Lending courage to those awkward teenage years


  • Education
  • Sunday, 21 Oct 2018

Students taking instructions from Wong during the confidence building workshop.

The debut of Star Media Group’s confidence building workshop with 16-year-olds spurs excitement

WINNING the coveted trophy for best participant in a recent confidence building workshop organised by Star Media Group came as no surprise to 16-year-old Suthan Ganeson.

“Yes! I am happy to win the award,” he said and with an assertion of pride, continued, “I deserved it.”

The student from SMK Taman Bukit Indah in Skudai, Johor, was a cut above his schoolmates throughout the session as he worked on verbal and physical activities to create awareness on poise and voice projection.

The four-hour session, sponsored by MagnumCares, the corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm of the Magnum Group, was recently conducted for 30 Form Four students of the school.

Suthan, like many others his age, enjoys a variety of activities outside of school. He fancies singing and dancing and is not shy to perform before an audience. You would think that a teenager with self-confidence coursing through his veins would not be in need of such training. Yet Suthan found that the session was able to unleash the absolute best in him.

 

One for the album as (third row, from left) Chang, Teo, Lim, Ovinis, Thajunisha and Wong pose for a photo with the students after the workshop.
One for the album as (third row, from left) Chang, Teo, Lim, Ovinis, Thajunisha and Wong pose for a photo with the students after the workshop.

“This workshop still helped me,” he said. “I learned how to stay focused, stand correctly and speak English without ‘shivering’ (shaking) from nervousness,” said the lad, whose mother tongue is Tamil. “Every school should have a workshop like this. It is really worthwhile.”

Having never experienced such a session, Suthan, who has ambitions to open his own restaurant some day, is appreciative of gaining tips and insights to boost his confidence levels – all while having a great time with his friends.

Fully aware that confidence levels affect learners’ abilities to perform roles and tasks and deal with situations, MagnumCares joined forces with Star Media Group to provide immersion programmes to young learners under its English for Better Opportunities (EBO) project. The objective: to enhance students’ abilities to read, write, speak and understand the English language in authentic settings.

Magnum Johor state manager Alan Lim, who was also present at the workshop, was pleased to see the students react positively to the session.

“The students were responsive to the trainer’s guidance, and were willing to correct their mistakes, and try again and again to do better and to meet the expectations of the trainer.

“At the end of the class, the students were able to pick up valuable ideas on building their self-confidence, which will certainly benefit them in the future,” he said. “I, too, learned from this class!” he added.

Teacher Thajunisha Alaudin who was present at the workshop was pleased to see the level of participation and interests of the students considering that English is not their mother tongue.

“The workshop was a great medium and an eye-opener for the students to showcase their talents when it came to spoken interaction. They were exemplary as young learners of a second language.

“The final presentation was amazing. I saw their effort right from the beginning when they were asked to prepare in small groups. They carried themselves very confidently although they were in the presence of the sponsors, who were total strangers to them,” said the English language teacher, who has been teaching for 14 years.

Thajunisha plans to encourage the students to take part in smaller group discussions in class.

“They perform better that way. They feel comfortable when using the language among their peers and do not bother too much about the mistakes they might make here and there,” she said.

Suthan’s schoolmates Iswan Edison, Kelly Ashley John Twinkle and Lau Wei Le were happy that they were selected for the workshop as they, too, had never experienced anything quite like it.

“This session has given me tips on how to be more confident, especially when speaking in front of the public,” said Iswan, who plays football in his free time. “I enjoyed the session very much.”

Two others who won prizes for the final skit performances were Kelly Ashley and Wei Le.

“As I am a prefect, this confidence building workshop has helped me with public speaking. I learned the importance of posture as this will show my confidence as a person,” said Kelly Ashley, who considers herself an extrovert. “This workshop has also made me braver!”

Her partner in the skit, Wei Le, on the other hand, said that he is on the opposite side of the spectrum.

“The workshop taught me how to catch the audience’s attention by speaking loudly and pronouncing my words clearly so that people would pay more attention to me when I speak,” said the shy student who plans to be in the medical line.

“This is good exposure for us; to be able to stand in class and speak up. When we go to university, we are expected to do more presentations like this – in English!” he quipped.

The workshop, that was conducted by trainer Zachary Wong, was the first confidence building session conducted under the flagship of EBO.

“Language is mainly about the ability to read, speak and converse with people constantly. With more practice, students’ confidence levels would definitely increase over time.

“We are basically giving the students a platform to speak more and the opportunity to master the language through daily, authentic usage,” said Wong.

Recognising that learners develop self-conscious feelings about using the English language with people who are fluent with it, MagnumCares tied up with EBO to sponsor The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NIE) workshops for students and teachers as well as this confidence building workshop.

MagnumCares has continually supported and encouraged academic excellence among students over the last 23 years by means of motivating students to strive for self-improvement through workshops such as these.

MagnumCares CSR and Public Affairs manager Eliza Chang Meei Lee said: “English is the official language in 70 countries, and English-speaking countries are responsible for about 40% of the world’s total GNP (Gross National Product).

“Our hope for the students is that such programmes will motivate them to learn and equip themselves with a better command of the English language as it will definitely help them to become more confident and to be able to communicate more effectively when dealing with people globally,” said Chang.

Chang hopes that sessions like the confidence building workshops can be incorporated as part of the co-curriculum development to help promote English language learning among students in both the primary and secondary schools.

“This would prepare the students for higher level learning. It will help them become proficient in the language when they join the future workforce,” she added.

Also present at the workshop were Magnum Johor state assistant manager Teo Kuan Tsiar and Star Media Group NiE editorial manager Sharon Ovinis.


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