Pelajar Cemerlang Series 3

This year marked the third year of our video project where we invited students who scored distinctions in the recent June O Level Malay Language Examinations to share their recipes to success. The aim of this video project is to educate our upcoming graduating students on how best to prepare for their national examinations and to motivate them to work hard to give their best.

This year several students have agreed to share their recipes to success and you can view their sharing and sharing of past students here. We usually play these videos during the first lesson of the year to get our graduating students to start the year on the right foot. These videos serve as a trigger activity to get our graduating students to envision themselves in the shoes of the students in this video. At the end of the lesson, they are given the task to create a video of themselves sharing (a) how they felt when they first heard that they had scored a distinction in the O Level Malay Language Examinations and (b) what were their recipes to success.

The aim of this envisioning exercise is to stroke our graduation students’ emotions so deeply that they experience that rush of adrenaline that comes with success and hopefully, albeit brief and fleeting, this experience will motivate them to work hard to score a distinction for themselves too. We look forward to discussing in greater detail how we had used these students’ videos from the envisioning exercise we had this year to better prepped our graduating students just before they sat for their O Level Malay Language Examinations in June. Do look out for our future post on this.

Using Our Books to Better Support Learning

We provide our upper secondary students from the Express and Normal Academic streams a copy of our karangan and email books. This approach allows our students with better support when we teach our writing strategies. Our students are able to see how the strategies play out in the samples karangan and email in the book and model them when completing their writing assignments.

On this note, we encourage you to consider including our books in your school booklist for upper secondary Express and Normal Academic classes. Do raise your intention with the owner of your school’s bookstore and instruct the owner to contact us for supply. Do let us know early so that we can set aside supply for your school.

We have just sent the manuscript of our fourth book – Panduan Bacaan & Lisan Untuk Persiapan Peringkat N & O – for printing. We plan to provide our graduating students a copy of this book next year to better support them for their Oral O Level Examination. We are aware as educators that the oral examination is the third-largest mark component of the overall Malay Language assessment in the O Level Examinations. We believe that the book is a good investment for students who are working towards doing well for the Malay Language O Level Examinations.

You may want to include this book too in your Secondary 4 and 5 classes’ booklists. Do contact us should you be interested to do so.

No Teacher Should Be Left Behind

We have designed below 10 Teachers’ Day online wishes cards that you can choose from to express your appreciation towards your teachers for free. In this way, no teacher should be left behind from receiving your appreciation and well-wishes.

How to use them. You can post these cards on social media, tag them to your teachers if you know their social media accounts, and add your personalized message for them in your posts. Alternatively, you can email these cards to your teachers. You can find their email addresses from your school website. Or, you can text the link to the cards in an SMS or Whatsapp to them too. Whichever works best for you.

We would love to hear which card is your favourite in the comment section below this post. Remember, don’t miss out any of your teachers! Make Teachers’ Day a blessed day for rejoicing for them for all the hard work they had put in for you.

On the behalf of your teachers, I thank you in advance for your appreciation and well-wishes.

Celebrating Teachers

Teachers’ Day is an important occasion for my family. It is an opportunity for me to reinforce in my children the values of respect towards those who help develop their intellect and mold them into morally-upright individuals. To achieve this, I would ensure that my children have something meaningful prepared for their teachers as Teachers’ Day gifts. You will be surprised that with a bit of agency and creativity, you could come up with something that costs little to put together that your teachers will appreciate. Beyond that, for the younger ones, I went as far as to get them to rehearse scripted well-wishes they will say to their teachers when they present their gifts to them. All these are to heighten the significance of the occasion in my children.

This year, we decided to work with enamel pins. I got these rare pins costing two dollars each online that came in four colours but my children preferred them in red and black. The message on the apple-shaped pins reads:

I am a teacher. What is your superpower??????

We designed back-up cards with customized messages for individual teachers together. We wrapped the Teachers’ Day gifts in decorative plastic bags. What do you reckon? Do you like them?

I hope this sharing sparks off some interesting ideas you can consider as meaningful gifts for your teachers this coming Teachers’ Day. Do start early thinking about what you would like to give them. Do not forget your Malay teachers. They have been working hard to prepare you for your Malay Language O Level Examination last June. The results release is anticipated to be this Monday. Regardless of your results, do show your appreciation for all the good they have done for you thus far.

Preparing Students Psychologically for the Imminent ML O Level Results Release

What does a Japanese racehorse have anything to do with graduating classes and the Malay Language O Level results release. Who would have thought that there is a connection and a useful one too?

The Malay Language O Level results release is imminent. The release is anticipated with a varying degree of trepidations from many students, even those who were consistently doing well in assignments and are expected to do ace the examinations. They are the focus of our one-time lesson specially designed for the pre-Malay Language O Level results release.

The objective of our lesson is to psychologically prepare our graduating students when they receive their Malay Language O Level results. All of them have worked tirelessly for the past 18 months now. However, we adults are wise enough to know that life may not necessarily play out as how we plan it to be and we may not get in the end what we have strived hard towards to before. Our students are too young to know this and maybe too inexperienced to accept disappointment to bounce back stronger and focus on the next step.

The next step for our graduating students is the November O Level Examinations for their remaining subjects. They have to remain focus regardless of what is the outcome of their Malay Langauge O Level results. They can achieve this if they are able to take disappointment well and bounce back as soon as possible. However, we have seen over the years there would always be a few whom we had expected to do well lost a lot of time because they were sucked into a depression after receiving an unfavourable result. This lesson is for them.

What this lesson is not – and this is an important caveat – is that it is not for students who refuse to work hard from the start. They should not take what they learn from the lesson any respite for their poor results that were of their own doing. This has to be made clear from the start of the lesson. We do not want students to walk away from the lesson with any unintended message that may affect negatively how they approach work and challenges in life moving forward. We thank God that most of our students are highly motivated to work hard to ace their examinations except for a very small number.

Our special lesson is designed around a short film about a Japanese racehorse named Haru Urara. The video is available in Vimeo. The original lesson can be found here but we have made some modifications.

The most prominent modification is an activity called Dearest me that we have added at the end of the lesson. In this activity, students are invited to write a motivational note to themselves via Google Form using their handphones. These notes are for their eyes only and will not be shared with others. As such, they are expected to be sincere and upfront with what they wrote. Their notes consist of advice and words of motivation to themselves should they get unfavourable results, may God forbids.

We will text these notes to them after the release of the results. What better way to shake one up from a depression slumber than reading one own advice and motivation!

We encourage you to modify the lesson to what suits your students best. Good luck! Do share with us how you lesson went. We would love to hear from you. Cheers

Teaching Comprehension Question Types

We teach our graduating students systematically on how to ace comprehension exercises.

Our 5-step approach consists of teaching them (1) what makes up the structure of a comprehension passage, (2) how to annotate every paragraph in the passage, (3) how to match questions to answers in the passage, (4) what are the different question types and how to answer them, and (5) how to derive the meaning of selected vocabulary asked in the questions.

We share with you here resources we use teaching our graduating students the different question types for 5-mark comprehension questions. You’ll find our lesson recording above and the PowerPoint slides used in the lesson here useful. We hope you benefit from our sharing.

Happy 55th Birthday SINGAPORE!

We celebrate Singapore’s 55th birthday amid a global pandemic. Despite these challenging times, Singaporeans from all walks of life find ways to help one another cope and make Singapore safe for all.

We have put together a video to honour this Singapore Spirit for our school National Day Programme this Friday. This is our contribution to our beloved nation, albeit insignificant compared to what others have done thus far. Nevertheless, we feel we must contribute to whatever measure we can.

We hope that you enjoy the video. Feel free to use it for your school’s National Day Programme too. Do forward the video link to your NE Coordinator or CCE HOD. We wish you a restful long weekend ahead.

Recent Graduates Shared Their O Level Experiences (and More!)

We invited our most recent graduates to share with our graduating students their experiences preparing for their Malay Language O Level Examinations experiences. This sharing was part of the motivation segment that we conducted on the last day of our Intensive Mother Tongue Programme and has become a tradition that we have maintained for several years now. Following the sharing was the prize-giving ceremony that we have discussed extensively here to end our programme on a high.

The selected students whom we had invited scored distinctions for their Malay Language O Level Examinations and represented both the Secondary 4 Express and 5 Normal Academic streams. Their sharing was meant to inspire our graduating students to work hard specifically for Malay Language and generally for other subjects in the O Level Examinations, In addition, they had the opportunity to learn first-hand experiences from those who ‘have been there and done that’. This was facilitated by the Q&A session where our students could ask these graduates any questions at all.

From our experiences thus far, the questions our students put forth did not necessarily centre around Malay Language and other subjects alone but touched on a range of other topics like EAE application and interview, life in polytechnic and BGR. It was amazing to see our students being comfortable discussing openly and learn from their seniors (under our close watch of course, where we jumped in when we felt it was important to enlighten any possible misinformation *smile).

We conducted the session via Google Meet this year because of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the session was still as engaging as when we did it face to face in the previous years. This year we had Adibah, Asyiqin, Nadhirah and Adam. They had been generous and also volunteered to share in our Pelajar Cemerlang Series sharing on this website. We have seen a lot of benefits from holding this sharing and we encourage you to consider having it during your yearly Intensive Mother Tongue Programme for your graduating students. All the best!

How to Ace Listening Comprehension

Listening comprehension is the last paper of the Malay Language N and O Level Examinations. It is the paper that students are expected to do well and gain back marks that they have lost in the earlier papers because of mistakes. However, listening comprehension may not be easy for students who are not careful. It is littered with distractions to trick students into choosing the wrong answers.

We present below 5 tips that we shared with our students on how to ace listening comprehension. Feel free to share with us other tips that you might have in the comment section so that we can help you share them with others on this website.

This is the most common and convenient trick that you often find in listening comprehension. The recording will throw at you all the wrong options early to falsely lead you into believing that one of them is the answer before quietly making a turn to the right answer.

Let us see if you can spot the Turn in this recording for the question below.

Nyatakan sebab Farah tidak dapat menemani Hakim untuk mendapatkan tiket konsert kumpulan Melodi.

(A) Farah perlu menjaga ibunya yang sakit di rumah.
(B) Farah ada banyak tugasa yang perlu diselesaikan.
(C) Farah sibuk dengan bermacam-macam aktiviti sekolah.
(D) Farah mahu ke Panggung Permata pada waktu tengahari.

You notice that the Turn happens when Farah says, ”Tetapi, sebenarnya . . . ” After the turn, you realize that the answer is (A).

This is the next popular trick and often is often used with other tricks. In this trick, the recording replaces keywords from the question with synonyms to confuse you. So if you are waiting to hear the keywords in the question mentioned in the recording, trust me you will never get to hear them.

Let us see if you can spot how the keyword in the question below is replaced with a synonym in this recording.

Apakah produk terbaharu yang dihasilkan oleh Syarikat Harmoni?

(A) Pil Minda Fokus
(B) Jus Epal Tropika
(C) Susu Soya Segar
(D) Teh Halia Anggerik

You notice that the keyword terbaharu in the question is replaced with a synonym terkini in the recording. The answer is (C).

This trick is more sophisticated than the earlier two tricks and it is employed from question 5 onwards. In this trick, the keyword from the question and some of the answer options are mentioned early in the recording but void of any connection just to distract you into believing that one of the answer options is the right answer. Stay calm and continue to hear closely for you will hear the keyword mentioned again with the right answer that follows.

Let us see if you can spot how the keyword in the question below is thrown early in this recording just to trick you into believing that what follows is the answer.

Sebagai pegawai perkhidmatan pelanggan Cik Shida dilengkapi dengan kemahiran yang memudahkannya menjadi penghantar makanan. Nyatakan kemahiran tersebut.

(A) kemahiran untuk berbahasa Mandarin dan Tamil
(B) kemahiran untuk berkomunikasi dengan sesiapa sahaja
(C) kemahiran untuk menghadapi keadaan yang berbeza-beza
(D) kemahiran untuk melayani pelanggan daripada pelbagai latar belakang

You notice that the keyword (or rather key phrase) pegawai perkhidmatan pelanggan is mentioned early and mentioned again towards the end of the recording. The first mention is to distract you while what follows from the second mention is the right answer which is (C).

This is also another sophisticated trick and is employed in the later questions of listening comprehension. In this trick, you find several half-truth answer options to tempt you to consider any of them as the right answer. Pull back and study the recording till the end. You will find these answer options seem true halfway you listen to the recording but turn out to be false by the time you finish listening to the full recording.

Let us see how many answer options in the question below you can identify as half-truth after scrutinizing till the end of this recording.

Mengapakah Yana kurang selesa dengan tindakan Faiz?

(A) Yana meragui kesahihan tawaran yang diiklankan.
(B) Faiz bertindak secara terburu-buru dan tanpa usul periksa.
(C) Reputasi syarikat yang mengadakan jualan murah itu tidak diketahui.
(D) Iklan tersebut mungkin bertujuan untuk memperdayakan orang ramai.

You notice that all the answer options are half-truth expect for (A).

This is the strategy that we strongly advised students to employ for selected questions where they are unsure if they have got the right answer. In this strategy, we urge them to ignore the recording and run down each of the answer options with a logic test. A logic test simply aims to tease out if the answer options hold true in a real-world setting.  If it does, it is likely the right answer. To facilitate the logic test, just imagine what would you do if you are faced with the question asked in real life.

Let us see which answer option in the question below survives your logic test.

Apakah langkah yang paling penting sebelum memulakan proses tawar-menawar?

(A) menanyakan harga barangan yang mahu dibeli
(B) meminta agar harga barangan yang mahu dibeli dikurangkan
(C) membuat tawaran yang sesuai bagi barangan yang mahu dibeli
(D) membandingkan harga barangan yang mahu dibeli terlebih dahulu

You notice that (D) is the what you and anyone else would do if you address the question above in real life. That’s the logic test in play.

We hope you have benefited from our sharing. We wish you all the best in the coming N and O Level Listening Comprehension Examinations. Do share this post with your colleagues and friends. Cheers!

Motivational Gifts for Graduating Students

We continued our yearly tradition of holding a prize-giving ceremony during our intensive mother programme this year. We held this ceremony at the end of the programme and it was meant to lift up our graduating students’ spirits, as the programme was quite an energy-sapping experience. The ceremony was also to reward them for working hard to learn Malay throughout their 4-5 years stay in our school.

We have seen our students grew and mature right before our eyes. We felt honoured that we had the opportunity to teach them not just the content of our subject expertise but also nurture them into individuals with wholesome values and good work ethics from our classroom interactions with them. How we wish that our influence would sustain and be far-reaching, even after our students have left us. With this in mind, we have thought of the right gift for them.

This year we have decided to gift each of our students a Solar System Crystal Ball. This 6 by 6 cm crystal ball can be part of their bedroom decorations whereby upon looking at these gifts remind them fondly of us and the advice we gave them, as well as the memorable experiences they had during our lessons.

Why the Solar System Crystal Ball?
Well, a documentary about the Apollo 8 mission that sent humanity to circle the moon for the first time in 1968 had inspired us. Though it took the following year for Apollo 11 mission to land humans on the celestial body, this mission was still nothing short of spectacular. The Apollo 8 crew were fixated at the moon as the spacecraft circled around it was understandable. The inaugural mission to the moon was a momentous moment for humanity. The whole proceeding was telecasted live that many people around the world could see the moon’s surface up close for the first time to concur if the moon was really as it was described in their local folklore of romance genre.

Something profound happens when astronauts see Earth from space for the first time

Just as all eyes were fixated on the moon, one of the Apollo 8 crew had a Eureka moment to turn the camera around to capture the sight of the Earth. He must have been curious how our planet looked like as arguably no one had seen our blue planet from space up till then. The sight of the Earth the size of a soccer ball was a gasp of surprise. Looking at our mother planet for the first time gave rise to a profound and overwhelming shift in awareness. This sense of awe is now described as the Overview Effect.

What is the Overview Effect?
While the Overview Effect is understood and discussed broadly by commentators (as evident in the Vimeo video below), we narrow its applicability to looking at one’s challenges in life from a wider perspective.

How do we mean by this?
Well, life offers us unexpected challenges as we moved along its different stations. These challenges often knock us off our feet as we are caught by surprise and left unprepared for them. During those moments when we are down and out, we are likely to fall into depression and to recover out of our predicament will prove difficult and long if ever possible. Chances are for the weak hearted, they may even call it quits and choose to end their life.

However, if we look at our challenges in a wider perspective, we are bound to ask: Does all our present challenges so great that they add up to the size of Singapore? Definitely no, right? I can only think of the Prime Minister of Singapore who has a challenge that fits the size of Singapore because he burdens the nation’s problems.

Still, even if our present challenges do fill up the size of Singapore and possibly the whole world, the world as we can see from the Solar System Crystal Ball is no bigger than a saga seed. Moreover, even if our challenges add up to the size of the whole solar system, they are still no bigger than a speck of dust in the context of the whole universe!

A knock of reality
Remember, there are 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarf stars within the Milky Way Galaxy. The nearest such planet may be 12 light-years away. This is with only within our Milky Way Galaxy while there are an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the universe or so. And this number is likely to increase to about 200 billion as telescope technology in space improves.

How is that for a perspective? In short, no matter how huge our challenges we perceive to be, in reality they are just a speck of dust.

So what does Overview Effect teach us?
Overview Effect teaches us all life challenges put together are no more than a speck of dust and we should not be afraid of them. We should expect challenges and challenges are meant to help us grow qualitatively to be better in what we do so as to prepare us for more difficult times in the future. For example, a good entrepreneur can only be at the cutting edge of his business if he takes every challenge as an opportunity for him to reflect on his practices to seek ways how he can improve how he carries out his business. Only in this way he can succeed.

Likewise, this is the spirit that we expect from our graduating students. We are hopeful that by looking at the Solar System Crystal Balls we gave them will help activate this Overview Effect every time they are faced with challenges as they move along the different stations of life. And in doing so, they remember our advice in this regards so that they remain excited about living and take what life throws at them as an opportunity to learn to better at what they do.