Sports school’s English carnival

Good advice: Mallika offers some pointers during an activity with students.

An NiE workshop attracts a large number of enthusiastic participants eager to hone their language skills.

IN a select school where future athletes are groomed, its scholars are a picture of fitness and athletic refinement.

So, when a group of its male students were asked to read a passage as if they were giggly teenage girls (in front of 60 other students), laughter resounded in the room.

Nonetheless, the group, aptly named The Champions, “performed” well and came out tops in a creative reading competition during a Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop.

The workshop, held by The Star, was part of an English Carnival at the Bukit Jalil Sports School in Kuala Lumpur.

The carnival was funded by the Fully Residential and Excellence School Management Division of the Education Ministry.

It was initiated by former track queen Datuk Marina Chin who is also the school’s principal.

Apart from the NiE workshop, other activities on offer included Scrabble, The 80s Karaoke, English telematch, Spin me a tale and Snakes and ladders.

Never a dull moment: A game of Snakes & Ladders, with a twist, at the carnival.
Never a dull moment: A game of Snakes & Ladders, with a twist, at the carnival.

Hosted by the Bukit Jalil Sports School, workshop participants came from SMK USJ 12, Selangor, SMK Infant Jesus Convent, Malacca, SMK Raja Perempuan Ipoh, Perak, SMK Seri Ampangan, Negri Sembilan, and Convent Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur.

Mohamad Amirul Zainal Abidin, a Form Two student from the Bukit Jalil Sports School and a member of team The Champions, said that he enjoyed the NiE activities.

“We can have fun doing the activities in teams while improving our command of the English language and learning many new words at the same time,” he said.

Abbygail Ong, 14, of SMK Convent Bukit Nanas, said the NiE workshop she participated in was fun.

“I made new friends. We learnt how to work together as a team and the activities helped widen my English vocabulary.”

Abbygail, who was experiencing NiE for the first time, said that if these activities were incorporated into class lessons, she would find learning more enjoyable.

“Overall, it was a good experience,” she said.

Her schoolmate, Yeung Yeu-Mynn, who is also in Form Two, said that the activities at the NiE sessions encouraged students to learn English.

“They enable participants to socialise with each other. When they do so, they get to practise speaking English, as well as learn how to work together.”

From SMK Infant Jesus, Malacca, Shasmin Roy, a Form One student, noted that the activities at the NiE workshop were fun and different.

“The pullout is attractive to students. Compared to textbook learning, this is livelier.”

She added that the English Carnival allowed students to interact and meet new people.

The workshop was conducted by freelance Star-NiE trainer, Mallika Vasugi.

She noted that being sports school students, those at the Bukit Jalil Sports School were very much into physical activities.

“The NiE programme combines language learning with activities that involve a lot of moving around, so naturally, it would appeal to them,” she said.

Bukit Jalil Sports School English Carnival coordinator and English panel head (pre-university) Cecilia Ch’ng said that the school fully utilised the NiE pullout published every Wednesday.

“We conduct NiE activities during our two-period English sessions, and we also use some of the activities as pre-university assignments and as enrichment projects.

“It is one permanent activity that we have as part of our class lessons as the students enjoy the sessions and they look forward to them.

“The activities are refreshing and different from textbook exercises. These students are usually tired after their daily physical exercises and NiE is a good way to get them interested in class,” she said.

Ch’ng also said that NiE encourages the students to read.

“When they skim through the newspaper, they benefit by learning about current issues.

“Plus, the pullout is activity-based and fun.

“It caters to all students. Even the ones in the upper forms enjoy the activities.

“When they go through the paper as a group, conversations take place when they voice their opinions.”

Chin said that the NiE programme makes English language learning more interesting.

“It’s a fun way to learn English and involves activities. Most of the students here have kinaesthetic intelligence, so sitting and listening to the teacher may be quite boring. It is an alternative way to learn and it seems to be effective.”

Chin also noted that it is important for future athletes to master the English language as they will be representing the nation and travelling for international events.

“English is not only useful at airport immigration or customs, but also when it comes to understanding referees at sports meets because, most of the time, English is the lingua franca used for these competitions.

“Knowing English would also enable the students to improve themselves by looking up information on sports science online.

“About 80% of the information is in English, so if our students don’t master the language, they will lose out,” she said.

“I hope people will look at English as something for self-improvement and feel the need to master it,” she added.

“It will definitely help one to become more marketable in the working world.”

For enquiries on NiE packages, contact The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 03-7967 1777, between 9am and 5pm from Monday to Friday. Be sure to ask about our school discounts and packages. This programme is available through school subscriptions only.

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