Lil' but Mighty English Primary Tuition

App-y Tuesday: Prep your Prepositions with these Apps!

GrammarDelia SiowComment

Hello everyone! It is Ms Siow here again! I hope you all had an enjoyable National Day break. 

To the Primary Six students who will be sitting for their PSLE Orals this Thursday and Friday, all the best! 

I’m sure many of you are in the midst of doing intense revision and practices. As a follow up to my previous post on prepositions, I thought I would share with you three apps which you can download if you’re looking for an effective and fun way to learn prepositions. Each app is designed for different people / levels, and has its own strengths. Depending on what you need, you can try these apps out and pick the one you find most beneficial for yourself. Parents can also use them as a break time activity with your children!

Below for each app, we have shared with you how they can be used and their recommended levels. These are just guidelines and you are free to use any of these apps depending on your child’s proficiency in the language. 

Appy-Tuesday: Prep your Prepositions with these Apps!

App #1: English Prepositions Grammar Quiz

Recommended Level: Primary 3 and 4

A fun app where you earn points as you answer. Choose to play on the endless mode where you earn gold coins for correct answer and race against time to answer each question before the allotted time is up. Definitely an exciting game to keep you on your toes!

You can download the app here!

App #2: Preposition Grammar Quiz with Trend Articles

Recommended Level: Primary 5 and 6

This app is one of my favourites. Remember how I mentioned in my previous post that reading widely and “differently” will help to boost your knowledge of prepositions? With this app, you’ll get to kill two birds with one stone! 

Not only do you get to practise prepositions in the quiz, but you also get the option of reading the article where the question posed came from. All questions are taken from current articles from the New York Times. As these are news articles, the content and language may be more suitable for higher levels, particularly Primary Six students.

For each question, a line from the actual article will be shown with the missing preposition. When you complete the question successfully, you will be asked if you would like to read the article or to move on to the next question.

If the article piques your interest, I strongly encourage you to spare some time reading it. Simply click on “Read This Article” and you will be immediately redirected to the New York Times page.

As many of you are aware, at Primary Five and Six, you are exposed to a wider variety of texts. One of the most challenging text types is non-fiction passages. Increasing your familiarity with non-fiction passages will help to mitigate this challenge and a good place to start will definitely be through reading newspaper articles. The contextualised questions also make this a helpful tool for children who are working on the cloze passage component. On top of that, you learn vocabulary, collocations and increase your general knowledge through reading.

You can download the app here!

App #3: Enjoy Preposition

Recommended Level: Primary 4 and 5

The last app offers both quiz and flashcard options to help you in your learning. You would get a series of ten questions for each quiz.

After each set, you can choose to review the questions (especially if you have made any mistakes and want to clarify the correct answer), replay (you will start a new quiz) or go back to the home page.

You can download the app here!

Just a word of caution - the above-mentioned apps are free so do expect advertisements to pop up from time to time. However, they shouldn’t interfere with your usage of the app too much. 

As you can see, there are many ways to boost your mastery of the language and it does not always have to done through memorisation, doing plenty of grammar exercises or reading books. Incorporate new ways into what you’ve been doing to create some thrill into your routine. 

Do let me know what you think of these apps and if you have found them helpful in your learning. I definitely hope that you had enjoyed learning as much as I had enjoyed sharing with you! See you again soon!

Ms Siow

About the Author: Ms Delia Siow is a dedicated teacher who is committed to providing an environment where a child can grow and thrive. She enjoys developing strategies to help students learn in a fun and meaningful way. Through her lessons, she hopes to help students lay a sound foundation in grammar and gain independence in their work. She strongly believes that good grammar is essential in students to gain proficiency in the language and finds joy in watching the bricks of their strong grammar foundation take form. 

Tricky Prepositions to Clarify Before Your Exam

GrammarDelia SiowComment

Happy National Day, everyone! I am Ms Siow. This is my first time greeting all of you officially. As the latest member of the Lil’ but Mighty village, I am really excited to be able to embark on this journey to help you all grow in the English language!

Tricky Prepositions to Clarify Before Your Exam

For my first ever blogpost, I thought I would share about prepositions - something I find very apt as it is definitely a little but mighty word in the English language. Unfortunately, the importance of this group of words is often neglected. As short words that do not have much meaning on their own, they are often overlooked. However, do you know that these little words actually act as vital markers to the structure of a sentence? When we combine prepositions with verbs, adjectives and nouns, they indicate relationships between other words or communicate meaning in a sentence.

More importantly, your knowledge of prepositions can be tested in numerous sections in Paper 2 -  Grammar MCQ, Vocabulary MCQ, Grammar Cloze, Comprehension Cloze and Editing. That’s more than half of the components in Paper 2!

Needless to say, having a good grasp of prepositions will help you go a long way. So for today, let’s look at four commonly mistaken preposition pairings, shall we?

1. covered in / with / by

Covered in / with: used to express that the covering is spread all over the object but may not necessarily hide it 

Example: Sloths are covered in / with algae. 

Covered by: used to express that the covering actually hides something it is covering

Example: Her face was covered by her hands.

Do note that the meanings for covered in, with and by are very similar and these three prepositions can be used almost interchangeably. However, some subtle nuances may apply and it is best to consider the context before answering.

We could not see the house as it was covered by snow. (the house is hidden from view)

When we reached the house, it was covered in / with snow. (the house has a layer of snow)

2. good at / with

Good at: used to refer to areas of expertise or activities

Example: Paul is good at Math.

Good with: used to refer to specific objects or people

Example: Paul is good with numbers.

good at/ with

3. abide by / comply with / adhere to / conform to

Definition: to accept or obey an agreement, decision, or rule

These phrasal verbs mean the same thing but are commonly tested as the verbs go with different prepositions. It will be useful for you to learn the four pairs of words by heart!

abide by / comply with
adhere to
Conform to

4. made of / from

Made of: used when the material the subject consists of does not change during the process of making it

Example: The house is made of bricks. (The bricks are still in its original form and have not changed)

Made from: used when the material / ingredient has changed its form during the process of making the subject

Example: This juice is made from natural fruits. (The fruits have disappeared. It has transformed into liquid juice)

made of / from

I hope that you’ve found these tricky prepositions pairings useful and can differentiate the different use of prepositions better now! Below is a table summarising what we’ve covered today:

Summary of Prepositions

I’m sure you would have realised by now that there are neither rules nor logical ways of deducing which preposition goes with the particular noun, verb or adjective. As such, the expression must be learned as a whole. 

Hence, the best way to learn which prepositions to go with which words would be to read more, read widely and read “differently”. Increasing your exposure to a variety of text by reading outside of your comfort zone will help to expand your knowledge of prepositions. When you come across useful phrases, jot them down in a notebook and learn them by heart. Of course, more practice would also help to increase your familiarity with the usage of prepositions.

If you are someone who is a visual learner and prefer to learn through the use of gadgets, stay tuned for my next post on useful apps that will aid you in your learning! 

Ms Siow

About the Author: Ms Delia Siow is a dedicated teacher who is committed to providing an environment where a child can grow and thrive. She enjoys developing strategies to help students learn in a fun and meaningful way. Through her lessons, she hopes to help students lay a sound foundation in grammar and gain independence in their work. She strongly believes that good grammar is essential in students to gain proficiency in the language and finds joy in watching the bricks of their strong grammar foundation take form. 


PSLE 2017 | Oral Vocabulary by Topic!

Downloads, OralLily ChewComment

We are officially 4 weeks away from the PSLE Oral examination. However before that, many of the Primary Six children should be getting ready for their final official practice: the preliminary oral examination, happening these few weeks.

As we prepare our Lil' ones at the centre for the upcoming examinations, we looked at the topics tested in the past two years.

What we noticed is that the topics tested are those that every child can identify with and should have experience of. This helps to ensure fairness to each child that is tested. It also means that nothing is considered too obvious or common to be tested.

How can you prepare for the topics as you are nearing the examinations then? By this juncture, most of you should be poring through previous oral practices done with your teachers or in the books you purchased. I realise that some children merely read through a page while others will be knitting their brows as they try to commit the avalanche of information to memory. Can you really memorise an entire answer? I am afraid that will be rather difficult and stressful. There must be a way to make revision and learning more effective and efficient? 

Bite-sized is always better!

Today, we would like to share with you a way to boost your vocabulary and remember content for various oral topics. It is simply to take down important vocabulary for the oral topic as you practise. Instead of memorising an entire model answer, try remembering key vocabulary related to each topic. You know that bite-sized learning is always easier. 

Having rich vocabulary definitely helps to bump up your language score but in addition, remembering these phrases may trigger important content for your answers too. A list that is compiled for the topic of "health and fitness/ sports" may look like this:

 
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 1.10.54 am.png
 

The main point is to collect these important vocabulary according to main topics so that it is easier for you to revise at a glance during preparation. Here are some ideas of other topics that we feel are possible to be tested during the oral examination this year and which you should compile the vocabulary list for:

1. leisure/ hobbies/ entertainment
2. leadership, recycling/ environment
3. technology/ internet
4. neighbours and your neighbourhood
5. road safety

Eventually, your list may look something like that:

How can you use this list? 

  1. You may wish to read up on one topic each day and share the vocabulary with someone such as your parents or a friend. (It is always nice to revise together!)
  2. Read up on the vocabulary for the related topic before practising questions on that topic. e.g. If the practice topic is about sports, read up the phrases for health and fitness/sports before you start the practice with someone. During the practice, make sure to apply the phrases as much as possible.
  3. Get someone to just randomly choose a topic for you and you should try and name 3 to 5 of the phrases recorded under that topic.
  4. Add on vocabulary that is relevant to each topic or even start a new topic. 

If there is a word or phrase which you are not certain about, be sure to check out the dictionary so that you can use them accurately. For parents who would like to start this early with your child who is not yet taking the PSLE,  it may be good help him or her to get started by selecting a few phrases/ words which are easier and build from there.

Wish you could have an instant list?

For those of you who do not have the time to sit through the various topics and compile your vocabulary list, we have good news for you. We have actually compiled a list consisting of up to 13 commonly tested topics, including those mentioned above and you can find this list now in our Lil' Chatterbox course!

All the best, Primary Six warriors and impress the examiners with some golden vocabulary!

P.S. For those who have already purchased the course, you will be receiving the vocabulary list of 13 commonly test topics free! They have been uploaded into the online course. You can login here to access and download the list.


The Lil' Chatterbox Course

If you are still looking for a way to do better for your oral and need a structured approach to craft your answers in the stimulus-based conversation section, we are happy to share with you that our online oral course, "Lil' Chatterbox" is now available! 

Other than our compilation of vocabulary, you will also be getting the videos to walk you through our simple yet effective framework to answer the SBC questions as well as the Oral Workbook consisting of 9 practices with model answers. Find out more about this essential PSLE English oral course here now.

 
Lil' Chatterbox - Essential PSLE Oral Online Course
 

Learning Idioms: Have The Upper Hand With These 3 Tips

VocabularyNora KamalComment

Hello! It has been quite a while since I last wrote a blog post. I hope you are getting into the swing of things as term 3 progresses. In this post, I am going to expand on a topic that I have touched on before. 

Previously, I wrote about how one of the questions in the Vocabulary MCQ section of Paper 2 tests your knowledge of common English idioms, and how you go about answering such a question. In this follow-up post, I am going to recommend to you the S.A.T. (Super.Awesome.Terrific) way to conquer these common idioms.

Learning Idioms

1. Sort idioms according to types

There are so many idioms out there but do not despair. The most effective way to learn them is to get organised! 

Categorise them according to topic or theme, for instance, some idioms can be sorted according to colour (e.g. a bolt from the blue, to have a green thumb, the silver screen) while others focus on animals (e.g. an eager beaver, a bull in a china shop, a fish out of water). Arranging the idioms in this manner makes it less of an uphill battle for you to learn them. 

For ideas on the different categories, the three websites listed below can be a good place to start:

2. Add pictures or your own illustrations

You may or may not be a visual learner but I always find it easier to remember when there is a picture to go along with the words, especially when learning new vocabulary. It does not matter if you are not Picasso or Van Gogh and cannot draw to save your life (like me); a simple illustration will do! What matters is that the drawing makes sense to you, and helps you to remember the idiom and what it means.

Check out this website (https://www.myenglishteacher.eu/blog/) which has some really lovely illustrations that accompany the idioms. Here’s an example:

3. Trawl through past year papers and compile a list of idioms

Other than websites and books on idioms, another treasure trove of information is the past year papers. Look at the example below:

Pei Hwa P6 Prelim Paper 2016 Idioms example

From a question like the one shown above, there are four idioms for you to look at. It will be good for you to jot down the idiom and its meaning in a notebook, especially if it is an idiom you have never heard of before. Before you know it, you would have created your own list of idioms.

I hope the three tips I have suggested will help you in your quest to learn and remember idioms. Like I have mentioned before, the best way to internalise new vocabulary is to use it, either in your speech or writing. As such, don’t just limit the idioms you have learnt for the Vocabulary MCQ section. You should actively use them in your compositions as well as in your oral interactions. Used appropriately, they will definitely help to add colour to your work.

Till we meet again, go forth and have fun with idioms!

 

 

 

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.

Authentic Learning | A New Way to Read the News

Visual Text Comprehension, English in the Real WorldLily ChewComment

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.