Correcting grammar and cultivating vocabulary are all in a day’s for work for these instructors
By Kelly Morse
To recognize outstanding instruction in the classroom, Mr. Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Defense and Education, presented eight primary and secondary English teachers with the Inspiring Teacher of English Award.
On Tuesday, nominees and distinguished guests from the community, gathered at the National Library for the awards ceremony. In total, students nominated 88 teachers from the primary to junior college level. All award recipients are listed below.
Beginning in 2008, The Inspiring Teacher of English Award began as a joint project between The Straits Times and the Speak Good English Movement and was supported by the Ministry of Education (MOE). Just over a decade ago, this movement was started to raise awareness about the importance of speaking Standard English. “What this means is that we must all develop the ability to communicate in a form of English that will be clearly and readily understood in all countries…” said Mr. Wong during his speech delivered at the event.
More so than Mandarin, the English language opens doors to a broader international community, providing English-speaking students greater opportunities upon graduation. The emphasis is not on eliminating the Singaporean “Singlish” accent, but rather ensuring that grammar, sentence construction and pronunciation are correct.
Mr. Teo Gene-en, a lecturer from Victoria Junior College and 2011 award nominee, shared that while Singapore as a whole is well known for it’s proficiencies in subjects such as math and science, English is an area that is often criticised and could be improved. Perhaps that is why at the moment, no one is running, for example “Learn Fast Physics,” or “Be Mad About Math” campaigns.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Teachers face the responsibility of equipping students with the knowledge they need to be successful. This task comes with varying degrees of difficultly for each student. Some come from foreign language speaking families, while others are brought up to speak English from young. To address these differences and encourage all students to be proactive about their education, teachers flexed their creative muscle and began developing programmes to meet those needs.
One way that Ms. Gladys Ng, lecturer from River Valley Primary School, helps to foster the learning environment is by motivating the stronger students to help the weaker ones. She focuses on keeping her students engaged in the classroom, instead of putting immense pressure on them to score perfect A’s.
Mr. Wong reflected on his time as a student and said that back then “There was little class interaction or active use of the language. Today the teaching environment is completely different.”
More ways instructors are changing this environment are by setting up classroom debates, incorporating popular games like “Taboo”, reading and discussing the newspaper, and even watching videos on YouTube. Modern twists on standard teaching keep students eager to learn.
LEADING THE WAY
Language is all encompassing. Unlike math or science, language is used everyday, so learning English, does not stop outside of the classroom. Not only English teachers, but also instructors of other courses, non-teaching staff and parents bear a piece of the responsibility as well.
Both Ms. Pamela Kiew from Bukit View Primary School and Mr. Edwin Tan from First Toa Payoh Primary School, developed and incorporated programmes to improve the standard of English spoken by everyone employed at their respective schools, including canteen vendors and security guards.
“It’s a shared responsibility,” said Mr. Teo, when asked about how much responsibility lies with instructors and with the parents. More than any other subject, parents have the ability to make a great impact on their child’s speech.
This year’s award recipients are Ms. Pamela Kiew Hui Li, Bukit View Primary School; Mr. Edwin Tan Boon Hock, First Toa Payoh Primary School; Mr. Julian Victor, Rivervale Primary School; Gladys Ng Wai Heng, River Valley Primary School; Suzaina Koh Bte Nasir, Assumption Pathway School; Lee Poh Lin, Montfort Secondary School; Anna Mathew, Si Ling Secondary School; Shirley Teo-Pang Kim Hiang, Teck Whye Secondary School.