STUDENTS in a Sabah school are being motivated to improve their English language skills, thanks to a cross-cultural penpal project initiated by the British Council’s English Language Teacher Development Project (ELTDP).
The ELTDP International Penpal Project 2014-2015 has seen an exchange of video and written messages between the Year Three students of SK Merotai Kecil in Tawau and the Polar class students of the Welcome English School in Lugo, Spain.
Penpal projects are a creative approach to help students gain new perspectives on learning English and other English-speaking cultures around the world.
Parents of the 28 students in SK Merotai Kecil got to learn more about this project at a presentation held at the school recently.
They also watched as their children wrote letters to their pen friends in Spain, and then cut them out and made colourful concertina cards that would be sent to the partner school in Spain.
SK Merotai Kecil head teacher Sapri Raupu encouraged the parents to help their children with homework and to be involved with school life.
Tawau Education Office English language officer Renaldo de los Santos spoke about the difficulties in English language learning, but touched on future prospects and the support structures that were in place to help the students.
He also encouraged parents and students to take every opportunity to practise speaking English daily and reminded them that it was something they could enjoy.
Also present at the event were the British Council’s Project Manager for East Sabah Rob Gordon, and ELTDP mentors Sarah Davies, Kyle McGee and Michael Molyneux.
The ELTDP forms part of the Malaysian Education Ministry’s Projek Penutur Jati Bahasa Inggeris project, which is part of the “Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English” programme.
Under the first phase, the British Council’s approach to the project focused on supporting Malaysian teachers to develop their own practice so that teachers take ownership of their professional development.
The second phase is focused on sustaining that professional growth.
The British Council is one of three contractors working on the programme in Malaysia, delivering across Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.
The ELTDP started in January 2011 and is now into its second phase. It works with some 2,000 teachers on one-to-one mentoring to help them explore and reflect on their own professional practice and develop new approaches for themselves.