After an enlightening day at the last Marshall Cavendish Education workshop, I was more than happy to be invited back to another workshop, this time to How To Speak Well & Excel in Oral.
The workshop was conducted by Dr Cheah, who has authored several books with MCE. The outline of the workshop is to:
- Learn effective techniques to improve your child’s communication and presentation skills by increasing your child’s word bank
- Familiarizing yourself with the oral exam format and identify ways to help your child score.
I liked that many of the tips we learnt are not just for the English Oral examinations but for can also be applied to comprehension, learning languages in general, and it will definitely be useful for scoring in the Chinese language papers as well.
The English Oral examination consists of 2 sections:
For the read aloud section, Dr Cheah advised that children should try and ace this as it’s easy to score! Make sure to have good eye contact with the examiners, and read at a suitable pace. We practiced intonation and pacing, which varies depending on the type of story (e.g. factual or narrative), mood, meaning of the story, etc. I will definitely get the kids to read aloud more, especially to each other or the younger ones.
The second part of the oral test is a little more difficult to prep for. Stimulus based conversation requires students to converse with the examiner on a topic. It could be a photo or drawing, and most likely related to the text passage. The highest marks are awarded for being able to articulate and elaborate on ideas fluently, while displaying self-confidence in conversing.
My take away from the session is that we should ask children about their opinions on all kinds of matters in every day life, so that they get used to expressing themselves. The oral exam is not a test on a topic, but on language. So if children are not familiar with the scenario, it is fine to confess that you don’t, but you can guess and describe what is happening. Confidence is key, so do practice getting children to stand up and talk at home on a topic, and don’t forget to prompt them to think and elaborate further!
Dr Cheah also talked about the importance of a wide vocabulary. Did you know that you need at least 17 exposures to a word to learn it?? In the workshop we learnt some games to extend word knowledge and discussed other aspects of learning vocabulary.
We looked at some examples of text that used good descriptive words, and picked out the key words to help further understand the story behind the text.
Dr Cheah also recommended listening to audio books. A while ago we started borrowing some audio books from our library. We really enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris’s reading of The Bippolo Seed by Dr Seuss (actually, it was stellar!) as well as the other stories on that CD. As I often talk to the kids about the voices behind animation, it was also interesting for the kids that many of the actors from that recording were somewhat familiar to them – Neil Patrick Harris from Smurfs, Joan Cusak as Jessie the cowgirl from Toy Story, Jason Lee as Dave from Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Peter Dinklage from Pixels. Together we have marveled at how well one artist can portray so many characters, as it is usually just one person reading the entire story. Both the kids and I have learnt to be more animated, and to vary our voices depending on speech. You can also borrow this online on Overdrive from our National Library.
I like that MCE workshops are all in line with what MOE is requiring of students, and in each workshop they will spend some time highlighting the requirements set by MOE in exams. I find this useful in making sure that our children are able to study smart.
I also find that trainers are all very moderate in their approach. That is, they do not make parents overly anxious or worried over the PSLE. Perhaps this is because many of them have extensive experience in the education industry, and are NOT running a hot house or tuition centre. In fact, at the Oral workshop, Dr Cheah reminded us that the PSLE is just one small milestone in our children’s lives. And while we often balk at what is required of the children, she said that the syllabus is quite doable. Ok. Deep breaths!
At this workshop, I met a few parents whom I had met at the previous Maths workshop. Repeat customers surely means that we all found the workshops useful right? I find the MCE workshops so insightful and valuable for any parent! Coming up next will be my review on the Effective Strategies for Chinese Composition Writing workshop also by Marshall Cavendish Education!
You can find out more about the various workshops from the Marshall Cavendish website (warning: the website isn’t the most user friendly!), or their Facebook page. They still have a few more workshops for the month of June coming up, and later in the year as well. I’m convinced I need to attend more of such workshops!
Disclaimer: I was invited to participate in this workshop by Marshall Cavendish Education, all opinions are 100% my own