LAM1201 Malay 1

Module: LAM1201 Malay 1

Semester taken: AY 2020/21 Semester 1

Lecturer: Mr Jamal Iskandar B Ismail (Cikgu Jamal)

Tutor: None

Textbook: None

What it is about

This is the beginner-level module for the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu) and is aimed at students that want to pick up some basic grammar and phrases. It is for students who do not have any prior knowledge of the language and is the first part of a two-module series that grants students with a basic proficiency certificate in the Malay language. At the end of this module, students would be able to speak basic conversational Malay and understand some basic words and grammar structures.

Assessment components

  • Class participation: 10%

  • Written test 1: 20%

  • Written test 2: 30%

  • Listening test: 10%

  • Oral test: 15%

  • Individual voice recording: 15%


Language modules in NUS are a great way for students to pick up a new language as part of the Unrestricted Electives component. However, the risk is high as there may be students with prior knowledge of the language and did not declare them before enrolment, which will give them an advantage. However, I feel that it is the same for other modules as well, as there may be students who have strong programming background taking CS1010 and can easily breeze through the module.

Nonetheless, the bell curve for this module would be steep, and I would recommend taking the module while having a friend who is knowledgeable in the language, so that you can consult them easily. The materials provided in the module is barely sufficient, and you will need to rely on Google Translate and Internet forums throughout your journey.

Personally, I took this module as I wanted to be able to survive by myself when travelling in Malaysia. However, most of the students in this module are nursing students who took this module with the intentions of being able to converse with their patients in the future. I was unfortunately the only CS student enrolled in the module.


There are 2x 2-hour lectures every week for a total of around 20 lessons in the semester. Each lesson can be quite intensive, as you are ultimately learning a new language which will require you to pick up words and phrases quickly. There are some content to go through, but they are usually completed rather quickly. Most of the time is spent trying to learn grammar rules and to keep practicing them. Cikgu Jamal will often mention words and their English translations very quickly, so it was a mad rush to take down notes.

The lesson is mostly conducted in English, as our grasp of the language is not strong enough yet. In the second half of the semester, Cikgu Jamal will try to hold short conversations with us, asking us how our day has been and whether we have eaten. It forces us to practice our Malay, but it was definitely very nerve-racking especially if you have not been practicing Malay outside of class (which I am definitely guilty of).

Overall, the pace is rather fast and it is important to try and keep up, as well as practice Malay outside of class with a friend who is knowledgeable about the language. Unless you are very good with languages, it is the only way to force yourself to learn those new words and phrases.

Written and Listening Tests

There were multiple written and listening tests throughout the semester. The written tests can be writing of short sentences and filling of blanks with the appropriate word. Of course, the first written test (ujian 1) would be easier than the second (ujian 2), where the second test required us to write longer sentences.

The listening test is also a fill-in-the-blank format which required you to listen to the tutor read a sentence, and fill in the missing word using the correct spelling. This test focuses on you knowing the correct spelling for each word, which is rather straightforward for Malay, but can have certain tripping points (such as with the letter "c").

Overall, the bell curve is steep here. I am quite positive some people cheated here, as there were no proper proctoring involved and people could secretly use Google Translate. It is the unfortunate side effect of taking this module online.

Oral Test

The oral test is paired, where each pair is given a picture and will have to come up with a suitable script that would have the scene in the picture appear during the skit. My pair got a picture of two kids playing computer games, and our script was the dialogue between the pair before, during and after they were playing the game.

This test can be quite challenging, as you are required to be very well-versed in the grammar rules when forming the dialogue sentences. You will also need to be creative in order to come up with the script, so that you have sufficient content to talk about (you need about 20 lines in total). Additionally, you only have about 15 minutes to come up with the dialogue after seeing the picture. Try to pick a partner that you know is quite decent with the language (based on the marks obtained in the previous components) for an added advantage.

Individual Voice Recording

The final component of the module involves you recording your own voice and narrating a particular script that you have come up with. The topic I had was about my family, and I had to come up with two presentation slides with a voice recording for both slides. The first slide was an introduction to my family, whereas the second slide is a picture of my family doing an activity together.

The task is quite straightforward, but just be careful about your sentence structures and grammar. As you have some time to prepare for this, make sure that you do not make a mistake in your pronunciation, have good enunciation of the words and make use of proper grammar in the script.

Other information

Assignment workload: There is a voice recording to be done individually.

Project workload: None

Readings: None

Recommended if: You are interested in learning the Malay language.

Rating: 3.5/5. The module was rather messy, disorganised and unstructured.

Expected grade: A-

Actual grade: B+

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