Broadening horizons with English

  • Education
  • Sunday, 19 Aug 2018

Pupils of SK St Andrew, Muar, Johor, engaging in an activity during an NiE workshop sponsored by PPB Berhad.

Newspaper activities provide students’ with skills to face the world

THE world may very well revolve around school and family when we are young. But as we grow older, we would eventually have to venture out and communicate in a language that is common to many people.

The Thai boys trapped in the Tham Luang caves of northern Thailand faced this predicament when the multinational rescue team communicated with them in English.

“This was a good example of how you never really know when you would need English. It can be a make or break situation,” said Muar district English language officer (primary school) Chew Ai Theng during a Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop at SMK St Andrew in Muar, Johor.

“They knew how to answer questions from the rescue team and this played a part in the success of the rescue mission,” she said, highlighting the importance of English proficiency.

She said that the main challenge in English lessons is to make learning meaningful and purposeful to the students.

“And I think using the newspaper can do just that.”

“The NiE pullouts not only help students with exams but also, more importantly, with daily situations. I would say that it’s a great tool to inculcate values in the kids. The questions stimulate students to think and come up with their own opinions.”

“Teachers have a misconception that newspapers are tough for students to tackle. The NiE pullouts provide a guide for them. It is a rich visual aid and is in line with the syllabus. I think the newspaper is a really good resource,” she added.

Meanwhile, students from Forms One and Three of SMK St Andrew had a ball at an NiE activity that required them to create jingles promoting cars, mobile phones and hypermarkets.

The session, conducted by Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer Shyamala Sankaran, was designed to engage students in English language learning with the help of The Star newspaper.

Form Three student Arvinesh Varma said that he was quite taken with the activities. “Who knows – the jingle activity may inspire one of us to become a music composer one day.

“I’ve never attended a workshop like this. It is fun and I look forward to doing such activities in class. “We learnt how to collaborate in a team and how to communicate with others.

“I think these are important skills to learn in school. In class, we study according to what’s in our textbooks. “Here, we learn according to current issues and general knowledge.”

Schoolmate Lim Chang Wei who is in Form One enjoyed his very first NiE workshop.

“I got to know new friends as well as new words! I think if you enjoy yourself during lessons, you will learn more. The activities were not stressful and there was no pressure involved,” he said.

Chang Wei said that he usually reads the Chinese daily so this would be one of the few times he has flipped through an English one.

“I think that it is good to read the newspaper as you get stories from all over the world. English is also a very useful language as we use it to communicate with people from other countries.”

Agreeing, 13-year-old Jasraj Singh said that it is important to understand English if you plan to study overseas.

“Science is in English and the body of knowledge is largely written in English too,” said the aspiring earth scientist.

“This is my first time experiencing NiE activities. It was interesting and fun, and I really enjoyed it.

“I like the fact that we got to work together with peers and I got to know friends even better,” he said.

Teacher Umaiyal Muthusamy who has 26 years of teaching English under her belt is familiar with the benefits of utilising the newspaper for lessons.

“I have been using the newspapers in classes even before being introduced to the NiE programme. When you teach students using passages from worksheets, you are only given a limited vocabulary. But with the newspaper, there is a wealth of words we can make use of. Students definitely learn more with newspapers.

“On top of that, it also makes work easier for teachers. We have so many articles to choose from and we don’t have to create something from scratch. The activities accomplish our learning outcomes and I hope all English teachers realise that the newspaper is a good learning resource.”

The school is a recipient of the NiE 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 Opportunities (EBO) project.

The group is sponsoring the NiE pullouts to 39 other schools located in Johor.

Under this programme, the group is also working closely with The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education programme to sponsor four NiE workshops for teachers and students.

EBO is a multi-level platform aimed at making immersive driven English language programmes interactive, fun and accessible to all levels of society.

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.

For details on the Star-NiE school sponsorship programme, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1 300 88 7827 from Monday to Friday (9am–5pm).

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Education , Muar; NiE


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