SINGAPORE: Primary Four students will face a revised English Language syllabus next year. It is part of the Education Ministry’s efforts to equip pupils with critical thinking and communication skills.
As a result, the English Language paper for the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) will be tweaked for the cohort taking the national examination in 2015.
During English lessons at Woodlands Primary School, students role—play as representatives from airline companies, nature societies and the media to discuss issues from different perspectives.
Eugene Lee, a Primary 6 student, said: "The part I enjoy most is that I’m able to express my opinions... because in this kind of forum there’s no right or wrong answer."
Ms Ang Hui Lee, head of department, English Language, Woodlands Primary School, said: "They learn to say, ’I agree with you because...’, ’I disagree with you because...’, so they learn the language of discussion. Throughout, I also think they learn how to respect each other’s opinions."
Such lessons could point towards how English lessons will soon be conducted.
Since the new syllabus was introduced two years ago, there have been no textbooks or workbooks. Instead, students are exposed to a wide variety of authentic texts, such as newspaper articles, websites and posters.
For those taking their PSLE in 2015, they may be asked to evaluate a text that comes with graphics.
Dr Elizabeth Pang, programme director, Literacy Development, Ministry of Education, said: "Instead of just one picture or one situation, they can write based on a topic, and the stimulus comes in the form of three different pictures. They can write on one, two or three of the pictures. In our trials, the children were able to demonstrate quite a wide range of responses, and that’s what we want to see."
The open—ended nature of the questions could make it harder for students to prepare for the PSLE.
However, one parent is glad her child now speaks more confidently thanks to the new teaching approach.
Mdm Nafisah Md Ma’mun, parent of a Primary 4 student at Tampines Primary School, said: "The purpose for the learning becomes something different. If we view language learning as a process to just pass exams, then I think in the long term, a child, or even an individual may lose out in many areas."
But she suggested that the ministry reaches out to more parents to help them understand the changes.
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