Authentic Learning | Beware of Crimes! (And what they can teach you.)

You’ve seen them at your lift landings and you’ve seen them on Crime Watch. No, we’re not talking about your new neighbours. We’re talking about these crime prevention posters put up by the Singapore Police Force, warning people not to fall for scams.

It seems like these con artists are everywhere and their points of persuasion range from the tragic news of kidnap to happier ones like lottery winnings. More recent experiences have had individuals falling prey to scam calls from individuals pretending to be police officers, even!

Now you might be wondering, what does knowing about this have to do with English? 

As it turns out, there’s meaning and resource aplenty to be found in reading such posters! Here are but three ways you and your child can learn more about English and how helpful it can be for the examinations, from looking at things we encounter every day. 

Authentic resources: Posters, brochures, newspaper articles, television programmes

Areas that can be applied for assessment: Writing, Oral, Cloze passage, Vocabulary

Beware of Crimes


1. Building Real Characters

When we look at them, we not only gain an understanding of the ‘type’ of people that scammers might be targeting and so avoid being these people in the first place, but also a source of ideas for thinking up characters in a composition that might involve such storylines. From studying these posters together, you and your child might be able to draw out a list of characteristics that such scammers look out for in their victims. For one, it seems typical that scammers rely on the victims’ ignorance of such scams, before drawing on other aspects like the victims’ loneliness, greed or fear. If you are ready for more, you can also take note of the characteristics of these scammers as well and how they might have presented themselves to their potential victims.

Scammer and Victim
Descriptions of Scammer and Victim

With lists like this, and some real world learning about how to guard themselves from such compromising situations, your children will be ready with some convincing characters for their next composition or discussion during oral!

2. Growing Storylines

You can both try playing Sherlock as well by assembling a crime wall of sorts by looking at newspaper articles reporting such scams. Knowing the relationship between the people involved in the crime and how such a crime happened will give your child an authentic way of understanding how a problem could have taken place and how it was resolved

Help your child identify who the victims are and how they came to meet the scammer or how the scammer identified the victim as his or her latest target. Both of you could then pick out information like what the scammer said, how the victim reacted which led to the problem of being cheated, and how the scammer was apprehended. If the scammer has not yet been caught, encourage your child to follow the news for more updates on this particular crime. 

This activity could even see you both tracking the various types of scams and finding similarities between the crimes as you look for the how’s and why’s of the problem and finally, the solutions.  Be sure to make it a really visual affair! Use the posters or the pictures in articles if you’d like to make it even more realistic.

Growing storylines of scammer and victim

3. Picking up Vocabulary

You would notice that such crime reports and posters use similar phrases and vocabulary to talk about and discuss these crimes. These are things you and your child could pick up as well, to write into their existing notebook of vocabulary words or even to add to your (now-elaborate) crime wall. Your child can choose to jot down the meaning, write a sentence or even write down the sentence from the article where the vocabulary was used. Phrases like ‘fall victim to’, ‘be wary of’ and ‘lodge a report’ or words like ‘remit’ and ‘extortion’ are great additions to your child’s compositions when they are looking to write about a similar situation. With these words at the back of their mind, formulating their sentences and using them to relay the situation accurately would make for a more enjoyable writing experience.

Meaning and sentences of scam words

And there you have it - some simple ways to make learning English fun and relevant to what is happening in the world around us! Today’s post had merely touched on one particular type of crime, scams. The activities mentioned above can extend to other types of crimes such as shoplifting, robbery, animal abuse, vandalism and more. As long as it is a possible idea for writing, do seize it!  

Let us know how these ideas go and leave a comment on how you have made learning English exciting and engaging for your child too (:   

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.