FORM five students sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination in 2016 will need to pass the English Language paper in order to secure the SPM certificate.
In the past, students who failed the English Language paper got their SPM certificate because the English Language subject was not a compulsory pass subject.
But students who fail the English Language paper from next year will not get their SPM certificate.
And judging from the past SPM English Language results, there is a fear that 20% to 30% of students may fail the SPM because of the English Language Paper.
In order to address this failure rate, the Education Ministry has mobilised the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) in Enstek, Nilai, Negri Sembilan to draw up programmes for Forms Four and Five secondary school English teachers to meet the 2016 pass requirements.
First, the ELTC research staff identified the secondary schools in the country which have scored low grades in the English Language in past SPM examinations. These schools were labelled as “hot spot schools”.
There were over a 1,000 “hot spot” schools in the country where the majority of students’ marks ranged from 30% to 40% in English Language.
The students in these schools can be helped to pass the English Language paper.
The ELTC lecturers have started on an ambitious and dynamic School Support Plan for the English Language teachers in these “hot spot” schools around the nation.
ELTC has drawn up several proactive measures to upgrade the teaching and learning of the English Language in these secondary schools.
The School Support Plan for the teachers specifically targets the SPM English Language Paper 1. The SPM English Language Paper 1 has two sections, namely Section A – Directed Writing (35 marks) and Section B – Continuous Writing (50 marks).
The Directed Writing question has notes and the students have to elaborate and expand the notes. Thirty-five marks are given for the question of which 20 marks are solely for the language used.
The Continuous Writing question is an essay question where students have to select one out of five titles given and write about 350 words on the title. Marking is given solely for the language used.
Both the writing questions require students to write comprehensible English language output.
And writing has been the reason why most students fare badly in the English language Paper 1.
Most students have difficulty stringing words to construct simple correct English sentences to form a writing piece. Most students in “hot spot” schools were unable to elaborate and expand on the given notes to write meaningful sentences.
Most of the sentences from the students had grammatical and non grammatical errors. And it was these errors that caused students to fare poorly in their writing.
Therefore teachers who came to the workshop were equipped with the students’ writing pieces in both the Directed Writing and the Continuous Writing question.
In the workshop, the teachers were asked to identify the errors or ‘gaps’ in the writing of the students and to categorise the errors.
There was an emerging pattern of errors or gaps in the students’ writing. Most students had similar errors or gaps in the writing.
Among the more common errors in student’s writing were Subject Verb Agreement, Simple Past Tense (regular or irregular verbs), punctuations, spelling and wrong word or repetition (due to limited vocabulary).
Then using the student performance data (errors or gaps), the teachers designed suitable enrichment and remedial lessons to remedy the errors or gaps.
The teachers were trained to “treat” the student errors through appropriate pedagogical interventions.
By treating and correcting the students’ writing errors, teachers were reducing the probability of students making the same errors in their language.
And this would invariably raise the marks of the SPM English language Paper 1 and would enable students who are in the 30 to 40 marks range to score above 50. These are not students who cannot write English at all. They can write some English.
By identifying their writing weaknesses, they can be “corrected” through meaningful interventions.
Students’ errors or gaps in writing are a powerful source that can help teachers provide students with support that enables them to overcome their errors.
Students come to the class with different levels of knowledge mastery, skills and processes required to achieve SPM exam success in the English paper.
ELTC teaching staff have raised this awareness through the workshop, and it is up to the teachers in the “hot spot” schools to consolidate and implement the remedial teaching with their students.
This is ELTC’s brain child to ensure that these “hot spot” schools achieve the compulsory pass in the English language in the SPM examination from next year.
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