NiE kickstarts its first issue right with apt and engaging activities.
IT was week two of the new school term when English teacher Ravina Devi Rathakrishna asked class Form Four Science Zhong of Chong Hwa Independent High School, Kuala Lumpur, how well they knew their classmates.
Some gave an outright “no”, while a few others were confident they knew each and every member in their class of 50 students.
Either way, the lesson that their teacher had in store for them was set to bring down any barriers that they had.
Taken from the very first issue of the Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout by The Star, which rolled out on January 17, the activity was well-timed and suited to the enthusiastic students.
The activity revolved around the topic of getting to know oneself.
You may “click” with some better than the others, they learnt. It all depended on one’s personality traits; whether or not they complement each other. Personality, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary, meant the combination or qualities that form an individual’s distinct character.
As students stood up in attempts to sum themselves up in three words, the class was punctuated with laughter and applause, clearly very taken by their friends’ honest self-descriptions.
Intelligent, hardworking, humble, charming – these were traits that they learnt about each other, and also adjectives that were added to their vocabulary that day.
Published every Wednesday, the Star-NiE pullout injects fun English language learning by incorporating engaging, hands-on activities.
The pullout is syllabus-based and tackles themes set by the Education Ministry.
With authentic material from The Star newspaper, it bridges the gap between classroom lessons and the real world.
Teacher Ravina Devi, who is also the Form Four coordinator for the English department, said that using the pullout is as easy as it gets.
“The activities are categorised for students of different proficiency levels – elementary, intermediate and advanced. Teachers need only choose the activities suitable for their students.”
“Plus, the NiE activities tackles the skills that teachers hope to achieve – whether it’s the 21st century Higher Order Thinking Skills or the synthesising skill from Bloom’s taxonomy,” she added.
Having witnessed the benefits from using the pullout over the years, English department head Tan Choon Moi said that the school has committed to monthly subscriptions to provide all students with copies of the NiE this year.
This move aims to boost English language proficiency as well as reading habits among students.
It is now compulsory for all students of Chong Hwa Independent High School to have a copy of the NiE pullout in hand on a given Wednesday each month.
Each class also has access to a copy of the newspaper from Monday to Friday.
The school’s current subscription is about 6,900 copies per month.
Tan noted that the students loved using the pullout.
“NiE activities lets students learn beyond the language. We want students to learn English not just for the purpose of sitting for tests.”
She also said that the newspaper is the best teaching material.
“Students gain a lot of knowledge and wisdom from reading the newspaper. It widens their world view and they are in touch with what’s happening around them.
“Furthermore, the newspaper has a variety of topics – students are bound to find something that interests them. And aside from being one of the cheapest reading materials, it is also one of the most informative and current,” she addded.
English department Form One coordinator Ratinamala Kanaga Sundaram said that NiE takes the stress off teachers and students alike.
“The newspaper can turn a serious class into a more relaxing one. Students have fun doing group activities and interacting with friends.
“For teachers, it is fairly simple as everything is provided. We need only allocate the right amount of time and ensure that they have enough materials.”
Commenting on the NiE session, student Soo Chu Yin said that while she found it easy to describe other people, she couldn’t say the same when it came to describing herself.
“It’s much harder to stand up and describe yourself to the whole class, especially when I don’t know everyone that well yet.
“It was a good way to force us to take stock of our good and negative traits,” she said.
Classmate Liv Tan Ker Jin said: “I liked the fact that we got to know ourselves and each other better. It is definitely different from doing exercises from the textbook.
“There are also many activities in the pullout that involve using the newspaper. To accomplish them, we would have to read a lot so it would encourage us to read more,” she said.
Another student, Law Hai Yun noted that the NiE activities encourage group work, which she enjoys doing.
“We cooperate with each other to accomplish task work – this will help us with our communication skills. Also, we learn how to express ourselves.”
Agreeing, Clement Teh feels that working in a group is generally more fun.
“When you work with others, you can get feedback on your opinions. Plus, we don’t have to worry so much about being wrong as there is always back up!”
Fong Qi Hua too felt that the proactive learning in the NiE session was much better than the usual chalk and talk.
“We get to learn from each other as we listen to other people’s perspectives.
“With the newspaper, we also stay abreast on what’s happening around the world and in Malaysia,” he added.
With 33 issues per year, the NiE pullout provides creative ideas for interactive learning.
The pullout also features BRATs, a section dedicated to all things that make teens tick.
Earn your band 6 replaces BRATs once every third issue. This section is aimed at improving the English proficiency of those taking the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).
Subscription to the NiE pullout is through schools only.
For more information, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1 300 88 7827 from Monday to Friday (9am–5pm).
Did you find this article insightful?