NiE workshops in Johor sponsored by a conglomerate opens door to endless teaching possibilities with the newspaper.
WE come across great ideas and methodologies all the time. But how often do we actually put them into practice?
“You need the experience!” is something that you may hear some say when encouraging a friend or employee to learn a new skill or take on a responsibility.
Truly, the best way to learn something is by doing it, which is why the Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) programme strongly focuses on experiential learning.
Star-NiE workshops are often a refreshing delight to teacher participants as they assume the role of students in an NiE session for a few hours.
That was the scenario at a recent NiE workshop held at SK Taman Megah Ria, Johor.
“We want to teach you how to use the newspapers effectively in the classroom. For this, you need the hands-on experience.
“Consider yourselves very lucky to have been selected because not all teachers get this opportunity. And I hope you will be able to go back to your schools and share what you learnt here,” said Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer Shyamala Sankaran to 40 secondary and primary English school teachers from schools in the Pasir Gudang district.
These schools are recipients of the NiE and Step Up pullouts sponsored by PPB Group Berhad.
This Malaysian diversified conglomerate which engages in food production, agriculture, waste management, film distribution, property investment and development is a supporter of Star Media Group’s English for Better Opportunites (EBO) project, a multi-level platform aimed at making immersive driven English language programmes interactive, fun and accessible to all levels of society.
Ngui Sui Yang from SMK Pasir Putih liked the fact that he actually got to try the activities.
“It really makes a big difference. By doing the activities, you not only understand potential difficulties students will face but also how to improve on them.
“I thought the workshop was very unique and interactive. I’ve been looking for ways to try different things and today’s workshop was an eye-opener to the many things I can do with just a copy of the newspaper,” he said.
He said that the workshop lent many new ideas when it came to teaching methods.
“I can actually apply the activities without much modifications. In this workshop alone we’ve learnt about seven different activities. On top of that, we got a booklet on the many different ways to utilise the newspaper.”
“The speaker herself has a lot of knowledge. She has relevant experience to share with us. The way she describes her experience is similar to what I encounter in class,” he added.
When Elaine Yong Fong Le saw other participants cutting the newspapers for an activity, it dawned on her that she had never thought of using the newspaper that way.
“It’s really interesting! With the newspaper, you can physically cut and paste the material. Now we may have digital materials but not everyone can afford a tablet in class – and you would need wifi too. The newspaper is cheap and everyone gets to use it,” said the SMK Pasir Gudang 2 teacher.
“This is my first time attending an NiE workshop. I’ve always heard about it, but never got to attend one. “The workshop was very fun because we got to do lots of group activities and experience it first-hand for ourselves.
“Books are very topical. The way the newspaper interrelates between different topics makes it very practical to students. And with the NiE, every component becomes classroom-friendly.
“I’ll definitely be using the newspapers soon! I think the newspaper would be a good supplement for the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) non-textbook lessons,” she added.
Amanda Sunitha Navaratnam from SMK Permas Jaya 2 admitted that she does not read an actual newspaper often.
“It would be something out of the ordinary if I came to class with a stack of newspapers. It is possible that some of my students have not seen a newspaper before.
“I think it would be interesting and it would get my students to focus. Moreover, the activities are very hands-on,” she said.
Through the workshop, Amanda realised that there was so much one can do with newspapers.
“The workshop opened my eyes to how I can potentially use the newspaper in class. The workshop showed me different possibilities as to how I can adopt and adapt materials for my class,” she said.
English language officer Kumaran Apala Naidu of the Pasir Gudang District Education Office said that students in the 21st century classroom need to connect learning with their environment.
“And the newspaper is the perfect material! The newspaper is all about what’s happening around them.
“The NiE pullout encourages students to come up with their own ideas. Current issues will prompt them to give their opinions.
“Teachers too need exposure like NiE workshops. These kinds of courses give them new ideas, and the newspaper activities are suited to primary and secondary schools.
“I like the NiE programme because of the commitment given by The Star to make sure that the benefits taper down to the students. With the pullouts, they have made the newspaper easy to use and the activities match the syllabus. Furthermore, the activities are very easy to adapt,” he added.
The NiE pullout, which comes with a copy of the newspaper every Wednesday, features syllabus-based topics for students in elementary, intermediate and advanced levels.
With 33 issues per year, it provides creative ideas and ready-made activities to make language learning exciting and different for students.
The Step Up pullout, made for national and Chinese primary schools, features Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia translation of words.
With 17 issues per year, the version with the Bahasa Malaysia translation is published on alternate Tuesdays while the one with Chinese translation comes out on alternate Thursdays.
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