IT IS a wonder how choral speaking has brought about improvements in language proficiency and confidence in some students at SMK St Mary.
Those who were shy and weak in the language, are now speaking English confidently and have become good orators, thanks to their own hours of practice and hard work.
There have been glowing testimonies of how the activity has helped boost their confidence and personality.
“Taking part in choral speaking has allowed me to speak clearly in English and broadened my understanding of different words and ideas,’’ said student Syarifah Nur Anisah Syed Mohd Amin.
“I have also noticed that some of my classmates are not as shy after their active involvement in choral speaking sessions,” she said. Her class — Form Four Science 1 — represented SMK St Mary at the Sentul Zone Inter School Choral Speaking Competition and were placed second.
The school was also the host of the competition and its team had chosen to speak on the subject of teenagers and the Internet, said Syarifah Nur Anisah.
Her classmate Daniela Preeti Kaur said students needed to be expressive using a range of voices and expressions when performing.
It is through activities like this that many students eventually overcome their shyness, she added.
“Many of our friends who are reserved now seem to be confident and outspoken,” said Daniela.
Fellow classmate Chan Xin Thong said the class practised hard for the inter-school choral speaking competition. She said her class emerged the champion after competing with other classes to represent SMK St Mary.
Tan Siok Leh, one of the teachers in charge, said the students stayed back after school to practise.
“Towards the last week, they rehearsed every day including Saturdays,” she said.
Syarifah Nur Anisah summed it well by saying that “as a St Marian, we always strive for the best”.
Choral speaking competitions are organised by the Education Ministry to encourage and increase the usage of English among students.
It also builds their confidence when speaking and expressing themselves in the global language.
In a tribute to their beloved Bukit Bintang Girls School (BBGS) principal Elena Cooke who passed away on May 2, thespian Sandra Sodhy, television and radio personality Norina Yahya, Women’s Aid Organisation committee member Meera Samanther, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia honorary secretary Tunku Munawirah Putra and corporate trainer Kiang Faang Pyng got together to become judges for the inter school choral speaking competition.
“Ms Cooke who introduced choral speaking to BBGS would have been proud to see it spread to so many schools.
“It was a tradition that every class in BBGS participate in the activity,” said Kiang who was also the chief judge.
To further develop the activity, she advised students to connect with the audience.
“You must remember that you are not speaking to yourselves. Enunciation and voice projection must be clear,” she said.
Kiang also advised the students to be passionate and enthusiastic when taking part in choral speaking.
“Don’t just sway your bodies. Your faces must come alive, share your enthusiasm for what you are saying and smile at the audience,” she added.
Choosing the subject matter is also very important, she said, adding that it must be creative.
Students need to familiarise themselves with the competition and judging rules as they were equally important, she said.
SM Sains Puteri won the competition while SMK Convent Sentul came in third.
Fourth former Amira Mohd Saleh from SM Sains Puteri said she and her fellow participants were very excited over their victory.
“We never expected it. Our school exams are on at the moment, so, we have had to juggle our studies with practising for the choral speaking competition at the same time,” she said.
First former Pavithra Nair Rajith from SMK Convent Sentul received the trophy on her school’s behalf from Sentul district education office deputy education officer Mohamad Saadon Haron. Each member of the winning teams also received a trophy.
SMK Convent Sentul student Jaskiran Kaur was elated, saying that the school’s team had practised everyday. “We practised everyday. Taking part in choral speaking has improved our English proficiency,” she said.
The students performed the Convent Sentul Cheer when it was announced that the school had been placed third.
Their principal Tan Tee Hwa was just as happy and excited as her students, saying that they had worked hard for the competition.