Since 2009, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has used STELLAR, short for Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading as the national curriculum. It was piloted in some schools in 2006 but was officially introduced in 2009.
STELLAR takes a more creative, less academic-based approach to the learning of English through developing pupils’ ability to speak and write confidently. This learning approach to the English language encourages pupils to be more creative in their writing by exposing them to a variety of texts such as advertisements and posters.
A less structured approach to learning English
With STELLAR, students learn not through textbooks but with creative activities like storytelling and role-playing, as well as different texts such as news articles.
The three teaching strategies making up the STELLAR model are the Shared Book Approach, the Modified Language Experience Approach and Learning Centres. This approach has also impacted examinations and they now require students to explore their own feelings and opinions. Instead of fixed questions, students now write essays based loosely on a topic and a set of pictures. For oral tests, pupils must provide their personal thoughts on an image (which is part of the same theme as the reading passage) rather than just describing.
These learning activities are aimed at helping children to gain the confidence to speak up in class as they prepare for secondary school and junior college, starting from Primary 1. There are also more discussions and chances for the kids to experience “real-world contexts”, even in Primary 1 English classes.
Preparation tips for Primary 1 English
With such a flexible curriculum, some parents may be unsure about how to prepare their children for primary 1 English.
To help you get started, here are some skills that your child could work on as they prepare for their next great learning adventure in Primary 1.
Knowledge of current affairs
The curriculum is all about preparing kids for the future, so you could introduce your everyday reading material to your child.
Start by introducing current affairs to them through simple newspaper articles and television shows. Kids are naturally curious and would ask questions, so you could build on it and explain more difficult concepts to them. You could also ask your child for his/her opinions about certain topics and start a mini discussion.
Reading a wide range of books
Exposing your child to a wide variety of books with different genres and authors is also key to expanding his/her world view. Plan a fun library outing and allow your child to choose his/her own books, however difficult the books may seem.
Explain the vocabulary to your child and get him/her to explain the words to you as this helps your child remember and understand the story better. Find different types of reading material that would interest your child such as magazines and non-fiction books.
Being able to pick up Primary 1 English vocabulary quickly
There is a focus on building a stronger vocabulary bank through reading materials. You could also play some fun language games to help with remembering and identifying vocabulary.
Some game ideas could be a word scavenger hunt using language materials. You could also have your child read his/her book aloud, identify similar words (same letters, phonetic, etc) and form new sentences with them. You could also help your child learn more interesting words by thinking of synonyms to simpler words – like “minute” or “tiny” instead of “small”. Spinning their own endings from their favourite books or retelling the plot are also exciting games to play with your child.
Having the confidence to speak up in class
One of the main objectives of the Primary 1 English curriculum is contributing and speaking up during lessons. Kids will be required to work on their public speaking skills from a young age and writing programmes can provide the tools needed to help your child in preparation for Primary 1.
Writing programmes such as the MindChamps Writing Programme will aid them in writing across different genres and understanding specific writing tasks. They will have plenty of opportunities for group work and will be encouraged to share their opinions.
The lessons are designed with the MOE English curriculum in mind and will focus on the foundation of Primary 1 preparation and creative thinking. Most importantly, the MindChamps Writing classes will imbibe children with confidence and have them love the language in order to want to continue learning.
Written by Steffi Wee
Keen to find out how the MindChamps Writing programme can help to prepare your child for Primary 1?