FOR most students, English language lessons often consist of completing the activities and exercises covered in their textbooks and workbooks. For students who have the opportunity to use The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout, however, their English language learning often takes on a life of its own.
SMK Desa Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, English panel head Hemadevi Chandran saw first-hand how students benefited from the educational resource.
“I used it for three years. My colleagues and I took turns sharing the resource according to the forms we were teaching, ” she said.
“We used it as non-textbook material. The students loved it. They usually got their news online or read their vernacular newspapers, so having a hard copy of The Star to hold and read really made a difference, ” she added.
Hemadevi often challenged her Forms Four and Five students to give their opinions based on topics highlighted in the newspaper.
“This helped them produce news writing essays, which are part of the syllabus, ” she said.
“I told my students the first thing they could do to improve their English proficiency was to read the newspaper, ” she added.
SMK Desa Perdana was among 10 secondary schools in the Klang Valley that benefited from the NiE resource last year, courtesy of Mary Kay (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. Sponsored copies of the pullout, worth RM40,000, were distributed by Star Media Group.
The sponsorship also saw pupils from 10 primary schools receiving copies of The Star’s Step Up pullout. This marked the fifth time that Mary Kay had stepped in to sponsor the resources.
Published on Wednesdays,
the bi-monthly 16-page NiE pullout is filled with English language lessons organised into elementary, intermediate and advanced levels to help teachers carry out newspaper activities according to their students’ proficiency levels.
An initiative under The Star’s NiE programme, Step Up is a 32-page trilingual pullout designed for pupils in Years Four, Five and Six. It features translations of English words in Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin.
Both pullouts come with a copy of The Star newspaper each, are syllabi-based and endorsed by the Education Ministry.
Mary Kay general manager (Malaysia and Singapore) Khor Lee Fan expressed her company’s continued commitment to giving back to society and changing lives through its corporate social responsibility initiative.
“Our mission statement is enriching women’s lives. Family is very important for women so that’s why children are included in our legacy for the future. Sponsoring educational pullouts for children is also aligned with our founder’s belief in giving back to society.
“We believe the resources will empower children to be more versatile and approachable, which will help them to contribute back to society in future, ” she said.
Through their school visits, Khor and her team have seen the potency of the pullouts in bringing English language lessons alive.
“We saw good response from the students. The pullouts are fun and interactive – two elements that we feel are important to get students to learn better, compared to individual buy-it-yourself reading, ” she said.
Khor is also keenly aware of the need to promote English proficiency among Malaysian students.
“It’s good to start as early as possible. With social media and technology, the world has become seamless. English is a universal language. Communication and interpersonal skills are very important. Students with good English proficiency will be more marketable and globally effective in future, ” she said.
SMK Desa Perdana Form Five students Armaan Shaan Sandeep Kumar and Aidilratun Nur Rozman are thankful for the sponsorship.
“There were a lot of fun activities in NiE. We did cut-and-paste activities, and at the end, took gallery walks and gave opinions. Using the newspaper for homework was refreshing too. We got to enhance our knowledge of national and world affairs, ” said Armaan.
“I also used NiE as reference material, especially the SPM section. Another of my favourite was the BRATs section where I read interesting articles written by teens my age, ” he added.
Aidilratun recommends the use of the newspaper and the NiE pullout in learning English.
“Teens these days mostly read comics and novels. It’s good to use newspapers in class to open our minds to what’s going on in our country and elsewhere, apart from improving our English, ” she said, adding that she had enjoyed working in teams to complete the NiE activities.
SMK Tropicana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, English panel head Anita Mary also found good outcomes from the use of NiE. In her school, a special roster was created so that all the teachers had a chance to use the pullout.
“I used the PT3 section to prepare my students for the exams. The sample questions were really helpful. I also used the Literature section with my SPM students, ” she said.
“There are many real-life examples, and vocabulary and grammar activities in NiE. Students were excited whenever we had these activities but they sometimes got sidetracked scanning articles in the newspaper, ” she added.
According to Anita, the English panel in her school is required to carry out a number of programmes. She was grateful that NiE was included as one of the programmes last year, thanks to Mary Kay’s sponsorship.
SK Damansara Damai 2, Petaling Jaya, English panel head Balvinder Kaur is also appreciative of the cosmetic giant’s sponsorship of the Step Up pullouts for her pupils.
“The exercises in the resource, especially the samples given in the writing section, helped a lot. We have many pupils from the B40 group. They are weak in English and they can’t afford to subscribe to the resource, even though it’s priced affordably.
“The pullout helped to improve their English proficiency. It also managed to get them excited about learning, with its colourful pages, pictures, illustrations and interesting stories, ” she said.
Since 1997, the NiE programme by The Star has been turning the newspaper into a quality classroom resource.
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).