Words in the news to inspire

Students from SMK Kuala Selangor, Selangor, working on an NiE activity during the Highly Immersive Programme.

School uses the newspaper to engage students in HIP

AT a recent Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) Carnival organised by the Selangor State Education Department in SMK Raja Muda Musa, Selangor, eight schools from six districts – SK Kampung Idaman, SK Binjal, SAM Sg Haji Dorani, SMK Seksyen 4 Kota Damansara, SMK Ampang Pecah, SMK TTDI Jaya and SMK Kuala Selangor – discussed strategies taken by the school administration to achieve its goal of improving English proficiency among students.

HIP, which was introduced under the Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English policy, aims to provide a language-rich environment for students to be exposed to the language through various activities within and beyond the classroom.

Besides improving English proficiency, it also focuses on inculcating positive behaviour towards learning and using the language.

SMK Kuala Selangor English panel head Faridah Kassim shares her experiences in incorporating The Star newspaper and its Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout as part of the school’s Highly Immersive Programme.

IN SMK Kuala Selangor, the English language department has carried out many activities under HIP. One of the programmes include our use of the newspaper known as The Star’s NiE pullout.

In a quote from her book Quotes with Soul to Make You Feel Whole, Lucille Dass, Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer, states: “Your paper qualifications do not just your credentials make. You are valued mostly according to how you inter-relate and communicate.”

In this quote, I believe that the key word here is “communicate”.

If “on paper” a student is excellent and shows outstanding grades but is unable to communicate well, the result is not valuable because he will not be able to show for it in life. For example, should this student attend an interview, he will be unable to express his ideas well and hence miss opportunities to better himself.

This is a common occurrence because most students these days cannot communicate well. This, in my opinion, is due to the lack of vocabulary in speaking English. This is why the NiE programme is so closely connected to HIP.

The newspaper directs students to word exposure. If teachers use the NiE programme in their lessons, students would uncover more words and by doing so, would increase their vocabulary.

As a teacher who has used the NiE pullouts in the classroom since 2016, I can vouch that The Star’s NiE programme inspires teachers to be creative in planning their activities.

We have used NiE activities suggested in the pullouts and tweaked them to support all types of language-rich activities to create a highly immersive environment in the classroom.

We have been fortunate because of a newspaper sponsorship from glove-making company, Hartalega.

From this sponsorship, we carried out 21st century teaching and learning lessons. Here, students are divided into teams for group work. To complete tasks, they use materials from the newspaper. The final product is an opportunity to present their outcome in groups.

The students in our school are quite familiar with this type of learning methodology because the activities in the Star-NiE pullouts encourage group learning and outcomes. Hence, we have students who are ready to get involved in competitions, especially like the ones organised in the annual Star-NiE contests.

Our students are already familiar with the concept of shared learning experiences. This type of learning encourages creativity among students. I am proud to say that through such learning experiences, students from SMK Kuala Selangor clinched the Merit Awards in 2016 and 2018 at the NiE contests, namely, Game 4 Life and Star Flicks.

Besides using NiE in the classroom, we use this methodology at our Speaker’s Corner where students carry out one-minute speeches during recess. Each student selects a topic taken from the newspaper and speaks on the issue.

The teachers, too, play an active role in the school. They take turns to give one-minute speeches during the assemblies. Even the ustaz and ustazah use the English language during this programme.

At co-curriculum activities, NiE is a regular feature during English Camps. Students enjoy expressing their ideas from newspaper articles that pique their interests. They use their creativity to present their findings in groups. These outcomes are displayed at the English Corner at the library which are often referred to by the teachers and students.

We would like to thank Hartalega, our newspaper sponsors and The Star for their great support. If you are looking for ideas to spruce up your Highly Immersive Programme in school, Star-NiE is a great tool and resource to turn to!

— Faridah Kassim, teacher, SMK Kuala Selangor, Selangor

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