By FARIK ZOLKEPLI firstname.lastname@example.org
BESUT: The desire to understand her favourite television series Gossip Girl without needing to read the Bahasa Malaysia subtitles inspired Nor Qistina Mohamed to sign up for free English lessons at a mosque in Seberang Jertih.
Barely a month later, the 13-year-old secondary school lass can converse in English confidently despite a few grammatical errors.
“I realised that a good command of English is important when I go to work next time,” Nor Qistina said.
“Previously, I was ashamed to speak in English, especially when tourists asked me for directions.
“Now, all that has changed.
“The class really helped improve my confidence. I learned English in a relaxed and fun manner, unlike in school. That is most important.”
Her cousin Nurul Hurin Ahmad Zaki, 14, said she too found the confidence to speak English now.
“The most important thing is to try. My friends at school initially made fun of me whenever I spoke English. Not anymore.”
The cousins were among 54 students who attend the free English lessons at the Ulul Albab Mosque on Friday nights.
Volunteer teacher Datin Seri Che Kamariah Zakaria, who is the wife of Mara chairman Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, said she wanted to create a relaxed and fun atmosphere at the one-hour lessons.
“I focus mostly on interpersonal communication. I encourage the students to talk to each other in English – in simple but effective sentences.”
Mosque chairman Ayob Jusoh said the idea came from Che Kamariah.
“And we wanted to make the mosque a centre of activity, not just for the older generation but for the youngsters, too,” he said.