Stepping up English usage

Excited to learn: Year Five pupils of SK Sungai Buloh getting a sneak peek at the first issue of ‘Step Up’ 2019. With them are Nurhafizah (far right) and Dansen (far left).

Excited to learn: Year Five pupils of SK Sungai Buloh getting a sneak peek at the first issue of ‘Step Up’ 2019. With them are Nurhafizah (far right) and Dansen (far left).

PETALING JAYA: In environments where English is not the main mode of communication, learning the language is mostly confined to English lessons in school.

SK Sungai Buloh, Selangor, sandwiched between urban and non-urban communities, has a majority of pupils from Malay-speaking families.

Its headmaster Ab Halid Zakaria understands that language learning extends beyond classroom walls.

“When learning English, you cannot just rely on lessons in school.

“The culture of speaking English has to start from home. We felt that this culture is lacking.”

With this in mind, the school saw the Step Up education pullout by The Star as a good fit to bridge this learning gap.

The pullout, which comes with a copy of The Star newspaper, is a 24-page workbook and activity book for pupils in Years Four, Five and Six.

“So, when pupils take an English daily home, parents would realise that this language learning is not just confined to schools,” he added.

At SK Sungai Buloh, the school’s administration believes that a three-way relationship between pupils, teachers and parents is an important aspect in encouraging academic growth at the school.

Ab Halid noted: “When we introduced the Step Up pullout to some parents at a recent meeting, they felt that the package was worth their money as it comes with attractive free gifts.

“We are planning for all students to opt for the free grammar book so that teachers will be able to use them in class.

“Last year, all Year Six pupils subscribed to Step Up.

“Seeing the benefits from using the pullouts, we made it compulsory for pupils in Years Four, Five and Six to subscribe this year.

“The pullout is suitable for our pupils – the exercises are neither too difficult nor are they too easy.

“They help our pupils master grammar,” he added.

Agreeing, English panel head Nurhafizah Yaacob said: “One positive impact that I can see is that more pupils are actually speaking English at school.

“At home, most pupils have limited English language materials to read.

“So when they bring an English newspaper back home, their parents and siblings can also use it.

“It really makes a difference.”

Nurhafizah said parents had their doubts about subscribing to Step Up last year.

“This year, even though they have two children attending SK Sungai Buloh, parents prefer that each child own a copy of the Step Up pullout.”

This shift has resulted in SK Sungai Buloh increasing its subscription for its pupils from 110 copies in 2018 to 312 copies this year.

“We love Step Up because the answers are at the back, so if parents can’t help with grammar, they can always check the answers.

“It is good as a Self Assessment Learning (SAL) tool.”

The lucky pupils in class Year Five Sinar had a sneak peek at the first issue of Step Up for 2019, which rolls out tomorrow.

Nurhafizah and English teacher Sean Dansen conducted a lesson using the pullout that had pupils clamouring to give their answers.

Step Up features Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese translations of difficult English words.

The version with the Bahasa Malaysia translation is published on alternate Tuesdays while the version with Chinese translation comes out on alternate Thursdays.

The colourful syllabus-based content tackles themes set by the Education Ministry and helps prepare pupils for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

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