Englishjer & Co. (Exclusive Interview): Enhancing English Language Through Fun Learning

by Izzati Haron

Exclusive Interview: Englishjer & Co.

Adamant in making a small but significant change to the world, Qayyum Jumadi sets his will to embark into the world of social enterprise through Englishjer.

1. Can you please tell us a little bit about your educational background?

Qayyum Jumadi, the founder of Englishjer.
Source: The sCoolers

I grew up in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. I enrolled in La Salle High School and took pure Science stream there. I then further my study in law foundation and I took my law degree in University Malaya (UM). 

Ever since then, I’ve been joining various small courses, trying to self-learn languages, and coding as well. I guess now it’s Spanish and French, but only the basic stuff.

2. How did the idea of Englishjer come to mind?

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There’s a personal side and also professional side of it. I’ll tell you both. 

Personal Side

Personally, I think when I went to law school, there’s a lot of issues going on. Sometimes there’s a lot of conflicts that we had in life. 

It’s not really a conflict of policy or big thing, sometimes it’s just an issue of not understanding each other and lower level of education, that’s what I found. I wanted to make a change in this world but it’s not really one way to do it. 

I found out that education is a strong way to go about it. You build communities, you share and you teach, those things are important in building strong and informed society. That’s what I did since law school. 

So, Englishjer came about to bridge this gap between people who know and people who don’t know as well as people who want to learn.

Professional Side

As for the professional side of it, I guess it was actually an experiment. When I was a digital strategist back in the company, my manager told me that I need to find a way to build something online or some kind of a platform.

I worked at an advertising company so we were experimenting a lot of things and Englishjer is one of the experiments itself. Englishjer is supposed to be like a community building where you get people together and you could teach them. 

But then, it grew as a social media and so, my manager asked me if we could do a website for it and then it grew from that. Therefore, professionally, it was an experiment that went really well. And from there, we keep on expanding until today. 

That’s how Englishjer came about.

3. If people were to ask you about Englishjer, how would you explain it in your own words?

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I guess it’s just an initiative movement project to make English more accessible, friendly and unintimidating. It’s basically a medium to create an ecosystem where English can be accepted much more easily. 

We want to present communication in English in a way that’s easy and digestible to people. Whether or not they want to learn or join us, that’s a different story.

4. Do you have any specific vision/mission for Englishjer?

Our big mission is to make English accessible. However, to build on that, we do a lot of online stuff such as social media and websites. We also do training and charity. So far, most of our projects are free. 

Another thing is that we strive to build a community of volunteers, learners as well as educators. That’s the mission and vision.

5. What about Englishjer programs, can you explain more about them?

Englishjer works in a way that we don’t sell our programs. We are ready to work on an event as long as it is paralleled to our philosophy. 

Let’s say if you want to do a talent show, we will inject Englishjer brand in it where there must be educational as well as community elements to it.

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Englishjer Camp
Source: Englishjer Twitter
Englishjer Camp
Source: Englishjer Twitter

We’ve done camps, quizzes and online videos where we would bring different people together. We never confined ourselves to one thing and we always consider it as a big kind of idea as long as it is for the betterment of English, communication and community. 

6. From what I’ve read, your camps are mostly targeted for secondary and tertiary level students. So, do you guys have any plan to organise one for primary school students in the future?

Here’s the thing. We have done camps for primary schools, but, mostly when we do this, we would partner up with others. However, the problems with primary school kids are that you have to get the consent of the parents and be extra careful of their safety all the time. 

So, that’s why we prefer to work with people who are above 18 years old. It is basically easier for them to take care of themselves. 

We did organise a few programmes with the orphanage in Puchong and Shah Alam and that’s for underprivileged and early high schools and below. The pedagogy for younger kids are very different that’s why. 

We are trying to focus more on senior high school until about late jobseekers. 

We also accept if people or organisations would like to partner up with us for kids’ programs. We have like hundreds of modules already for kids, high schoolers and even for corporate people. 

7. Are there any programs that you guys plan of doing in the future?

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So far, we are only trying to accept invitations for workshops, camps, and talks. Actually, in a year, we planned so many things, but this year we want to focus on space first. 

We need to find a way to make money as we’re a social enterprise, thus, the money that we get, we will give it back to people and programs, so we need to find a model where the money comes in, while we get to give back. 

8. For the online videos posted on Englishjer website, do you do it monthly, weekly or only when you get requests from people?

Online Videos posted on Englishjer & Co.

We usually try not to do requests, because people request a lot of things. Therefore, we look at trends and common problems/mistakes that people do. Then, we sit down and discuss what should we fix, write those scripts and we shoot. 

The latest videothat we posted was 2 years ago, but our content is evergreen, so you can always share and re-share it because it’s still relevant up until today.  

We are trying to get more people to be involved in our video. We’ve done about 30 videos so far, but the problem is this year, people still commit the same mistakes so there are no new things to discuss.

We want to look at new angles after this and invite more experts.

9. Englishjer has also published 100/100 book which collected creative write-ups from creative minds all over Malaysia. So far, there are only 2 editions of them. Do you guys plan to continue publishing it?

Englishjer’s Hundred Hundred Second Edition: Home
Source: Englishjer Instagram

We want to do it, but those things are expensive. You can’t print 200-300 hundred books per printing but the least would be around a thousand bulk. The reception has been good but we need better responses and we need to find a way to cut costs in doing it. 

Our books were sold in Popular bookstores and they are out of copy after the fifth printing. We stopped selling them because it involved a lot of work and the margin is not high. Finance is the problem. 

10. What about merchandise for your followers?

Englishjer Customised T-shirts
Source: Englishjer Instagram

We do have our own shirts. However, when it comes to merchandise, we mostly give them to our volunteers who have been working with us for quite some time as an appreciation gift. 

As for our partners such as Petronas who held a program with us December last year, we gave them specially customised shirt which is different from Englishjer merchandise, as an extra appreciation for them.

The problem is if we ever going to give some to our participants, we can’t print so many of them without any guarantee that people will buy. But later, when we have stronger followers, we will definitely try.

11. You mentioned about office relocation for Englishjer in your email. Where would the new one be?

It’s at Jalan SS7/16, Kelana Jaya. It’s huge and we’re going to have our own studio, living centre, seminar area where you can conduct classes, it’s also a co-working space and a little bit like an art space. It’s going to be opened next month (August). Do come by later!

12. It says in your website that Englishjer had been involved in conducting several poetry events. Can you tell us more about that? 

Shot In The Dark by Englishjer
Source: Englishjer Instagram

Yes, we do organise our own poetry event called ‘Shot In The Dark’ where people would come to the front while the light is closed. 

It’s designed for new poets so that they will not feel afraid in front of the crowd as we would cover them and only their poetry is being highlighted. 

We want to do it more often when the new space we mentioned is ready. 

13. What are your future goals for Englishjer?

In the future, we want to be stronger in online platform

We want to do more quizzes and we want to curate more journey-like programmes. Let’s say if you have a specific problem in this matter, you will have to take this course or maybe a particular program, be it online or offline, and that will solve the problem. 

So, we plan to customise a lot of these, and we also want to organise more camps after this. 

So far, we have partnered with Petronas, USM Sg. Besi, Yayasan Peneraju as well as UTHM Johor. They helped us by sponsoring the cost and facilities for our programme.  We look forward to partner up with more people and organisations in the future. 

14. Is there any call out you would like to make for all the people out there?

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Yes, sure. Everyone should go out and try to make this world a more understanding place. I want people to appreciate knowledge and information. 

Go out there, volunteer, try new stuff or even better, create your own! We will support you as long as it is for the betterment of the community or even just for one or two individuals. 

What we hope is for people to move, whether or not you end up somewhere, that’s a different matter.

Small efforts count because a lot of big things come from very small voices.

So, we have to keep moving forward. 

More Info

Do make your way to Englishjer website and drop by their Facebook and Instagram pages for the latest updates on their programs! You can also follow them on Twitter for daily educational tweet on English language.

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You can also head over to our blog for more exclusive interviews like this and on other available topics.

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