Learning without reasoning leads to confusion, thinking without learning is wasted effort.
— 孔子 Confucius
My work as the founder of an enrichment centre in Singapore which focuses on Chinese language, involves training mastery and grades fulfilment for Singapore students.
I offer Sec 1-4 Chinese and Higher Chinese bridging and preparatory classes, and have helped students of various backgrounds improve as much as 2-7 grades, in a short span of 6 months to 2 years.
Anything beyond that is too long.
I believe both in gradual improvement of overall language capabilities through the correct mindset, guidance and confidence training, and quick and rapid jump in performance once students attain a standard level of proficiency and grasp the right way to learn and excel Chinese effectively.
As a recipient of the MOE Teaching Award (2013), I graduated from NIE PGDE programme after my NTU Chinese Honours Course. I was also Oral Examiner and Marker for the GCE O Levels Chinese Examinations.
The O-Level Chinese Oral exam is not a breeze for Singaporean Chinese students, or non-native users and speakers of Mandarin alike, as it is not simply casual talk but a test of one’s ability to articulate viewpoints and insights in a clear and coherent way, under the pressure of a test setting.
But while it is not a walk in the park, there are also ways to tackle and handle it correctly and effectively. Other than constant practice, a good exposure to a wide range of general knowledge and keeping up-to-date with the latest happenings and current affairs, does help greatly.
Find out more in this 20-min video by Teacher Jaye of Inspiren Chinese Singapore – the one place to go to to ace the PSLE, O Levels and A-Level Chinese programme.
Should your child take CLB? That is a question on many parents’ minds. This is not a question with a very easy answer. There are many considerations you need to take to decide whether or not you should take CLB.
So you just got your Mid-Year O-Level results for Chinese – and don’t know if you should retake it in Oct-Nov.. Let us help you out a bit.
Whether you should retake very much depends on how well you did for your Oral, vis-as-vis your overall score obtained in Mid-Year 2020.
As you cannot retake your Orals, you have only one more try at the written (Papers 1 & 2) held at the end-of-year, to boost up your grades. As Oral takes up quite a substantial weightage (a whopping 25%) of Overall, it does give us a clue/an indication of how well you have done for the Papers 1 & 2, with respect to Overall grade.
With that in mind, we have come up with a set of scenarios, and the respective suggestions whether to retake the exams at end-of-year.
We need to be prepared for things, and take initiatives early.
This coronavirus scare has shown us how important it is to take precautions and do the necessary preparatory measures to curb possible calamities.
1. Early prevention and containment work
It is quite clear by now, that the early failure by authorities in Wuhan, China, to keep the virus ‘locked’ in close parameters, has contributed greatly to the spread of the virus worldwide, leading to the worst catastrophe on humanity we have seen in decades.
Responsible healthcare work should have involved locking down of the borders of the townships and countyships where the first contagious infection cases were observed and discovered.
The same sort of negligence and complacency, have also been found in the world’s Western counterparts as well, many of whom underestimated the ferocity of the virus and its spread.
Translate that to real-life scenarios, isn’t it human nature to wait for things to evolve and deteriorate to an ‘uncontrollable’ and unbearable level, before we start taking real actions?
The effective learning (and acquiring of learning patterns and habits) of a child needs to start early too. Waiting till when the child is too far behind his or her peers in terms of learning a certain subject, is detrimental to the child’s learning well-being and esteem as a whole.
2. Early quarantine and prevention systems
The countries which have done the best in coronavirus prevention and control, are those that have early lockdown measures, both internally and externally.
Early border controls helped to curb and minimise the inward migration of virus strains, that later led to widespread community spread in many parts of the world.
Translate that to learning: parents are the first defence shields against bad influence and negative attitudes that intrude into and impede a child’s learning and development.
Good ‘preventive measures’ are necessary as safeguards to curb bad practices in learning and behaviour from the onset.
3. Individual responsibility and safeguards
The wearing of masks, and keeping of good personal hygiene, were essential and were the deciding factor in how much individuals within a community were exposed to and susceptible to the virus, too.
As much as governments should take control of the overall healthcare control measures, individuals taking initiative to gear up, and step up their hygiene game, also factored in greatly in the differing results different regions had in virus containment.
Similarly, a child would also need to take personal responsibility for his or her own learning.
While it is tempting and easy to push the blame to teachers and tutors in their guidance and pedagogy methods, parents need to understand that good students must also be ready and willing to learn, for effective teachers to be able to impart knowledge and guidance.
While excessive hoarding is frowned upon, people have also increasingly gotten awakened to the idea of saving for the hard times.
And we are not just talking about savings.
In the early days of the pandemic, there was a major shortage of masks – an essential item that could reduce the risks of infection in populated areas and crowded places. Those who previously kept their own stockpile of virus-prevention masks ‘just in case’, were in luck this time around.
Supermarket visiting also became something not as convenient, with restriction and precautionary measures put in place to ensure safe social distancing, temperature safety and contact tracing.
As bookstores closed, people also started scrambling for e-books and e-consultations, and the luckiest ones are those who have a stockpile of such materials at home, from novels and magazines, to guidebooks and encyclopedias, which now come into good use for many, as they now have more spare time to sit down and read.
5. Alternative remedies and arrangements to keep things going
The coronavirus measures have forced people to rethink their mode of working and carrying out their daily tasks.
For businesses, it was also a time to get creative, as people switch to remote, online modes of communication and transaction.
For individuals, it means working-from-home (wfh), eating-and-cooking at-home, exercising at-home, and chatting with friends from-home.
For students, it means learning from-home, and asking questions via Zoom, Skype and Whatsapp. It also means more self-discipline in waking up for lessons, completing assignments under remote supervision, and self-revision and keeping-up, in spite of postponements or cancellations of numerous tests and exams.
For everyone, it probably also means more alone-time and a chance for self-improvement and reflection. There is now more time to learn survival skills like cooking, pick up a new hobby, or indulge in our favourite past-times, which can now give some long-needed relief and meditation to our usually busy lives.
Having marked O Level Chinese exam papers and examined consecutive years of O Level Oral Exam as a MOE school teacher, Mr Jaye is highly familiar with the Secondary school syllabus.
Being Singapore-born, Teacher Jaye is also effectively bilingual and can explain words, idioms and passages clearly in both languages.
Through guiding students from various backgrounds, Jaye found that the most common problem amongst students is the serious lack of vocab and grammar skills, and this is something that most exam drilling and tuition, cannot help in as students only keep doing practice papers without improving their language standards overall. Most of them still cannot comprehend the passages and questions in the exam paper.
Jaye felt the urgent and essential need to build a strong foundation in a child’s Chinese in terms of language and vocab use, before embarking on practices.
✔Some topics in our Chinese Strengthening Programme™ include: Names of Places and Countries (In Chinese) | Action words and position phrases (How to say it right in Chinese) |Adverbs (Word/phrase-joining in Chinese) | Speaking vs Writing (Differences in wording/phrasing) | Chinese characters (How to recognise and remember better) | Strokes and sizes (How to write Chinese characters the right way) | Reading and comprehending | Prose and story construction | Logical thinking and comprehension | Tackling Cloze (Words with similar meanings/characters) | Functional and argumentative writing | Oral presentation and reasoning skills | Vocabulary practice (Based on required school curriculum)
Originally set up as a language school specialising in bilingual education for Secondary school children, Inspiren has now expanded operations into the professional arena of translation for Singapore businesses and NGOs.
A bilingual Chinese studies (NTU Honours, 2012) major and translation practitioner, Jaye is committed to inspiring inquisitive and motivated learners and critical and logical thinkers who have a passion in what they are doing.
For our translation portfolio, we do courses and mentoring for translating articles, reports, advertisements and professional profiles from English to Chinese, and Chinese to English. We have worked with assignments from clients such as Allen & Gledhill (law firm), and Spacedge Designs (interior design).
“In our decade of mandatory Chinese education in primary and secondary school, we have not met a single teacher who explained with conviction why we should learn the Chinese language. The focus was overwhelmingly on rote learning and examinations, which are sure-fire ways of killing the joy of learning.
Instead of writing formulaic essays with little relevance to how Chinese is written in China or Singapore, students should be encouraged to express their views on hot-button issues, such as the “brown face” saga and Hong Kong’s protests.
After all, what is the point of learning one’s mother tongue if one cannot communicate without reverting to English?”