Waiter’s winning ways

From the Star Online


e_03cert1.jpgTHOUGH armed with only a UPSR (Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah) certificate, Abdullah Omar’s passion for the English language has led him to realise his potential, and a step closer to his dream of becoming a successful businessman.

The 25-year-old from Kampung Telipot, Kelantan may have started out as a waiter in a restaurant in Petaling Jaya three years ago, but is now poised to obtain his diploma in business after becoming the top scorer for the ELS Certified Intensive English Programme.

“I completed Year Six at Sekolah Rendah Islam Aman in Kota Baru and later received informal education at a religious school (sekolah pondok) for eight years.”

It was by chance that one day, a professor (Dr M. Jayakaran) who was a regular customer at the eatery spoke to me about English and began encouraging me to learn the language to better myself,” he said after receiving his certificate from Dr Jayakaran, an associate professor from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) recently.

After much persuasion, Abdullah applied for the UPM-ELS Scholarship Scheme (now known as the Tun Dr Mahathir UPM-ELS Scholarship awards) in 2007 to pursue an intensive English course at the ELS Language Centre in Petaling Jaya.

Abdullah admitted that in the beginning, he had wanted to give up the course due to his poor command of the language.

Peer pressure was also a factor, as most of his friends had already left school.

“I remember skipping classes for a month and went into hiding in my hometown,””he said.

However, he persevered, and after a year of attending the course, he was awarded the highest marks or Band 9 in the ELS exams, which is the equivalent of a TOEFL score of 550.

Encouraged with this success, Abdullah decided to go for his next challenge of getting his SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) qualification the following year.

He passed all subjects with flying colours.

“I could not believe it that I would one day complete my formal education and get my SPM certificate,” he said.

On what he plans to do next, Abdullah said he would enrol in Kolej Politeknik Mara, Kota Baru to study for a Diploma in Business.

“Now I want to turn my attention towards fulfilling my dream of running my own business one day.

Meanwhile, more than 600 participants from 20 countries gathered at Equatorial Hotel Malacca for the International Conference On English Language Teaching (ICELT) recently.

Organised by UPM in collaboration with ELS Language Centres and Pearson, the two-day conference provided an avenue for teachers to exchange ideas with those associated with teaching English.

ICELT chairman Dr Jayakaran said that several comprehensive presentations and workshops were held during the conference to provide teaching methods and materials for teachers to cater to students with different proficiency levels.