Monday, July 21, 2008

Me tired

Today’s been another tiring day. Guess my body is still trying to get used to the idea of coming home from school at 3 pm and not taking my usual afternoon nap. But at least the morning was a slight departure from the usual.

The English Panel of my school organised a spelling competition for all students today. There were no limits to the number of participants so we were quite encouraged by the number of participants. The competition was slightly different from the usual. Instead of a list of random words to spell, the students were given texts in which words would be taken from. This was an idea my colleague, Susan Graham, borrowed from somewhere and I liked it. I found this a more meaningful approach to the spelling competition as at the very least students would require to read as well as memorise words – two in one!

But then, there was a problem. Though we often hear of English as being a second language in Malaysia, but among my students, it might as well be an alien language. Broadly speaking, it does not feature at all in any part of their lives, apart of course from the English lessons they get at school. So because of this, they have the tendency to come up with their versions in pronouncing some words. So, what did we do to overcome this? We made recordings of the text! I was ‘volunteered’ to handle this, and so the recording, the editing and the creation of the audio cds were my responsibility.

So, in our effort, we upped the value of the spelling competition again. The students not only read and memorized words, they also listened to how they are sounded which would invariably (I hope) help them in some way. I remember my parents used to buy my brother and myself a lot of these read-along-with-the-cassette books (Ladybird used to do them, but I’m not sure if they still do), and I think they helped me a great deal in becoming a good reader; not only in how to sound the words I came across, but also on how to read a piece of text expressively. I think reading with expression is an art not many have learned, not even among teachers of the language.

Anyway, back to the competition. Today, I was Master Speller (the judge) for the upper forms (that’s 3, 4 and 5). I was suitably impressed by ability of the contestants in spelling ability. By the end of the second round, we still had more than half still running (participants were eliminated when they couldn’t spell the word within 30 seconds), but this soon dwindled until only two were left: a Form 5 girl, and a Form 3 girl. And for some time, it was a head-to-head fight.

Guess who won?

No comments: