TO excel in the English language, one cannot run away from doing lots of reading and writing.
It is certainly not an overnight feat, as Jessendra Selvarajan can vouch for.
Having devoted years to honing her skills, the 18-year-old showed that persistence indeed pays off when she was named the Top in the World award recipient for English as a Second Language (Count-in Speaking) in the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) November 2022 examinations.
Fresh from receiving her award at the Outstanding Cambridge Learner Awards Ceremony held in a hotel in Selangor on May 11, Jessendra, who is currently pursuing her foundation in arts at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), said she grew up reading “lots of books”.
“I have always had an interest in English from young and my parents were very encouraging of it.
“I love reading in general but I usually gravitate more towards fiction, such as fantasy and science fiction,” she told StarEdu, while stressing, “Any book you read is bound to help you in some way.”
Apart from reading, Jessendra swears by doing “lots of writing practice”, as well as working on expanding her vocabulary and understanding grammar usage.
She added that years of watching TV shows and movies in English enabled her to improve her speaking skills and pronunciation.
“I believe the dedication and interest I have for the language have helped me master it very well. This award is truly an honour and shows me that I’m on the right track,” she said, adding that she “would love to study English” in her tertiary studies and even teach the subject in the future.
A homeschooled student at the upper secondary level, Jessendra took six subjects, which included Mathematics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Bahasa Melayu, in the IGCSE examinations as a private candidate.
“I managed to complete my IGCSE within one-and-a-half years. I was guided by my private tutors Dr Ibrabagaran Ilangkovan, Ms Sharala Kuti Kander and Mr Anbalagan Balaraman, as well as Ms Merlinda Ho from Cempaka International School.
“I am really grateful that I had their guidance through it all as I couldn’t have done it without them,” she said. In the IGCSE English as a Second Language (Count-in Speaking) paper, the speaking component contributes 20% to the final syllabus grade, while the reading/writing component 60% and listening 20%.
Carrie, 22, a student in Penang, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to facebook.com/niebrats.