In the blink of an eye, the academic year has come to an end. With the school holidays approaching, I think many of you parents would be making plans to take your children out to celebrate the festivities. While you’re out and about, I thought it would be a great opportunity for you to engage in a simple authentic learning activity with your child which can be done anytime you’re out without having to use any of your own resources.
The necessity of mastering the English language for school assessment is pretty clear to every student. However, how many of them know the real reason why they need to punctuate, spell or string together sentences which are grammatically accurate? Besides communicating intelligibly, a good command of the English language is required because it is all around us. In fact, just have your child do a quick sweep of his / her surroundings in a mall - shop signs, posters, directory etc. are more often than not in English. You will definitely find it easier to understand the people and messages around you if you are proficient in the language!
This simple authentic learning exercise that I am going to introduce will train your child to be more sensitive to looking for errors in text. An additional benefit would be that this heightened sensitivity to errors will aid your child in proofreading his / her writing too!
How can we learn from the myriad of English messages (both visual and audio) used around us then? While some of the English messages may help your child pick up good vocabulary and collocations, not all of them are presented in accurate English! Spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors can actually be found all around.
Referring to an article by The Straits Times (http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/whats-wrong-with-these-signs) earlier this year, numerous errors were spotted on signs around shopping malls. In fact, some members of the public “felt the posters indicate negligence” and “should be rectified”.
Moreover, when your child moves on to Secondary school, he / she will have to tackle editing passages, However, unlike in Primary school, the errors in the editing passage will not be highlighted to them. Therefore, he / she will need to look for the errors themselves and then edit them correctly to score.
Below is an instruction sheet put up by a Thai restaurant in Bugis.
How many errors can you spot?
Here are the errors I’ve spotted!
Did you pick out the same errors as me? Here are two more examples for you to try!
1. Taken from a banner in Daiso
The message on the banner reads
“Japanese Lacquerware, also known as Shikki (漆器) are objects decoratively covered with lacquer (Urushi 漆). Lacquer have been used in Japan as early as 7000 BC., during the Jomon period. This gorgeous lacquerware is often decorated with gold and stands out as one artistic form of Japanese beauty.”
2. Taken from a plastic bag
For the first example, the error is the subject-verb agreement in the sentence
For the second example, the error is the punctuation in the sentence
Admittedly, most of the inaccuracy you see will not pose a huge problem in understanding the message that a sign / poster intends to convey. Nonetheless, if you were to advertise or inform the public about something, it should be presented in accurate English.
Therefore, what I am suggesting is to give your child the task of picking out these errors around them. As an English learner, this will allow them to connect what they have learnt directly with the real world. At the end of it, you can consider incentivising them for the number of errors they have found!
It is our belief at Lil’ but Mighty that if students are able to see how the things they are learning are relevant to their own world, they will be more eager to learn. Consequently, when students are engaged in learning, they will not even realise that they are learning! Therefore, I recommend using this holiday to start introducing authenticity into your child’s learning and start them on the journey of long-term learning!
P.S. Did you manage to spot the mistake in our thumbnail? Leave us a comment below!
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.