Monday, August 06, 2007

Sue speaks to UPSR pupils

Eager learners: English session facilitator Sue Boey helping Year Five and Year Six pupils with their exercises during the workshop.

I was stunned. The hall is full again. That would be say 200. Some familiar faces. I addressed the crowd who was excited by my music and animated powerpoint introduction. "Teacher, I'm Amelia. I was here last year."

"How many of you here aim to get straight As for your coming exam?"

Almost instantly all hands went to the air! That was great, there's hope! Indeed, the pupils chose to succeed early. Instead of spending their Sunday lazing around, they decided to spend the entire day improving themselves .

Now, sitting in the lecture theater for 8 hours is no joke. The average attention span of these pre-teens is barely 10 minutes. So, I believe the speakers play an important role in determining how the day would go for the audience.

Knowing this, I know my 1 1/2 hour slot cannot be any less interesting. So I've decided to make sure there's full participations from the audience that also involved physical movements for them. Cannot imagine sentencing my students to the 'bench' for the whole day. So, I'm sure if you are one of the students who have attended my talk, you'd have had a good 'squeeze' from your great 'massage' buddy! Thank you! Thank you! I needed it!

4 Aug- It was the 2nd talk in Sunway University College for the UPSR students. I did a quick research and these are my findings. About 90% of them will be taking UPSR this year, the rest are in Year 4 and 5. Some students came from as far as Kepong, Batu Caves and Kajang. The first row was dominated by students from Sri Garden and Tmn Ehsan. They were very active and definitely 'involved' our discussions and 'arguments'. I promoted a 2 way interaction. Never take your teachers' word as the 'gospel-truth'. Dare yourself to present your thoughts and opinions. If you think you are right, explain your stand and logic and fight for it. So that was my challenge to them. Many took it up, which I was what I wanted to see and spoke to me enthusiastically about how they feel about certain issues.

I'm very happy, they are responsive. It's a life skill. Matthew from Kepong fought his way thru to get the 'special' gift from me right to the end. So, I decided to give him a copy of the UPSR book that I've written and published because he deserved it. Others stayed back and asked for autographs. That made me an instant 'idol' ... haha.. how flattering. But what touched me most were their words after I closed my session. Some participants came up to me and thanked me profusely for enlightening them, telling them life is not only all about scores. There's something called 'excellence' which we need to strive.

I encouraged them to speak, I guessed about 40% of the students voiced was amplified so that the whole lecture hall could hear. They came to ask me questions, I went to speak to them. Another 20% had to 'shout' because they were sitting too far 'up'. The rest of the 39% participated because all hands were raised every time I have a question for them. I monitored well. I even saw a sleeping girl and 3 boys shooting erasers at each other. That's the 1%. I handled the situation. The boys were separated so that could concentrate better and they did. The girl, well, she's in another world, and she chose to, I shall not disturb because the other 208 students are awake and with me.

I shared with them the exam tips that took me right to thru my university years. I'm glad that they put them into practise almost immediately. That's my contribution.

How do you do?: Kuntum mascot Si Pintar getting acquainted with the Year Five and Year Six pupils during a break at the Kuntum UPSR Workshop at Sunway University College.


Monday, April 30, 2007

General Explanation

Kuntum has a wide range of readers, students from both primary, secondary and international schools students, teachers and parents read it because it's informative, entertaining and up to date. Because of that, we vary our contents to suit the different kinds of readers.

As for our UPSR English section, our editorial team spends a great amount of time deciding the kind of text to be published. We catagorise the UPSR sample questions to 3 different levels, Level 1 - Elementary, Level 2- Intermediate, Level 3- Higher-Intermediate. Some of the questions are structured to be very simple (cater for the very weak students), while the rest are designed to be of L 2 and L 3 standard. Our suggested answers are just a sample and guide on how some Year 5-6 students will attempt to answer. It is not the absolute and final answer. Of course no one answer fits all. After much deliberations, we sometimes choose very high quality suggested answers to show readers how they can answer in such a way. (What is the point of giving 'too simplified answers that have no quality?) That one, you can get in some other low quality magazines or workbooks!

(Actually, those answers are given by Year 5 & 6 students themselves. For the Mac/ April issue answers, they are written by some students from Subang USJ and Klang Agama school. They are very bright students, top students in their own schools. This is to show that our Malaysian students' standard of English is very high, so as the LEADING educational magazine, Kuntum has the responsibility to maintain high quality and up-to-date questions to 'challenge' the students to excel in their studies. So sometimes, our questions or suggested answers might seems a bit 'HARD' for the weaker students.

Problem 1: 'BECAUSE.
Of course we can start a sentence with 'because'. Take this e.g. Because he is weak in English, he works extra hard to improve himself. I've used this question during last year's UPSR seminar and more than 60% of the students got it right. That goes to show that our students have that high command of English. The rest of the 40% of course learn heaps from this question! So, there's no problem at all with any sentence starting with 'Because'.

In any case, I'd a big discussion with Prof, Sarah North from University of Exeter, Plymouth, when I was studying in England about this issue, and she convinced me that it's perfectly valid to start a sentence with 'because'. the only thing is, for a start, we don't teach kids this technique because they have limited command of English. As they improve and become more proficient, we can introduce this concept to them.

We believe it's perfectly fine to trust that our Year 5-6 students are ready to be introduced this type of sentence structure. If however, your students or children find it too difficult because they have not learned it in anywhere else, then, learn it here with us, Kuntum.

It not fair to assume that because it's not stipulated in the guidelines that we cannot introduce more high standard questions to our students. Remember, we in Kuntum caters for many different kinds of students, not only the weak ones. If we keep publishing 'over-simplified' or 'not challenging' sample UPSR questions, then, it will affect our quality and image. So, we try our best to keep a balance. Some issues, the questions are slightly simpler, other issues, we raise the standard slightly to excite other readers who have better command of the language. In this way, the weaker ones benefit and the better ones keep coming back for more.

2. As for the issue of whether or not, we should use 'is' or 'are' for veg/ meat, it's very subjective. This sentence, 'They are fresh and cheap' is a perfectly correct sentence grammatically speaking. YOu cant be expecting the Vege. seller to sell only ONE type of Veg. so logically it's valid to assume that the vege. seller's vegetables are fresh and cheap. Right?

However, if you want to use 'is' , that is still valid. It's considered of course an oversimplified answer. However, as long as it's grammatically correct, you still get your points in exams.

There's no hard and fast rules to restrict PRIMARY school students to USE only 'singular' when constructing their sentences. It's based on their ability to compose their composition.
If they are good, they produce better sentences right. It's as simple as that.

I hope this explanation will satisfy our readers' doubts.

In any case, we appreciate your valuable feedback to us. That shows that you care for your children as well as the for the education system in our country. While we strive to keep our contents superior, we also take into account you, our valued readers concerns. We value your feedback and your continuous support.
Welcome to UPSR 2007

Hello students. Due to popular demand, I guess it'd be best that I publish all my thoughts, tips and answers to all your queries in this blog. In this way, many other students would benefit from the answers and comments.

So, all of my ex-students and future students or anyone who's interested in learning more about English, you're welcome here. I hope you've received a personal invitation from me to visit this blog instead of sending me private emails or in chats. We would be able to keep a record of our convesations here!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

HI guys ( I mean you guys who are taking your UPSR soon)

Glad to have met you during the Kuntum Seminar in Penang. I am back in KL- btw and would love to keep in touch with all of you.

If you have any questions that you'd like to ask me, please feel free to drop me a line ok!

Warm regards
Sue Boey