Mind your manners: Noor Rezan says that children must be reminded to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in the classroom too.
Duh ... it’s ‛the’ not ‛de’
FACEBOOK can be engaging if we use it wisely. I’ve been enlightened by some of the information I’ve gathered on this social networking website.
Not long ago, I joined a public group comprising a number of outspoken parents, teachers and other professionals.
I marvel at the way they discuss issues intelligently offering various perspectives.
The are concerned about the education system in our country. After all, parents being stakeholders have a role to play in raising issues that affect their children.
Their opinions matter which is why the Sarana Ibubapa programme was introduced in national schools. It is an initiative to encourage parents to enagage and participate in school affairs.
English was the medium used by the group.
Being an educator, I enjoy engaging with parents as I am curious to know their views on learning and teaching outcomes.
It is good to listen to their insights on a variety of topics related to education for it also helps broaden my outlook on aspects that I may have overlooked, or have little knowledge of.
In a recent posting, a parent shared his English learning experience in school, many years ago.
It was quite hilarious as he gave a detailed account of how his English teacher in primary school instructed him and his classmates to bring a small mirror to school.
Why? Because they could observe themselves as they learnt to pronounce words that began with “th” and other tongue twisters.
The pupils were given specific instructions – they had to look into the mirror, then place the tip of the tongue between their upper and lower teeth before pronouncing words like “the”, “think”, “thought”, “them”, “theirs” ... the list goes on.
I was impressed, it was a great way to learn pronunciation. The teacher was certainly ahead of her time and yes, thinking out of the box!
The parent in the posting, said that the teacher had made a lasting impression on him. Her unique teaching method was indeed a success.
We cant’t say the same of English teachers these days. Many of them cannot pronounce words like “‘the” correctly often saying “de” instead.
How then can we expect our students to have the right diction?
The objective of the ongoing Literacy and Numeracy Screening (Linus) programme in schools is to ensure that all Malaysian schoolchildren acquire basic literacy and numeracy skills, after three years of mainstream primary education. One of the main components is phonics. Curiously enough, some teachers are still struggling to pronounce common words and even letters of the alphabet correctly!
As teachers, we forget that we too need to learn. We must remember to reinforce what we’ve learnt, while keeping up with new teaching techniques and methodologies.
I must say that learning pronunciation is something that’s dreaded by many students. Many words are not pronounced the way they are spelt. For instance, the word ‘plumber” is pronounced without the “b” sound which means the “b” is silent. Silent letters cause difficulties for English learners because they make the spelling of words different from their pronunciation.
There are other words where there are silent letters like honest (silent h), debt (silent b), heir (silent b), knife (silent k) and knuckle (silent k).
Simply going over pronunciation rules alone is not enough. Saying the word repeatedly can help students improve their pronunciation.
Teachers on their part have to motivate and include an element of fun.
When I trained my students for a choral speaking competition some years ago in my former school, I remember it was incredibly difficult to make the students say “the” correctly.
Emphasis is placed on pronunciation and enunciation in choral speaking.
Since it was a rural school, the students were not exposed to the English language as much as their urban peers.
Still, the choral speaking team managed to take the third spot in the district level competition.
It has been a tough journey for me and other English language teachers since the language is only spoken and taught during English lessons, more so in rural schools.
However, I hope the immersion programme which will see the introduction of English in co-curricular activities next year, would have more students speaking in the international language.
Research has shown that language learning is best learnt through immersion as it helps with a person’s fluency and language skills.
Sumati Muniandy Johor The STAR Home News Opinion 20 December 2015