Spanning over 2 Saturdays of 6 hours each, the parents, including me, who attended the Marshall Cavendish Education PSLE English Workshop for Parents certainly wasted no time in learning.. PSLE English!
This is not an Adult English Course, in case you are wondering. It is more of a crash course in understanding how to tackle the English Language Paper in PSLE. All of us were there to learn tips and pass our takeaways to our children. Some parents were more interested in knowing how to obtain A* for the paper, some wanted cheat sheets that the private tuition centres have and school teachers do not, and for me, I want to learn as much as I can and incorporate into our daily 30 min revision of English with my Missy 12. I am there to absorb knowledge and learn how to teach, not so much as to obtain A*.
I think for many of us, we came out from the workshop feeling that we had squeezed the trainer all his possible knowledge in the PSLE English paper. The best part is, the trainer was super accommodating and selfless in sharing his tips and such. All in all, for me, I have learnt lots in the 12 hours of workshop!
The trainer is Joel Lim, who had conducted an enjoyable workshop for my Missy 12 a couple of weeks back in the PSLE English Workshop for Student. You may read about what she learnt in this post.
We learnt about the format of the English paper and weightage of marks, Comprehension, Letter-writing, Situational writing, Essays, Synthesis and Transformation, Comprehension Cloze, Oral, Listening Comprehension and many other details to look out for when attempting the English paper. Joel gave a very good advice before we started the workshop proper:
Listen to your child more, and Speak Less.
How true and what a timely reminder! Often, we fail to LISTEN attentively to our child when they talk, and more often than not, I find my voice filling the air from the moment I come home from work till they sleep. It certainly does not seem healthy!
Now, let’s see what we have learnt in each segment in the English language paper.
Joel taught us Composition tactics. He shared to us from the examiner’s point of view when reading and marking a composition. Not only that, he printed examples of composition from a weak writer, an average writer and a strong writer. In the class, he analysed the writing skills and trademarks of different kinds of writers. This certainly helps me greatly in teaching my girl what to look out for and how not to fall into these pit holes. I shall be sharing more on what I have learnt from the workshop in my PSLE Series on Composition writing soon.
He used a past PSLE Comprehension Passage and taught us the steps in tackling it:
1) Read the passage (and read again for a second time)
3) Ask Questions and Answer them in your head
4) Complete Questions
He drew arrows on the passage and explained to us how he infers and asks questions in his head when reading the passage carefully. It may seem tedious but I find it very useful to teach my Missy 12 with the details of going through word by word, phrase by phrase and sentence by sentence. I believe with sufficient practices, she will get into the habit of ‘Inferencing’ and able to answer questions more confidently.
On Synthesis and Transformation
We were recommended some good assessment books and it is really up to individual to review if these books suit the styles of your child. Joel went through the following book on Synthesis and Transformation which I immediately went to buy from Popular bookstore. I find the layout of the book helpful in presenting transformed words in table form, and addressing some difficult ones like “who and whom” usage in synthesis. Do check this out and see if it suits your child.
One thing we learnt is that for Synthesis and Transformation questions, there are no half marks and hence, either your child get full 2 marks or he/she will get zero mark even for a missing word. Thus, practicing more questions is probably the key to tackling this segment.
On Comprehension Cloze
We briefly touched on this and Joel had shared the following pointers from again another “My Friend Has Diarrhea” kind of abbreviations for easy remembrance: Round Aunty Farts Chocolate Rainbows!
Round – Read once first to get background information
Aunty – Annotate: summarise, drawing arrows to relate, asking questions and answering them
Farts – Fill in the blanks with as many words as you can think of in pencil
Chocolate – Choose the best answer for each question
Rainbows – Read again, use instinct to judge appropriateness of answers
Well, there are quite many ways that I have learnt on tackling Comprehension Cloze from various sources. Hence, I shall similarly share on my PSLE Series blog posts with one on tackling the Comprehension Cloze. Stay tune!
On Oral and Listening Comprehension
Joel recommended another good book for this segment. I really emphathize with our children these days. Even something so simple and easy to score like ‘Listening Comprehension’ and ‘Oral’ need strategies and a dedicated assessment book for them. I remembered we had never needed to prepare for them during our PSLE times! But, now, the PSLE standard has up many notches and Oral is really similar to an interview session in my opinion. Perhaps, if I were to take the PSLE Oral, I may not get good marks too since I tend to stutter or tongue-tied at impromptu questions, especially if the topic is not so much of my interest!
Do spend some time to go to Popular Bookstore to hunt for this book and read the tips given. I find that some are quite common sense and some are really good tips. But given the limited time, I would not be able to prepare my girl much for Oral and Listening Comprehension. Maybe, I should start prepping her during our conversations on bus rides to get her used to speaking and quick thinking.
Apart from sharing tips and tricks on all the English Paper sections, Joel is very kind to share his own resources on “Commonly Mis-spelt words” and Synthesis and Transformation Rules table among other things. We could feel that he understood why we would drop all schedule to spend 2 Saturdays learning from him. And he genuinely wanted to help us parents to help our own children.
After his workshop, I tested out the tips on my girl and for the first time, seriously, she answered 8 questions in a top school Comprehension passage correctly! While I am not expecting miracles, I can tell that my girl is gaining confidence in doing her English paper. By and by, I am sure we will get there!
Marshall Cavendish has 1 more Parent Workshop in this series:
PSLE Math Workshop For Parents
Date: 1 & 8 April (2 Saturdays in total)
Venue: Times Centre
Time: 9am – 430pm
Do check out the website for more information and upcoming workshops.
I have a timetable here on the upcoming ones for your reference:
Disclaimer: I was invited to attend the Marshall Cavendish Education PSLE English Workshop for Parents. Thank you MCE and PR company for the chance to learn and teach my children. I strongly recommend concerned parents to attend MCE Workshops which I really benefited a lot!