Much have been debated about the PSLE all over the media and as a result, it has taken the shine off the adventurous move by the Ministry of Education to introduce the STELLAR syllabus to the primary 4 pupils from 2013. STELLAR – Strategies for English Language Learning And Reading – was introduced to schools in 4 phases starting from 2006 and as of 2010, the syllabus and materials were made available to all schools. Though it was not compulsory before, it would be this coming new school year.
It is hard to predict how different schools would move forward with the new syllabus as STELLAR lessons are predominantly interactive to imbue 21st century competencies such as effective and confident communication. This means learning and mastering the English language would move towards an increased of reading, public speaking and effective interaction. As stated by MOE’s press release, pupils could expect the following in class:
As part of the programme, EL is taught through stories and texts that appeal to children, with explicit grammar instruction. Students are provided with opportunities to express themselves in an environment where language learning can be enjoyable yet purposeful. Through the reading of engaging stories in class, students get to speak extensively, discussing and sharing their views with the teacher and their peers. The main purpose is to build students’ confidence in speech and writing, and enhance their learning of the language.
As an educator, I find that this bodes well for the future of our students. Being a proponent of teaching English through varied reading and effective communication, I am excited to see how the teaching and learning of the English language in schools would change in the foreseeable future.
How could parents help with their children’s language development so that it would be aligned to the new expectations?
One of my father’s strategies to inculcate excellent language proficiency in my siblings and I was to leave varied reading materials all over the house so that inevitably, we would pick them up and read them. When he came home from work, he would casually converse with us with regard to the reading materials. Being a teacher himself, I believe that was how he had implemented his own stellar ideas.
With the change of syllabus, parents’ involvement with their children’s language development would have to change as well. I do hope parents would now be encouraged to move away from the over-reliance of dull assessment exercises and move towards developing their very own stellar ways to assist their children at home. Communicating effectively with your children, encouraging varied reading and writing daily journals would definitely equip them with the proper tools to face the ever-changing challenges of the 21st century.
By Mr Mohamad Farhan Bin Ishak
Mr. Farhan has been with GRAM’s Learning Centre since 2011 as an English Language programme developer. A Ministry of Education trained teacher, he left the service in 2011 after teaching in local schools for a decade. A voracious reader himself, he equips his students with reading and answering skills that are core to the CompreGRAM English programme.