She not only made the bold move to specialise in another language but is making waves for connecting with her pupils in a fun and creative way.
IT DID not take Nur Liyana Mohd Afandi very long to win the hearts of her pupils.
When addressing her pupils for the first time in class, the young graduate teacher surprised them by switching easily from Bahasa Malaysia to Mandarin!
The nine-year-olds squealed in delight and were amazed at their teacher’s proficiency in the Chinese language, but the children’s reaction was not unexpected.
Dedicated teacher: Nur Liyana in class with Chee Meng.
After all, Nur Liyana is probably one of the few Malay teachers who has had formal academic training to teach the Chinese language as a subject to primary school pupils.
“You should have seen the look on their faces. They were completely shocked,” says Nur Liyana, who is of Malay-Chinese parentage.
The 24-year-old graduate who loves the language is determined to prove that she is capable of teaching the Chinese language just as well as her other peers.
She has also been doing a good job of teaching and nurturing her young charges.
Nur Liyana is currently teaching Chinese, Science and Physical Education at SJK (C) Yuk Chyun in Kuala Lumpur.
Her pupils adore her creativity in organising games and activities in class. Her dedication is best summed up by her nine-year old student Hoh Chee Meng who says she always finds ways to make her lessons interesting and fun.
“My Lao Shi (teacher) even goes to the extent of encouraging us to excel in our studies by offering gifts and prizes,” adds Chee Meng.
Nur Liyana’s dream is to obtain a scholarship to study in Beijing, China.
“It is the place where I can exchange ideas with Chinese scholars and fully immerse myself in a Mandarin-speaking environment,” she says.
Born in Alor Setar, Kedah, Nur Liyana also speaks a smattering of Hokkien and Cantonese.
She had her primary and secondary schooling in SJK (C) Phui Ying, SMJK Perempuan Perak and SMK Raja Permaisuri Bainun, in Ipoh respectively.
Surrounded by friends who are predominantly Chinese, Nur Liyana has also developed a keen interest in Chinese calligraphy and a liking for the colour red, often associated with luck and good tidings.
“Ang ang (red) is all about luck and prosperity. I simply love to take part in Chinese calligraphy competitions, and it has been a tradition for me to give away my works of art as gifts to friends and family members during the Chinese New Year season.
“It is a way of spreading love, happiness and wishes to loved ones,” she says.
Proud parents: Mohd Afandi and Nurafni share their daughter’s joy after the graduation ceremony last year.
Nur Liyana was the centre of attention at her convocation last year, when she went up the stage to receive her scroll from Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong.
She wore a red baju kurung for the special event, which also marked the beginning of her exciting journey as a teacher.
“When Dr Wee was presenting the scrolls to those who specialised in the Chinese language, he was surprised to see me.
“He asked me in Bahasa Malaysia ‘Pengajian Cina ke?’ and asked me again in Mandarin ‘hua wen ma? (Chinese Language studies?)’ and I replied ‘yes’ and ‘thank you’ in Mandarin before leaving the stage,” recalls Nur Liyana of the encounter with the deputy minister.
Her parents, Mohd Afandi Md Zain and Nurafni Abdullah said they had no regrets in sending their daughter to a Chinese school as it was indeed a good decision.
Nurafni, a former sergeant with the Royal Malaysian Air Force, says she is proud of her daughter’s achievement.
“The only way to support and give Nur Liyana an extra edge in life and the job market was to encourage her to learn Mandarin which is a widely-spoken language,” says Mohd Afandi, who is a former sergeant based at the Sungai Petani police station in Kedah.