Teaching English using the newspapers


The Straits Times held its first ever forum for parents on Dec 21 last year. I was among the more than 100 parents who went to SPH to attend the 3.5 hour session. (Saw my face in the photo on Dec 22 ST?)

For $30, we were given a goody bag with two booklets on how to use the papers to teach your child, plus an umbrella, and served lunch and tea. Was that value for money or not?

I have been wanting to learn how to teach English using the newspapers for ages. For years, I would cut reviews, articles, and even advertisements for Andreas and Ivan to read when they were in primary school, pointing out words that might be useful for cloze passages. Even now, I would come across a passage and put a boy’s name at the top when I thought the passage might be useful. Ivan’s name appears the most times as Economics and Current Affairs are important topics for him. For Andreas, it’s marketing and for Aaron, stories regarding children, or integrity and honesty.

Thus, I was excited to attend the event, hoping for more tips to add on to my own.

The forums were first organized for primary and secondary school teachers and many parents had called to ask if they could attend the Teachers’ Forum, and so SPH decided to organize one for parents.

There were prominent speakers – A secondary school teacher, Journalist Marc Lim and Andy Chen. Serene Goh – editor for Little Red Dot and In (papers for primary and secondary schools respectively) and ex-teacher Sonia Sng also gave many helpful hints.

Was it helpful for me? I felt it was too general. The forum felt more like how a parent can use the Straits Times to interest the child to read the papers than to teach English per se, unless one is using the Schools’ papers. Of course, reading ST would be helpful for English but I had expected more I guess. Ex-teacher Sonia Sng gave many good examples on the use of newspapers as a resource that a layman parent like me would never have thought of, and would still have trouble finding resources in it to teach, but I am trying. Sometimes, an unqualified person just fail to see the opportunity given.

So far, Aaron has been quite cooperative in reading aloud (a must practice for oral, said the teacher) as the passages I had chosen were relatively short.

The first passage was from Mypaper, on Honduran kids working in coffee plantation. After reading, we list out the information on coffee and Honduras, and special words associated with plantation.

The second passage was also from Mypaper on Poly’s latecomers. For that, we look for words associated with schools, like absent, module, barred, semester, penalise, etc. Looks easy, but sometimes I can’t even do his cloze passages.

With the rate I am going, I may just qualify to become an English tutor next time.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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