GRAMMAR – just mention the word, and students will most likely anticipate routine studying of language rules before answering textbook-type fill-in-the-blank worksheets.
While it may be effective to immerse students in intensive practice of the language fundamentals, one must not overlook the benefits of adding an element of fun to the learning process.
Since 1997, fun, interactive educational experience has been at the core of The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme.
This year, the English language resource for secondary school students is back with a brand new segment called Grammar Duels.
Instead of presenting typical workbook-type drilling exercises, it challenges students to pit themselves against each other in a board game based on a grammar topic.
Answer a question correctly and they get to proceed to the next square along the board; otherwise, they have to move their tokens two steps back, which will potentially reduce their winning chances.
Students will thus be motivated to grasp the grammar concepts in order for them to spot the errors, give correct answers and win the game. After all, everyone – regardless of age – loves the thrill of winning!
Can’t get enough of it? Students can look out for another board game format in the NiE Literature section, as well.
Spread out across two pages, the Litera-fic game can be played with two to four players, or in teams. Think it’s just all fun and no work? You’ll be proven wrong if you go into it ill-prepared.
It tests the players’ knowledge of a literary piece selected from the English language literature component of the national secondary school syllabus.
You’ve got to have a sound understanding of the poem, short story or novel if you plan to be the first player to reach the finishing line on the game board.
Another newly-introduced feature in this year’s NiE resource is a section called Mind Maze. This is where students can take part in personality and values-based quizzes, and pick up coping tips as they nurture their mental health, which is especially important during this uncertain time of Covid-19.
Apart from fun, interactive activities that students can work on their own or with each other, the 16-page NiE pullout is filled with opportunities for teachers to expand their teaching repertoire and bring their English language lessons to life.
In fact, teachers will be equipped with a tool that brings the world into the classroom.
From current affairs to lifestyle and sports news making the headlines nationally and all over the world, the NiE pullout exposes students to issues in the real world while helping to make the connection between classroom learning and these real-life issues.
Activities are organised into elementary, intermediate and advanced levels, focusing on three major segments – the English language, literature enrichment and character building. These three segments are titled NiE English, NiE Literature and NiE Life, respectively.
The pullout follows themes in the national syllabus and is endorsed by the Education Ministry.
It also includes key indicators that signal the types of 21st century skills practised in each activity – among them critical and creative thinking, and collaborative learning.
Other sections in the pullout include BRATs and Earn Your Band 5+.
In the BRATs section, students will get to read articles written by their peers from the age of 14 to 22.
These writers are participants of NiE’s BRATs Young Journalist Programme, and are trained to produce “teen-spiring” articles in a variety of format, from reflective pieces to interview articles.
Teachers, too, get a reading corner where they can take inspiration from the musings of our teacher-writers in the column titled Teacher Musings.
Previously titled Earn Your Band 6, the section aimed at improving the English proficiency of those taking the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) has been renamed Earn Your Band 5+ in keeping with the latest revision of the MUET syllabus, and changes to the test specification.
In this two-pager, students will have access to activities based on The Star’s infographics designed to provide information that will come in handy in their reading, writing, listening and speaking tests.
MUET students also stand a chance to have their essays published, and win cash prizes.
PT3 and SPM students, too, get to benefit from a two-page English language exam practice.
The use of newspapers in classroom learning is a method tried and tested all over the world.
Entering its 24th year amid the disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Star-NiE programme will continue to provide authentic materials for language lessons, and help teachers and students make the most of the newspaper as a classroom learning resource.
Teachers subscribing to the pullout will be given a copy of the NiE 2021 planner with the topics featured to enable them to seamlessly integrate the activities into their lesson plans.
Published bi-monthly on Wednesdays, NiE is written by a team of experienced English language teachers and specialists.
There are 20 issues a year, and each issue comes with a copy of The Star newspaper. The first issue of the year will be rolled out this Wednesday.
For more information, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827 from Monday to Friday (9am-5pm), or get in touch with the marketing representative closest to you (please refer to the table).
Subscription is through schools only. To join NiE’s online community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.