Giving pupils a language boost

Year Six pupils of SK Bandar Sri Damansara 3 having fun during a class session with the Step Up pullout.

Year Six pupils of SK Bandar Sri Damansara 3 having fun during a class session with the Step Up pullout.

SOMETIMES, only a little nudge is needed to see resourcefulness and creativity in children shine.

With a dustpan handle as his walking stick, a Year Six pupil of SK Bandar Sri Damansara 3, Kuala Lumpur, fitted perfectly into his role in a short skit as a blind man trying to cross the road. Meanwhile, his partner demonstrated a courtesy when one encounters such a situation. The scenario was required during an English class activity supplemented by Step Up, an education pullout by The Star.

Hands shot up when English teacher Gomathi Gopalakrishnan asked class year Six Mutiara: “Okay, who wants to be the old lady for the next role play?”

Many of the pupils were vying to have a shot at the activity. Gomathi said that she introduced Step Up last year.

“When I say that I am using Step Up, there is a positive reaction from them. They find it fun because it is colourful and a fun way to learn English.

“I think that having a love for English is very important. This way, they are continuously motivated to learn for themselves. Then when they go for higher education, they will have basic English skills and be confident when learning,” she said.

Step Up is a colourful 24-page workbook-cum-activity pullout designed to help pupils in Years Four, Five and Six prepare for the UPSR examination.

The teacher said the number of As for writing and comprehension increased from the previous year.

“At the moment, Step Up is compulsory for all Year Six pupils. We want to include all Year Five pupils as well. It helps pupils master reading and writing. It adds greatly to their vocabulary and they, basically, become more knowledgeable.”

Language is usually not the only element taught during English lessons. This particular issue of the pullout focused on the themes: Time is Precious, Good Manners and Making Decisions, which are found in the national syllabus for Years Four, Five and Six, respectively.

Year Six pupil Muhammad Iskandar Affendy said that he learnt about manners and that time should not be wasted from this issue of Step Up.

“Step Up is fun to do, and the mini dictionary feature helps with my spelling. I like reading the short stories. I sometimes read the newspaper that comes with Step Up,” he said.

Understanding the importance of English, he said that knowing the language enables him to communicate with a lot of people. “A lot of information on the Internet is also in English.”

Year Six pupil Vishant Permal said: “Step Up is fun and interesting. We learn how to express our feelings to people.”

“Meanings to difficult words are given in the mini dictionary and this helps me learn new words. Even when I play online games, the instructions are in English,” he said.

Classmate Nasreen Mohd Naveed enjoys Step Up as it includes fun riddles and puzzles.

“I love reading. With English, I can read many books,” she said.

“I will need English in tertiary education. Being able to communicate in English also helps me feel more confident.”

Gomathi said that having the newspaper cultivates a reading habit because they are provided with materials to read. “So it is very good that the newspaper comes with Step Up.”

“Children these days seem to lack general knowledge. So when they read the newspaper, they know what is happening in and out of the country.

The price is reasonable – plus there is a free gift.”

School headmistress Rozaini Md Zain felt that the content in Step Up helps pupils be more creative. “We want to expand the pupils’ minds beyond what is available in the textbook, and Step Up helps pupils become better at writing.”

“The children like it very

much. Since it comes with the newspaper, it indirectly encourages reading and adds to their knowledge.

“Teachers, too, like using it. Step Up makes the teacher’s work easier, for sure. They don’t have to source for materials – it’s all there. The teachers can also adapt the activities to suit their classes.

“I would recommend this pullout to other teachers.”

Step Up features Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese translation 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 syllabus-based pullout is endorsed by the Education Ministry.

By Emily Chan
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