This year, 10 teachers were honoured with the ‘Inspiring Teacher of English’ awards. More teachers and schools are coming up with creative ways to spice up language learning in the classroom. We gather the role models for good English lessons.
If school is the theatre where we imbibe a profound appreciation of English, then the teacher must surely be the playwright cum director, said Mr S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State.
He was speaking at the third ‘Inspiring Teacher’ award presentation ceremony in October 2010.
He also shared the interesting lesson ideas of the teacher-awardees. What changes can we look forward to in English teaching?
Speak Good English Movement
Initiatives for the Movement include ‘The School Invasion Tour’, planned for 2011, which will feature homegrown bands, including West Grand Boulevard, sharing how speaking good English has helped them bring their songs to a wider audience.
Love Stories, Love English
Storybooks are now becoming a feature of English lessons. Ms Lajwanti Melwani from White Sands Primary School knows the art of getting students interested in her lessons. She uses books such as ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ by Harper Lee, ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen, ‘A Passage to India’ by EM Forster and ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini, all to enhance the vocabulary of her charges. She inspires her students to read widely across a wide range of genres.
Speaking Up in Class
In Mr William Grosse’s class at Rosyth School, students are told not to stop talking. Debates and forums are part of English lessons here and to encourage his students to think and speak up, he creates a safe environment in class, and reminds them that “the teacher may not always have the answer”.
Mr Grosse constantly seeks out new teaching methods to ensure that his students enjoy learning. He readily lends his students books from his personal library such as ‘Call it Courage’ by Armstrong Sperry, ‘Johnathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach, ‘The Wind Singer’ by William Nicholson and ‘The Giver’ by Lois Lowry.
MOE has implemented the ‘Whole-School Approach to English Language’ at 40 pilot schools, comprising a mix of primary and secondary schools and a junior college. In these schools, teachers, students and administrative staff set aside time to learn together and improve their use of English. They use a wide variety of activities and programmes and everyone, staff and students alike, is encouraged to strive continuously to improve their English and aspire towards new levels of proficiency.
The Reading Bug
At Huamin Primary, students read, swap and share their books under the Whole-School Reading Programme, a pilot programme by MOE and the National Library Board(NLB). This programme, which aims to instil a lifelong love for reading, has 15 pilot schools on board. A culture of reading is sweeping across these schools, with parents getting involved in the reading activities.
MOE and the National Institute of Education(NIE) have been collaborating to develop a series of books on grammar called ‘About Grammar’. There are three books in the series – basic for Primary 3 & 4, Intermediate, for Primary 5-6 students and Advanced, for secondary school students.
This series of books, characterised by visuals, illustrations and simple, age-appropriate language, will help students learn grammar in a structured and engaging way.
With examples drawn from everyday life, humour is incorporated to make learning fun. The ‘About Grammar’ series will be an important resource that complements the reading culture and exposure to good English.
Teaching The Teachers
The MOE will set up the English Language Institute of Singapore (ELIS) by 2011 to be a centre for developing the teaching of English and English proficiency to all English Language and English medium teachers.
The core team of ELIS has been formed—headed by ELIS Principal-Designate, Mrs Wai Yin Pryke, currently, Principal of St Andrew’s Junior School.
ELIS will also work with the Inspiring Teachers of English award winners and partner with the Speak Good English Movement.
The ELIS aims to become a Centre of Excellence for the teaching of English in Asia and beyond.
Speak Good English Movement works with partner organisations to conduct workshops on various aspects of learning English. Some of these workshops are conducted for free at the libraries, though registration may be required. Visit its website for updates of such workshops.