WITH the onset of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and the subsequent movement control order, the learning tempo of Malaysian schools was disrupted. When schools were closed, for some students, it meant that they could not participate in Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) classroom activities which they had always looked forward to.
By August when schools had fully reopened, Pusat Tuisyen Impian Bonda principal Mohd Badrul Azhar Zulkapli found NiE to be the perfect tool to jump-start English classes at his centre located in Seremban. Mohd Badrul Azhar organised an NiE session, facilitated by English teacher Shoba Dev, for a small group of students.
The Star’s NiE programme promotes literacy by using the newspaper as a teaching tool.
Published bi-monthly on Wednesdays, the colourful Star-NiE pullout is written by a team of experienced English language teachers and specialists, and is packed with hands-on activities for the classroom.
The NiE pullout, which comes with a copy of The Star, has 16 pages per issue. The pullout follows themes in the national syllabus and organises its activities into elementary, intermediate and advanced levels.
Initially, the programme began with just three students -- a secondary school student Nyanaprasad Rao Gopal Krishnan, 13, and two primary school pupils, Kennedy Yap Junn Poh and Nur Azlin Mohamad Razif, both 11.
As the Seremban tuition centre is the only tuition centre with a theme-based flora and fauna setting, students were asked to scan The Star newspaper to look for pictures and names of plants and animals. These items were then cut and pasted onto a piece of paper.
The students then had to compare the information they gathered with that of their friends. They then walked around their tuition centre lobby area and classrooms which were filled with flora and fauna decorations to see if anything matched their information.
Having completed the first task, the students proceeded to do further activities in the Step Up and NiE pullouts under Shoba’s guidance.
Nyanaprasad Rao found the NiE activities truly attention-grabbing. “I enjoyed doing the activities in the NiE pullout as they made me think. Besides that, the visuals were attractive and they made understanding easier. The activities were varied and challenging and that kept my interest piqued, ” he said.
Kennedy, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised as he had never done activities using the newspaper. He was glued to the papers and, with full determination and eagerness, completed all the activities. At the end of the session, he yearned to do more activities which he was promised in the upcoming weeks.
“I think I can keep doing activities like these the entire day. I am learning so many new English words, ” he said.
Nur Azlin’s excitement was evident as she busily flipped through the pages of The Star, eager to finish her task. She said that this was her maiden encounter with Step Up.
Launched in 2011, Step Up caters to primary school pupils in Years Four, Five and Six. It is a workbook-cum-activity pullout aimed at helping pupils improve their vocabulary, grammar, writing and conversational skills while preparing for the UPSR.
The pullout features Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese translations of difficult English words, while its last two pages feature NiE activities.
There are 11 issues of Step Up a year, published once a month on Tuesdays.
“I feel motivated to complete all the activities in the Step Up pullout. I learnt a lot about grammar, and in an interesting way!” said Nur Azlin.
The students went home with a bag of tales to tell their friends and soon other students at the centre enrolled for the NiE sessions.
These sessions will soon be incorporated into their English classes once classes resume fully.
Mohd Badrul Azhar was extremely impressed at how The Star revived and instilled the desire to learn English among his students.
Like a shining star, as he described it, The Star adds a spark to English classrooms. Furthermore, the wealth of information that it provides cannot be denied and the list of vocabulary from The Star is exhaustive.
“When students are immersed in the flora and fauna environment at my centre, coupled with lively and thought-provoking activities from the NiE and Step Up pullouts, I see that the learning process come alive.
“This will help groom our future leaders to be proficient in the English language, ” he said.
The NiE session at Pusat Tuisyen Impian Bonda brimmed with such positive feedback so much so that other tuition centres have followed suit by subscribing to The Star’s NiE and Step Up pullouts and conducting the activities.
The Star newspaper takes our students through an endless journey of words, phrases, knowledge and visuals. With a bit of guidance, these authentic materials are easily dissected and digested by our young ones to be used in their own speech and writing agreed Shoba Dev.
By SHOBA DEV, teacher
Seremban, Negri Sembilan
The Star’s education pullouts, NiE and Step Up, are English language resources for the classrooms. They are syllabus-based and endorsed by the Education Ministry. For more information, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827 from Monday to Friday (9am-5pm).
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