MLL) has the highest intake of students across all three MTLL subjects (CLL, MLL and TLL) offered in RI! So, what is it like to continue studying Malay with MLL? What made the 9 of us in the Batch of ‘18 choose to offer this subject for the ‘A’ Levels?
Well, for starters, H2 MLL is a Humanities subject! For aspiring Science students, you can use this subject to fulfil the contrasting subject criterion in lieu of other subjects like History and Economics. However, you must first pass the ‘O’ Level Higher Malay exams to qualify for MLL. Failing the exams would mean you would have to take H1 Malay instead, and you cannot take H1 Malay and H2 MLL together (it does not work like that!).
H2 MLL typically has 4 blocks each week. The small class size means that there are no lectures at all, just tutorials. However, this may mean that you may have to stay in school until 5 pm on certain days in order to accommodate the varying schedules of different students. This means that if you are an Arts student, you get to enjoy a long refreshing break before class begins while waiting for your Science classmates to plow through their Science practical lessons!
As the name suggests, H2 MLL covers Literature in Malay. Specifically, the genres that are included in the syllabus are puisi (modern poetry), cerpen (short stories), plays and a novel. But that is only 50% of the subject. The other 50%, the ‘Language’ component of ‘Malay Language and Literature’, is basically what you would normally associate with General Paper, but in Malay – what with the essay, comprehensions and commentary. However, Mr Ali Hanifiah, our MLL teacher, devotes almost all lesson time for the literature component, only occasionally revisiting the language front, since the level of difficulty is actually comparable to ‘O’ Level Higher Malay and skills from General Paper can be applied in writing MLL essays.
Now, onto the scariest part – the assessments. At the ‘A’ Levels, H2 MLL comprises three papers:
PAPER 1 – Essay and Comprehension (2h 15 min)
PAPER 2 – Commentary (1h)
PAPER 3 – Literary Analysis (3h)
Papers 1 and 2 could be considered a re-run of the ‘O’ Levels Higher Malay exams, so there is nothing new in terms of content – however, in the revamped MLL syllabus, Paper 2 is an e-exam, so instead of writing your answers on paper, you type your answers into the computer. Both papers will be conducted on the same day.
Paper 3 therefore assesses the literature aspect of MLL. You will be required to answer 4 questions, each on a genre that had been stated earlier. By the way, language is not taken into account for this paper! As long as your ideas are intelligible to the markers, you will be credited regardless of any grammatical mistakes.
By now, you might be thinking: why does this writer, along with 8 other students, continue with this subject? This is because it is actually not difficult at all! In fact, it is one of the few classes where we all have much fun and laughter while learning. Zulhilmi from 18S07B quipped, “The class is a really nice class and that we have a lot of laughs and have a lot of good memories together!” Mr Ali, with his lighthearted nature and jokes, also helps to make MLL lessons fun.
On top of that, MLL offers valuable and useful life lessons. Texts covered during lessons contain messages and points of introspection that really makes you look back on your JC journey and change for the better.
Besides, you can also look forward to H3 MLL, which is part of the NUS-MOE HSSR Programme. On top of the common requirement of attaining a ‘B’ grade for MLL and attaining no less than a ‘C’ for all other subjects in order to offer H3 MLL, one should also be proficient in both Malay and English, which should not be an issue for most students. For H3, you are required to write a research paper on either of two main topics; for the 2017–2018 cycle, they are Language Issues in Contemporary Malay Society, or Singapore Malay Literature as Social Document since Independence.
For the former topic, candidates will do research on the various issues that are related to the Malay language, be it in Malaysia, Singapore or Brunei. Suggested topics include the use of English versus Malay or approaches to language learning in the various countries. For the latter topic, the research will be on selected works from post-independence Singaporean Malay literature that encapsulate the paradigm of Malay writers. By treating these works as social documents, the engagement (or disengagement) of the works with social issues that the Singaporean Malay community faced will be analysed, thus evaluating the importance of Malay literature in understanding the Malay community in Singapore.
Lastly, H2 MLL can help you through JC academically as well. Despite the many texts that one will have to remember, it pales in comparison to the other subjects that you have to juggle. Not to mention that most of the time, the tutorial homework you are going to get is merely reading through the texts that will be covered during tutorial, on top of the occasional essays. In fact, incoming Malay students can look forward to a briefing by our teacher during JIP, where they will learn that the simplicity of the subject will make it easier to attain the minimum 4 credit passes for promotion to J2.
To sum up, H2 MLL is for you if you are extremely passionate about the Malay language and if you are looking for a respite from the hectic pace of the JC curriculum and life. As our teacher always likes to say during lessons:
“At the end of the day, everything will be alright. If it is not alright, then it is not the end…”
For more information about the 2020 H2 MLL syllabus, visit the SEAB website at https://www.seab.gov.sg/docs/default-source/national-examinations/syllabus/alevel/2020syllabus/9573_y20_sy.pdf