Tuesday, February 16, 2021

PSLE tips and resources Part 1 - English

2020 has been an extra-ordinary year for most. For my case, it has an added dimension of another layer of parenting woes – the PSLE.

The kid was not as engaged online learning as compared to physical classrooms and we had to work through gaps in the last few weeks leading up to the national exam. During those 2 months, I have sat through quite a bit of webinars and devised different revision plans as well as flipped through many different guidebooks and assessment books.

I thought that it would be useful to share them with you in a few posts split into the different subjects. 😊

:: English

This has always been Dumpling’s pet subject and while we did not have to revise as much, there are a few elements in this subject that I wish to highlight.

1. Oral

Oral is a great way to earn marks if your child is confident, reads widely and is able to contribute to conversations meaningfully. However, for some children, having the context to talk about and the vocabulary bank bring about another set of challenges.

There are a few areas which I think would be important for us to highlight to our children.

-        -  Read and speak slowly and clearly

Due to nerves, a lot of students may ramble off or read through the passage at a lightning speed. This to me is a pity as read-aloud is a great way to secure as many marks as possible as your child will have time to see the passage prior and prepare.

- Be mindful of the ending consonants and expressions. 

Can the examiner hear the “t” and the “th”? Is the dialogue in the form of a question? Was the character speaking in anger? Model those feelings accordingly. 

Looking at the rubrics sent back over the years, pupils are rated on accuracy (of pronunciation), fluency and their expression.   

-         2. Stimulus based conversation

Instead of leaving it to the last minute to prepare for this section, I think it would be a good practice to engage your child and have casual conversations about a menu, poster or an advertisement.

“Would you be keen to purchase the carton of oat milk? Why and why not?” and if the visuals are food related, they usually are linked to health themes. “Have you tried oat milk before? How do you think we should maintain a healthy lifestyle?” 

Of course, in our conversations with them, the discussions are more casual, but the idea is to get your child comfortable in sharing and commenting as the less the examiners prompt them, the better. 

A book which I used last year is this below.  It has both listening comprehension practices and oral practices which make this a convenient resource to have.

(Note: Listening comprehension is also a tad trickier at P6 where the questions often times require deeper thinking and do not have as many "direct questions" like the lower levels. For e.g. they may describe a sequence / a path and the question may require the child to think in the reverse order of the sequence. Hence it would be good to have some practices in this too.)

2. Synthesis and Transformation (S&T)

This gave me nightmares when the kiddo was in Primary 5 and for the first time, did badly in a paper component for English.

With S&T, it is what I refer to as a “sudden death” – you either get the full 2 marks or you get 0, hence it would be very easy to lose 5 - 6 marks in this section.   

There are extremely strict rules regarding S&T – if the subject is in a plural form, it must stay in a plural form. For instance, if the question listed “apples” then after transforming the sentence, it has to be same – “apples”.

I noted that in most past year papers, reported speech (direct to indirect speech) seems to an area which is always tested on. On this area, the child needs to follow the “TPTP” rule and Lil But Mighty has a great post here.

There are not many S&T books available at the bookstore. Here’s a book which you may find useful where it explains the rules, connectors, etc., and provides practices after. I understand that some local schools also has this title listed in their supplementary / recommended lists too. 

Away from the monotony of the syllabus, I also subscribed to Kids Discover which the kiddo reads for leisure. 

In the comprehension components for exams these days, passages may include current affairs or things on general knowledge. This site has topics which aid to increase our children's knowledge and could in turn, encourage them to read more. 

Additionally, the passages from this site allow you to customize your child's reading level (according to the Lexile levels) based on his/her readiness. You can also choose a "read aloud" function which will assist your child in the pronunciation of words which he/she could be unfamiliar with. With Dumpling in Sec 1 this year, she has also found this site useful for History too. :) 

Edit: I have done up the second post on Science tips and resources

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  1. Thanks for the help, through this blog now I can deal with my psle english oral problems. I am a student and english is one of the subjects that I have a problem with, even though many of the problems I have solved in my homework were correct but the solutions provided here helped me understand the subject better as these are solutions given by experts and with correct knowledge.


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