Another Day in the Life of ... : The ELT Industry in Malaysia

Have you ever thought that one day you might like to get out of the classroom and do something different? Emile Alexander Dodds has done just that and in this, the next in our occasional series Another Day in the Life of … he explains how he has combined his TEFL skills with his IT knowledge to move, at least partially, into the area of e-learning. Emile lives and works in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and runs the website Road to Grammar in his free time.

Every day in my life is different, so I’ll tell you about today.

I drag myself bleary-eyed out of bed at 6:45 a.m. and by 7:30 I’m in my Jeep heading to work. Traffic in Kuala Lumpur can be vicious, so I wake up quickly and concentrate on not hitting the motorcycles that weave in and out of the lanes in front of me.

Work starts at 8:15, but there’s always time for coffee and breakfast first. We’re out of ground coffee so it’s Nescafe again – yuck!

With ten years in the ELT industry under my belt, I have moved on from teaching. I am now a Product Development Manager at an e-Learning company. It’s a grand title but in reality I do everything under the sun – from programming and design to editing and meeting clients. And, yes, I still teach as well, on programmes we run for unemployed graduates and also inhouse in several call centers.

This morning I have a meeting with my boss, who has come down from the head office with a voice recognition software development package. Voice recognition is an important part of software for ESL learners and we want to move towards a more natural interaction between student and computer. If this software looks promising, we’ll hire a specialist programmer to work on it for us.

We plan to spend several hours looking at the software but…disaster! My boss has brought the software on DVD and our computers only run CD-ROMs. For a high tech organisation, that’s pretty embarrassing! We agree to meet next week instead and I spend the rest of the morning sorting out the mini library we have at our learning center.

In the afternoon I’ve been roped into helping out with a booth we will run at an upcoming exhibition. The name of the exhibition is ‘ICT in teaching’, or at least that’s how I would translate it. After so many years in Malaysia, my Malay is not bad although it could be better.

This is the day before the conference proper and of all things, there’s no air-conditioning in the conference hall! It’s November, but in Malaysia that doesn’t mean it’s cold. The tropical sun is burning down the same as it does every day of the year. Carrying boxes back and forth and putting up banners, pretty soon I’m absolutely drenched in sweat. I’m helping a Malaysian girl and an Indian girl. While they complain about the heat, they don’t seem to sweat like I do! To console myself, I wonder how they would deal with the weather in my native country, Scotland.

I should go back to the office, but I’m drenched in sweat; I’m going home early to take a shower. I’ll be at the exhibition for the next two days and I’ll be teaching Communication Skills for the next two days after that. I expect the teaching will be more enjoyable.

Back at home, I have time for my hobby – working on my websites. I have just revamped my ESL website, Later, I’ll be having dinner with my girlfriend. As a lawyer, she works longer hours than me and will probably leave her office at about 9:00. I’m looking forward to seeing her, but first I’m going to sit down and write about a day in my life…


Photos provided under Creative Commons Licence by peter.macdonald via

No comments: