M’sian Teacher Who Learned Mandarin From A Young Age Commits Career In Chinese Schools

One more language, one more advantage.

In a compelling story of perseverance and cultural integration, 41-year-old Suzana has dedicated her life to Chinese schools, both as a student and a teacher.

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Her journey, marked by determination and support from her family, highlights the importance of multilingualism in fostering understanding and respect among diverse communities.

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Cikgu suzana teach malay in chinese school
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

Mother Wishes to Bridge Cultural Gaps

In an interview with Sin Chew Daily, Suzana shared that her connection with Chinese education began with her mother, who lived in Kampung Sungei Baru, north of Segamat.

Surrounded by Chinese neighbours, her mother struggled with communication due to language barriers.

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Determined to give her children an advantage and bridge these gaps, she decided to enrol them in Chinese schools.

Cikgu suzana and her family
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

Suzana, the fourth of seven siblings, was the first to attend a Chinese primary school in Muar. Despite initially struggling with no prior knowledge of Chinese, she persevered.

Her mother’s wisdom, “Learning an additional language gives you an advantage and makes you different from others,” motivated Suzana to push through the difficulties.

Navigating Early Challenges

Entering primary school with no foundation in Chinese, Suzana faced numerous challenges. She recalls her first complete Chinese sentence, “Teacher, may I go to the toilet?” learned out of necessity when a teacher required her to ask in Chinese.

This small victory marked the beginning of her journey toward fluency.

Suzana’s primary school years were marked by struggle, particularly in dictation and math, and communication barriers with classmates and teachers.

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However, her persistent efforts and the support of her family and neighbours helped her overcome these obstacles. Her neighbour’s family often assisted Suzana with her homework, and in return, Suzana taught them Malay.

Continuing from Student to Teacher

Suzana’s connection with Chinese education did not end with her graduation. After attending Southern College, she returned to Muar Chung Hwa High School, as a Malay language teacher.

Cikgu suzana and her students
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

For the past 21 years, she has dedicated herself to teaching Malay to Chinese students, emphasizing the importance of cultural exchange.

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Based on WeirdKaya’s observation, she has now been promoted to one of the heads of department in the Malay language of Chung Hwa High School, Muar.

Suzana celebrating cny with colleagues
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

Suzana also worked as a temporary teacher at Foon Yew High School before settling back in Muar Chung Hwa High School.

Her journey as an educator reflects her commitment to fostering a deeper understanding of Malay culture among Chinese students.

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Encouraging Multilingualism in the Next Generation

Suzana’s belief in the benefits of multilingualism extends to her own children. All three of her children attended Chinese primary schools.

Despite her eldest son’s preference for a national secondary school, Suzana insisted that he continue Chinese lessons. This reflects her desire to ensure her children maintain their linguistic skills and cultural understanding.

Cikgu suzana and her children
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

Suzana uses her personal experiences to inspire her students. She shares her story of overcoming language barriers and the importance of understanding and respecting different cultures.

Her teaching methods include introducing students to Malay culture, customs, and cuisine, and even organizing Malay pastry-making sessions.

Cikgu suzana teaching students how to make malay kuih
Suzana teaches her students how to make kuih. (Photo via Sin Chew Daily)

A Vision for the Future

Suzana’s journey underscores the lifelong advantages of multilingualism and cultural education. Her efforts have not only enriched her own life but also positively impacted her students, promoting respect and understanding across cultural boundaries.

Suzana writing calligraphy
Photo via Sin Chew Daily

In her own words, Suzana emphasizes, “Mastering another language gives you an extra advantage. The beauty of any language is revealed when you can communicate without barriers.”

Her story is a testament to the power of education and cultural exchange in building a more inclusive and harmonious society.

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