Lil' but Mighty English Primary Tuition

Authentic Learning | A New Way to Read the News

Visual Text Comprehension, English in the Real WorldLily Chew3 Comments

Did you hear about the taxi that exploded at Buona Vista station? How about President Trump’s supposed visit to North Korea? Which of these are facts? And which are, to use a now oft-quoted term by a certain administration, “alternative facts”? In the world we live in today, the processing of information is not always so straightforward because of how, with the help of social media, almost anybody can be the one to break the latest news on a subject of interest. This is where critical thinking becomes so important and is a skill many English examinations seek to test, especially in the upper levels. Read on to find out how we can use the humble newspaper (or news app) to hone that skill and many more.

A NEW WAY TO READ THE NEWS

Activity #1: Fact v Opinion

The visual text segment of the PSLE often tests a child’s ability to pick up information and use it accurately for the purpose of answering the given question. Get your child to practise that process of discerning which pieces of information are facts and which are opinions - usually of advertisers - by playing a game of Fact v Opinion.

HOW?

Simply flip open the papers and read through the headlines together. First person to say ‘Fact’ or ‘Opinion’ after the headline is read aloud (you can take turns to read it so it’s fair for everyone), wins the round. As a rule, advertorials which are paid articles meant to look like newspaper articles are typically opinions, while facts simply report the state of the world - which should dominate most of the newspaper.

Opinion

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/36/27/70/362770d933da51df0ab3956dc6b2e116.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/36/27/70/362770d933da51df0ab3956dc6b2e116.jpg

Fact

(Source: Channel News Asia accessed 2 May 2017)

(Source: Channel News Asia accessed 2 May 2017)

As you play the game, not only will you and your child get a healthy dose of current affairs for the day, you’re actually also exercising your critical thinking skills and giving your child an opportunity to hone her reading skills for the oral examination!

Activity #2: Photo Match!

In a bid to capture the attention of its readers, most newspapers offer not just exciting headlines, but accompanying pictures. How can we take advantage of this great feature?

HOW?

For this activity, you need to match the picture to the correct headline! Cut out the pictures and their corresponding headlines and then scramble them. This activity would illustrate that a tangible link to the picture must be seen in the headline either by a word or phrase or event. 

Bearing in mind that the composition segment essentially requires this ability to draw links between the helping pictures and the given topic in order for your child to score, why not let your child practise this skill in a fun way, with a resource that you regularly have at your fingertips? Ask your child why he or she chose that headline for that picture? What was the link? Which parts of the picture and heading linked to each other?

This activity is a powerful lesson in coherence, which is yet another concept and skill often needed in the upper levels of education, and in life of course!

Warships from 20 countries to dock at Singapore’s first international maritime review

What would match this headline?

Certainly not this picture of a Monster Truck!

http://www.autoevolution.com/images/news/monster-truck-icon-bigfoot-8778_1.jpg

http://www.autoevolution.com/images/news/monster-truck-icon-bigfoot-8778_1.jpg

More likely this picture showing ships! (Maritime = connected with the sea)

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/warships-from-20-countries-dock-at-singapore-s-first-8847012

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/warships-from-20-countries-dock-at-singapore-s-first-8847012

Summarizers

As headlines are very often the essence of the full length article, learning how to construct them can be a helpful lesson in summary skills.

How?

This time, instead of having your child match the headlines to the picture, you can up the ante by having your child match the headline to the article itself. Now go easy on this one. Bear in mind the reading level of your child and start off by picking shorter articles at the beginning before slowly working your way up to the more mid-length pieces. The content of the article matters too! Picking something more relatable in topic would allow your child to understand the issue at hand better and therefore be better able to match the headlines to the correct write-up.

Short of time or want to change things up a little? You could pick just one article and separate the headline from it. Then, cut up the headline into its constituent words, mix it up, and get your child to string the words together until they put together a headline that matches what they have read from the article.

Summarizers Game Man bites dog v Dog bites man

We hope these suggested activities have helped give you more ideas on how an everyday resource like the newspaper can be a great place to start in helping your child master important thinking skills to do with not just the English examinations, but the world around them.  Leave us a comment to let us know how these go with you and your child or share with us some ideas of your own!

 

About the author: Karina is a stay-at-home-mum to her two babies, with a keen interest in the stuff of languages, ignited no less by her studies as a linguistics major in university and her prior experience teaching at the secondary level.

Post Exam | 3 Important Things to Do After Receiving Your Exam Script

OthersNora Kamal2 Comments

Hello! As the month of May progresses, I am sure many of you have sat for your examinations and are getting back your marked scripts soon. Other than doing corrections when your teachers go through the errors in class, some of you may want to know what else you can do to avoid such mistakes in the future. Below, let me share with you three actions you can take when you get back your scripts, especially for Paper 2. 

3 important things to do after receiving your exam script

1. Ask your child to explain the mistakes

Two important questions to ask your children will be

- Can you explain why this answer is wrong?

- What must you do to avoid making this mistake again?

Very often, parents ask their children, “Do you know why your answer is wrong now?” and I am sure most of the children will say they do. Do they really know?

To really find out, it is definitely more useful to ask them to explain then to ask a “Yes/No” question. If your child is able to explain his or her mistakes to you, then it is likely that they have a better understanding of what went wrong and how they can prevent it in future. 

2. Error analysis

Go through the different sections and pick out the errors your child had made. As your child explains why the answer was wrong, they should be able to identify whether they were careless or was it because they really did not know the answer.

Here are our suggestions on what can be done for the different types of mistakes:

Careless Mistakes

If your answer is the former, you need to get into the habit of checking your work. I know some students find it tedious to go through the paper once they have completed it but imagine all the marks you can save if you are not making careless mistakes. Set aside a few minutes of the time allocated to complete the paper for checking.

For multiple-choice questions, I normally advise my students to put a cross next to the incorrect or inappropriate options so that they will not accidentally shade the wrong oval in the answer sheet. 

For Booklet B where you need to write the answer down, check your spelling and tenses, especially for editing and comprehension cloze. In the comprehension open-ended section, you can refer to our Do You Use TAPS? post to find out more about how to check for mistakes in tenses, answer, punctuation and spelling.

Remember that it is very costly to make careless errors during exams and that such errors are avoidable if you spend just a bit of time checking your work. Instil this habit by making an effort to check all your work, including class and home assignments. The more you do it, the easier it becomes!

Genuine Mistakes

In the table below, I have tried to classify the reasons for the error and in which section of the paper you might have made them. I have also suggested some possible things you can do to help you avoid making similar mistakes in future.

Reason for the error and suggested actions
Reason for the error and suggested actions

3. Setting Targets

Now that you have analysed your errors, it is time to set targets. How do you do that? When setting targets, remember the 2Bs:

(a) Be specific

Specify the area of weakness you are going to focus on. Saying “I need to improve my grammar” or “I must do better for comprehension” will not be helpful. Instead, identify the exact problem (e.g. I do not know how to combine sentences using ‘unless’ and ‘if’) and take direct measures to improve it. This might include practising more of the same type of question. You can also try out some of the suggested actions I have included in the table above.

Being specific also means setting a time framework within which your goal is to be achieved. For example, a deadline can be, “By CA2, I hope to achieve…”

(b) Be realistic

For some of you who have made many errors, it may be an uphill task to try and work on all these areas of weaknesses at one go. Being realistic means starting with the areas that are easier for you to work on and gradually working your way to the more challenging ones. 

Another thing about being realistic is to not set a target that is beyond your reach. For instance, if you had failed a particular section, it is unrealistic to expect to score full marks for it in the next test. Instead, you should aim to better your previous score by a few marks and gradually work towards getting the perfect score.

Our suggestion is to look at each individual section that your paper contains, come up with a simple table for yourself to record the marks achieved for each section for SA1 and your target for each section in CA2 or SA2. It may look like this:

Booklet A Target Setting

Bear in mind to be realistic in setting achievable goals. Even a one-mark increase in each section will possibly amount to a 5 to 8 mark increment overall since there are about 5 to 8 sections in the English paper, depending on the school’s format. For P5 and P6, there are 8 sections in total. Revisit these targets every week to check if you are getting nearer to your goals. Targets can be changed but setting them helps to keep you on track.

The bottom line is, remember that it is not the end of the world if you have not performed as well as you have expected. It is better for you to examine the paper to see where you have gone wrong and focus on the areas where you can make improvements. I hope you will consider the tips I have shared with you in this post. I leave you with these inspiring words:

“There is no failure, except in no longer trying” - Elbert Hubbard

 

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.

Comprehension | What Do I Need to Highlight?

ComprehensionNora Kamal2 Comments

Hello once again! In my previous post, I shared 5 things you can do to prepare for your English paper. In this one, I will focus on the Comprehension Open-ended segment of Paper 2. 

By now, you should be aware that for this part of the paper, there are 10 questions of varying types. We have already compiled the 8 Types of Comprehension Questions in a different post and you can take a look at it for a quick revision. We have also shown you how to answer the true/false and cause/effect questions so you can refer to these posts for more information about these types of questions.

For today’s post, I will be showing you a little more in-depth on how to get to the answer. What do we need to highlight for the above comprehension questions? Why do we need to highlight these words? Let's try and explain these questions today and focus on the following question types:

  1. Factual
  2. Inference
  3. Sequencing
  4. Vocabulary in Context
Comprehension | What Do I Need to Highlight?

What do I need to highlight: Answers requiring complete sentences

For any question that requires you to write down answers in complete sentences (e.g. questions with two lines provided, True/ False questions), you will actually need to highlight two essential things in the question, the "tense" word and the keywords. I will usually advise my children the following:

- Circle tense word
This is a word that indicates whether the answer should be in present or past tense e.g. did, was, had, shot etc.

- Underline the keywords

Keywords allow you to know where to look for the answer and also what type of answer you are looking out for.

Are you ready? I shall illustrate the above by looking at the factual and inferential questions.

1. Factual

To get to the answer, use the following steps:

  1. Circle the tense word in the question.
  2. Highlight the keywords in the question.
  3. Highlight and number the answer in the passage.

Let me demonstrate using an example:

Comprehension Open-ended questions - Factual questions

Q1: Why was the author’s father on the move in the author’s early life? [1m]

Step 1: Circle the tense word in the question.

This step ensures that you always use the correct tense when you write down the answer.

Answering the Comprehension Open-ended Questions

In this case, you need to use the past tense because of the word ‘was’.

Step 2: Highlight the keywords in the question.

Identifying the keywords helps you to locate where the answer is in the passage and ensures that you give the relevant answer.

Highlight the keywords in the question

The word ‘why’ tells you that you should be looking for a reason for the writer’s father being ‘on the move’. Look for the phrase ‘on the move’ in the passage. The answer should be located close to where this phrase is found.

Step 3: Highlight and number the answer in the passage.

Numbering the answer makes it easier for you to check it later on.

Highlight and number the answer in the passage
Factual Questions Answered

A: He was searching for a job.

For Factual questions, it is important to remember to only include relevant details and to omit any unnecessary information. 

2. Inference

The steps are similar to the ones for Factual questions but instead of looking for the answer, you should be looking for clues. Let me show you by using an excerpt:

P5 Catholic High SA1 2015 Compre Open-ended Questions

Q2: What was Zheng Nian’s occupation? [1m]

Step 1: Circle the tense word in the question.

circle the tense word in the question.

Step 2: Highlight the keywords in the question. 
It is important that you understand the meaning of occupation. It means what someone works as or does for a living.

Highlight the keywords in the question.

Step 3: Highlight and number the clues in the passage.

The passage does not explicitly state what Zheng Nian’s occupation was but there are clues to indicate what it was. You need to identify these and then infer what his job could be.

Answering the Comprehension Open-ended Questions | Highlight and number the clues in the passage

These clues indicate that Zheng Nian might be a construction worker since the paragraph draws a similarity between him and the other strangers.

Answering Compre Open-ended questions - Highlight and number the clues

A2: He was a construction worker.

For a more in-depth look into the Inference question, refer to our post on Answering Inferential Questions.


What do I need to highlight: Answers requiring numbers/ quote from the passage

For questions which require you to write in numbers or pick out an exact word/ phrase/ sentence from the passage, you will not need to highlight tenses. However, highlighting of keywords are still extremely important as all the answers need to have come from the passage! Let's take a look at two such types of questions.

3. Sequencing

To answer this question type, you should:

  1. Locate the events in the passage and highlight them in a different colour from the one you used for other questions. This allows you to see the events clearly.
  2. Number the events in the correct order. 

Remember to ascertain when the event happened and NOT when it appears in the passage. For instance, an event that appears in the last paragraph might actually be the first one that happened.

Let’s take a look at the example below:

P5 CHIJ SA1 2015 Compre Open-ended Questions - Sequencing

Q3 Write 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the blanks below to indicate the order in which the events occurred in the story. [1m]

______ The author’s grandmother hugged the author.

______ The author’s grandmother sat in the kitchen.

______ The author’s grandmother had an argument with the author’s mother.

______ The author’s father left the house.

Step 1: Locate the events in the passage and highlight them in a different colour.

Step 2: Number the events in the correct order.

Answering the Comprehension Open-ended questions - Sequencing

A3: 

__2__ The author’s grandmother hugged the author.

__1__ The author’s grandmother sat in the kitchen.

__4__ The author’s grandmother had an argument with the author’s mother.

__3__ The author’s father left the house.

As you can see from the above example, even though the argument between the author’s grandmother and mother appears first in the last paragraph, the event of her father leaving the house actually happened first because of the word ‘earlier’. 

Hence, you need to read carefully and look out for such words when trying to arrange the events in the correct sequence.

4. Vocabulary in Context

In order to answer this question, follow these steps:

1. Highlight the keywords in the question.

This is crucial because the keywords will tell you whether you should look for a word, phrase or sentence. They may also tell you where to look for the answer and whether it should be a synonym or an antonym of the one given in the question.

2 Locate the correct paragraph.

3. Highlight and number the answer.

Let’s work together on the example below:

P5 MGS SA1 2015 - Answering Comprehension Questions Vocabulary in Context

Q4: Which 6-word phrase in paragraph 2 tells us that Val was dragged underwater? [1m]

Step 1: Highlight the keywords in the question.

P5 MGS SA1 2015 Higlight the keywords in question

Step 2: Locate the correct paragraph.

In this instance, you should be looking at paragraph 2.

Step 3: Highlight and number the answer.

P5 MGS SA1 2015 Highlight and number the answer

‘Hauled’ means to be ‘pulled’, which has the same meaning as ‘dragged’ while the phrase ‘the darkness below’ is similar to ‘underwater’. Do count the number of words in the phrase to ensure that your answer will be precise. Here, the highlighted phrase is exactly 6 words. If your answer contains 5 words or 7 words, it will be marked wrong immediately. Be very aware to fulfil the conditions given!

For this type of question, you are usually given a box to write the answer in so you do not need to answer in a complete sentence.

P5 MGS SA1 2015 Answers for Question 4

Sometimes, the question might look like this:

P5 CHIJ SA1 2015 Answering the Comprehension Open-ended questions

If the question is phrased this way, you would need to answer in a complete sentence. You can start your answer with: ‘The sentence is…’ or ‘It is…’ 

The answer to the above question should look like this:

A: It is ‘Each time we moved, we had fewer boxes, not more.’.

Take note of the punctuation in the answer as well.


After answering the questions, you should spend some time checking them carefully. Do read our Do You Use TAPS? post to find out more about the method you can use to check your answers.

I hope you will benefit from what I have shared in my post today. Remember that these techniques are meant to help you in answering the open-ended questions, so the more you put them into practice, the better you are at them. Till next we meet, good luck for your examinations!

 

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.

How to Execute Direct and Indirect Speech Transformation Confidently! | PowerPoint Slides

Sentence Synthesis, GrammarLily Chew4 Comments

In our most recent webinar, we are elated to have the highest number of participants with us to learn about direct and Indirect speech transformation. We hope it has been a fruitful session for everyone and we definitely enjoyed having the company of such a lively crowd! Many of you posed excellent questions regarding this section such as:

  • Is there a fixed way of changing certain keywords in the direct speech? For example, if the question has the word 'yesterday', is it compulsory to change it to 'the day before'? If yes, could you provide a list of such words?
  • The question is given in the indirect speech: Mr Koh asked Peter if he had seen Francis going to the canteen. We are supposed to change this to direct speech; so when do we use "Did" as in "Did you see Francis going to the canteen?" and when to use "Have" as in "Have you seen Francis going to the canteen?" .
  • Is it necessary to include "that" when changing from direct speech to indirect speech? Example, Mrs Tan said that they were late or Mrs Tan said they were late.

For those of you who have missed it, we are sharing with you the slides that were used for the webinar today. In the month of May, we will not be holding a webinar but do continue to look out for other tips in our weekly blog posts. 

Little ones and parents love our online sessions
But don't take our word for it

Lil but Mighty webinars open up to a world of learning opportunities for Kyler.

Every live presentation comes with beautiful visuals that young learners could easily connect with. The participatory approach of the webinars engages Kyler with direct interactions where his questions were acknowledged and answered on the spot. There will also be questions pose by Mrs Chew after every chunk of content delivery to check on students’ understanding before moving on to the next section.

Useful tips are highlighted and reiterated throughout the webinars. Mrs Chew uses fun acronyms that makes it much easier to remember and Kyler could apply what he has learn onto his school work.

With this versatile e-learning format, it allows Kyler to gain access to an online archive when we need to revise for examination.

Thank you for going the extra mile to help Kyler find success.
— CANDY W, PARENT OF KYLER, PRIMARY 6, BUKIT PANJANG PRIMARY SCHOOL

With our vision to build a community of learners in mind, Lil' but Mighty launched LBMchat, a new monthly webinar feature this year. During the live webinar, we focus on teaching a strategy or addressing common misconceptions that children may have regarding English. The best part is the interaction that the live webinar provides: We are able to chat with our participants through the chat window available and viewers can even ask questions to clarify doubts related to the topic as we go along! If you have missed a certain part of the webinar or wish to watch the video again, a replay of the video is available after the session. How exciting is that? (: 

5 Tips To Help You In Your Primary English Exam Revision

Comprehension, Cloze Passage and Editing, Grammar, Sentence Synthesis, Others, Visual Text Comprehension, VocabularyNora Kamal8 Comments

Hello! How are you? I know that most of you are very busy preparing for the semestral assessments that are coming up in the next few weeks. I hope that you are taking care of yourself despite your busy schedules.

This week, I am going to give you five tips that will hopefully aid you in your English exam revision. I can almost see the look of surprise on your faces because my students often tell me, “What is there to revise for? Just go in and hope for the best!” whenever I tell them to revise for their English tests or exams. While there is some truth in what they say - English is unlike Science or History where you need to remember facts - there are still some things you can do before your test or exam. Below, I have listed 5 things you can do to prepare for an English paper:

5 Tips to help with your Primary English Exam Revision

1. Get your grammar groove on

Target Sections: Grammar MCQ, Grammar Cloze, Editing, Synthesis

English is not about knowing hard facts but playing by the rules, i.e. grammar rules. Since a large part of the paper tests your knowledge of grammar rules, make sure that you are up to the mark. 

If you have any doubts (for example, is ‘police’ singular or plural?) you should clarify them early with your teacher or a trusted website such as English Grammar 101 (https://www.englishgrammar101.com/) or Learn English: British Council (https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar). There are also many books on the market which provide a comprehensive guide on grammar rules.

You can also make your own notes using a notebook or note cards. Write down the grammar rules, especially those that are tested often. If you have not been doing that or if you are short of time, we have already compiled 12 question types to know for grammar and you can download the summary to get started! Add on to the list during your revision. You can also accompany the rule with an example to remind you how the rule works. For instance, it can look something like this:

12 question types to know for grammar

This makes revision easier as you can refer to these notes when you are trying out a past year paper and are stuck at a particular question.

2. Spell it right

Target Sections: Editing, Comprehension cloze

Another item you can revise for is spelling. Do you have the following?

  • Spelling lists from your teacher

I am sure you have your spelling lists from your teachers and trust me, they have been thoughtfully put together to help you identify what you need to know to be prepared. Relook at the spelling lists your teacher has given and make an effort to run through them.

  • List of words you are in the habit of misspelling

Good job if you already have been collecting words that you made mistakes in spelling. If you still have not done that, here is how you can put your own list of misspelled words together. Start by looking through the compositions you have written and pick out the misspelled words. The only way you can start making a change is first to be mindful of what to work on.

For more commonly misspelled words and other spelling rules, you can check out the Oxford Dictionary Spelling website (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/spelling).

3. Vocabulary va-va-voom!

Target Sections: Vocabulary MCQ, Visual Text Comprehension, Comprehension Cloze

This is probably one of the hardest areas to revise for as there are just so many words that can be tested! At this point of revision, what can be done? You may wish to revise according to the different types of words that can be tested e.g. idioms, phrasal verbs, adjectives, verbs etc. Knowing that the questions should cover different types of words, it may be a good idea to cover some words from each category.

Other than words for the vocabulary MCQ, it is important for you to remember words for visual text comprehension as well. Check out our list of essential visual text comprehension and familiarise yourself with them before going for your examination. 

Lastly, you should know by now that even if two words have similar meaning, the way they are used depends very much on the words around them. For example, in “_____ by the rules”, we know that it cannot be “followed by the rules” because of “by”. Another word which has the same meaning and is often used with rules will be “abide by”. Try picking out these phrases as you plough through your practices. They may look like this:

visual text comprehension example

These phrases are not dependent on the content of the story but are dependent on the words around them. Knowing them will definitely prepare you well for this section.

4.Straighten your sentence structure

Target Sections: Sentence synthesis, Open-ended Comprehension

Of course you will need to revise commonly tested sentence structures to prepare for the sentence synthesis section! Make sure to revise the different types of synthesis questions for instance, direct/ indirect speech rules, active and passive voice questions, either/ neither nor etc. Check out our shortlisted types of sentence synthesis question types and what to take note of if you are running out of time. These are the most popular question types to appear from our experience!

For the open-ended comprehension, are you aware of what makes a complete sentence and what does not? Do you know how you can avoid lifting? Be absolutely clear as a mistake on the wrong sentence structure is likely to cost you marks! 

5. It’s all about technique

Target Sections: Vocabulary MCQ, Open-ended Comprehension 

By now, you would have been taught the steps to answering most questions. 

For instance, to answer the Vocabulary MCQ question, your teacher would have instructed you to read the question carefully before eliminating the incorrect answers using the content clues. You are then supposed to use language clues (if they are present) to help you choose the most appropriate option.

Click here to learn more about how to tackle the Vocabulary MCQ:

1. Vocabulary Questions Type 1 : So Similar but Different! 

2. Vocabulary Questions Type 2: Phrasal Verbs

3. Vocabulary Questions Type 3: Idioms are a Piece of Cake!

Another example is when answering comprehension questions. I am sure that by now you know that you need to identify the key words in the questions in order to help you locate the answers in the passage and let’s not forget to check your answers systematically too!

Ideally, you should have been practising these steps when you are doing the questions set by your teacher for class practice. However, it is also good to remind yourself of and go over these steps before the test or exam so that they are fresh in your mind. Even if you are completely stumped by the question, these steps may help you in arriving closer to the answer by helping you to eliminate the incorrect ones.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you will consider these tips as you are revising for your exam. All the best and see you soon!

 

About the Author: Nora is an English Teacher at Lil' but Mighty. She is committed to providing students with a dynamic and nurturing environment in which they can grow and develop. One of her greatest strengths as an educator is instilling a love for the English Language in her students.