Creative Ways to Learn English

February 26, 2021

English, the lingua franca of the internet, is the language of international communication. It is a challenge to teach the language to students especially when it is not their first language of communication at home. With the world becoming smaller due to globalisation, the importance of the English language, recognised as the international trading language, is becoming very evident. In this Internet and Information Age, it is crucial to know and master the English language to be a global player. The English language has been widely spoken and used in Malaysia for many years, and is taught as a compulsory language in schools. Very often, teachers have to come up with different, innovative and creative ways to help students become independent users of the language.

The English Department in our Private School has also tried different approaches to make the teaching and learning of English more interesting for our students.

English activities in 2020 – the year that was

QR codes & Urban Legends – writing essays & getting peer feedback

Writing a story is one option for the essay question in the SPM English examination. Urban legends is a form of story that includes elements of suspense and mystery. Students wrote their essays. (Teacher checked the essays for grammar errors). Students then created a QR code for their essays. During the peer feedback session, students scan the QR code (using their gadgets) of their friends’ essays and complete the feedback form provided to highlight the strong points and what can be included to further improve their essays.

Book Tasting – A taste of books of different genres.

Books of different genres – fantasy, realistic fiction, mystery/adventure, graphic novels, science fiction and horror stories are placed in different sets of tables. Students move to the different genres and spend about 10 minutes reading books in the different sections. They fill out a questionnaire and decide which genre they like and give at least 2 reasons why.

Mini Authors

Students wrote stories and published them in creative explosion books.

World Peace Day messages

Students learn to express their thoughts and feelings by writing them as messages.

Literary Jengga – Learning literature with a twist.

In Jengga, tiles are arranged in a tower. The tiles are then pulled out of the ‘tower’ ensuring it doesn’t fall. In literary jengga, Form 5 students incorporated the game with the novel they studied for the SPM examination. Each tile is numbered and the number corresponds to a question. When a student pulls out a tile, he/she needs to write the question and then answer the question (based on the novel) in their exercise books. This enhances their understanding of the novel.

Lap Book Report Project

The form 2 students have learned the conventions of writing a report through a Lap Book Report project. A lap book report is an informational report that discusses a book from an objective stance. It includes flaps, pictures, text and folded display material creatively arranged in a cardboard folder.

For the topic, My City, for Standard 3, students learn the structures, buildings and the facilities needed in a city. The project is to create their ideal city with all the facilities they feel are important.

Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition 2020 – Our students who did us proud!

The Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition is the world’s oldest schools’ international writing competition, managed by The Royal Commonwealth Society since 1883. This prestigious competition draws thousands of participants aged between 12 to 18 years every year. The theme for 2020 was – ‘Climate Action in the Commonwealth’. A total of 12 students took part and four of them received awards for their writing. The English Department is extremely proud of them. We hope that more students will take part this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic came upon us – bringing along with it lots of uncertainties, confusion and insecurities. It had a profound and sudden impact on many areas of life; work, leisure time and family alike. These changes also affected educational processes in formal and informal learning environments. Teachers had to switch from traditional in-class settings to online learning and had to develop methods to engage students in learning.

With the Movement Control Order that disrupted our lives and pushed the medical and security forces to the forefront, the English Department together with some very talented and committed students presented a song “We are Warriors” to the frontliners in June 2020 as a tribute to them. We really appreciate these great students for their show of compassion to our front liners. Click here to watch.

Activities in 2021 – the year that is

For 2021, the English Department has planned another ‘book tasting’ event with The Newspapers In Education (NIE) week, plus the Harry Potter Games among others. It is our hope that we will continue to strive to vary our approaches to teaching the English language and motivate the students to learn it and use it with confidence in their daily lives.

The English Department of our Private School will continue to work hard and move with the demands of the current situation to encourage our students to be able to express their views and ideas as confident, independent users of the English Language. As digital teaching is still emerging, the teachers are looking at digital projects to keep the students motivated and interested to learn English.

Josephine Leela V Damodaram has taught English for more than 30 years. She was a Negeri Sembilan state trainer to train teachers of English at state level for more than 7 years. Experienced team leader for examiner for SPM English paper, she has written 2 workbooks for SPM English. She is a recipient of the Hyacinth Gaudart Award for innovative English teacher 2004. She has also presented papers in national & international TESL conferences.