Teachers put their ideas and creativity to good use by using the newspaper as a teaching and learning tool.
STIFLING their laughter as they swatted each other with newspapers, the primary school English teachers were clearly having fun. But they weren’t fooling around. In fact, they were doing exactly what their trainer required – which was to let their inner child out.
The teachers took away numerous newspaper activity ideas for the classroom at the NiE (Newspaper-in-Education) workshop held at Menara Star, Petaling Jaya. It was held in collaboration with the Selangor State and Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory Education Departments and the Institute of Teacher Education, International Languages Campus, Kuala Lumpur, to mark Star-NiE’s 20th anniversary. The NiE workshops will be held until September for primary and secondary school teachers in the Klang Valley.
The workshop was conducted by The Star’s NiE consultant trainer Lucille Dass. Having had experience in teaching both primary and secondary school students, Dass understood challenges faced by primary school teachers. She highlighted the role played by primary school teachers.
“All of you are very important because you lay the foundation in pupils. It should be called sekolah asas instead of sekolah rendah.”
She shared that Asas which means “foundation” and the early schooling years are a crucial period for children as this is when they develop solid fundamentals in literacy and mathematics and also engage with others socially and emotionally.
There was much excitement as teachers performed hands-on NiE activities.
“I enjoyed the activities; I’m sure my pupils will enjoy them, too!” said English teacher Ooi Ee Lynn who teaches pupils in Years One and Three at SJK (C) Kg Baru Semenyih, Selangor.
“It’s the first time I’m attending an NiE workshop. This workshop is different from other workshops for teachers. And I think these kinds of activities are important to motivate our pupils and make lessons fun.”
She explained that most of her pupils did not come from English-speaking families. “It’s challenging because when I speak, they don’t understand me. Sometimes, I have to use Mandarin to explain, but I use less of the language as they progress.
“I think the NiE activities are very useful. I can actually apply them with my pupils. The activities also fit the themes in the textbook,” she added.
Another participant Mohammad Muzzammil Mohammad Amin from SK Batu Sembilan recalled participating in an NiE contest when he was a student about 10 years ago.
“We were required to create our entry in class. The reward was a motivating factor for me to complete the job at hand.”
Currently teaching Year One pupils, he said that it was a challenging task.
“Some don’t even know the letters of the alphabet, so I would have to start from scratch.
“In this workshop, I learnt some activities that I can use with my pupils who prefer to move around instead of sitting and that would make them more excited about learning English.”
“They are still very young and would have no reason to read the newspaper. The NiE activities are a good way to introduce an English daily to them,” he added.
Also attending an NiE workshop for the first time was SK Putra Heights 2 English panel head Jalaja Krishnan Balakrishnan who said that she was amazed by the activities.
“Wow, creative and easy to do! Using the newspaper will definitely make our lives easier. The newspaper is quality material. Teachers don’t have to stay up late to plan for the next day’s lesson because everything is already there. The pupils’ standard of English will also improve because language used in the newspaper becomes the benchmark.”
“Everything that I’ve learnt in this workshop is in line with what the Education Ministry wants. The NiE activities take 10 to 20 minutes so it can be easily incorporated into class lessons. and it adds variety to what we do in class,” she said.
For Jalaja, the workshop did more than just impart teaching ideas.
“The speakers were passionate about the teaching profession. They were not just delivering a workshop but instilling motivation in us teachers. Simply marvellous!”
Institute of Teacher Education, International Languages Campus, Kuala Lumpur, lecturer Manoharan Nalliah wrapped up the session with a talk on how the newspapers are a good resource for the classroom. He also spoke on how to overcome challenges when implementing newspaper activities.
He also brought along teacher trainees, Malkiet Singh and Serdev Singh, who conducted an NiE session at SK Petaling 1 during their practicum, to share a fresh take on NiE.
Malkiet Singh said: “What we found was that language comes in a myriad of forms. We have language for politics, business and science. Each of these fields has its own lexis, and all that is encapsulated in the newspaper.
“The newspaper is all about sharing details about an event. So language used by writers at The Star is highly narrative. Furthermore, words are also used in context,” he added.
Another workshop was held for secondary school teachers the next day.
Although it took more than two hours for Liew Siau Wei from SMK Pulau Ketam to get to Menara Star, it wasn’t all in vain. She said that she liked the activities that were taught.
“I prefer activities that require students to work in groups and be involved. Most of our students are from vernacular primary schools. Although their proficiency is low, we can adapt some of the activities.”
She explained that the students from her school start working and earning from the time they are eight years old.
“Some don’t see the importance of education. So if teachers were to use the usual method of teaching, they would find it boring.”
Mohd Farouk Shah Harun from SMK Bukit Tinggi Klang said: “English is not just about writing essays and doing grammar exercises. Students learn about real life issues, apart from learning the language. We should make English fun and not be afraid if the class is noisy!”
The teachers are required to try the NiE activities with their students. They are invited to come back for a feedback session later to share their experience.