We consult an educational expert to bring you four important tips that will help your child in primary six to score in his upcoming PSLE English oral.
Come 17 August 2017, your kids in primary six will be sitting for their English oral examination as part of the PSLE. As you probably already know by now, the PSLE English oral examination comprises two components: reading aloud and a stimulus-based conversation. Does that sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be at all, actually. While the oral component of the PSLE English examination still remains, there’s no denying that its aspects have changed significantly over the past two decades.
“There used to be a time when most of us unanimously felt that the oral examination component was an area where we can attain a good number of marks,” says Gabriel Suppiah, Dean of Score Campus. “Well, like all good things in life, this has changed. Students seem to be facing some challenges in their oral examination today, and we are here to address some of the areas they can work on to ace the upcoming PSLE English oral.”
So grab a notepad and list down these pointers as Gabriel walks us through four important aspects that will help your child to score in his PSLE English oral!
1. Stop thinking too much
What is an oral examination folks? It is essentially a time constrained environment (usually ten minutes) where a child’s reading and answering skills are being evaluated. So, in simple layman terms, we are just going to have a chat. The fancy name given to this is “PSLE English oral” or “oral examination”.
I would like for you (as you read this) to know and realise that some of these tests and examinations are not as difficult as we think they are and the first tip would be to take a step back, look at it and say this: “All my child needs to do is to read and talk for ten minutes.” I am sure your twelve-year-old can do that pretty well, yes?
So what can you do at home to prepare? Keep reinforcing the idea that it is simply a conversation they are going to have with the examiner. Remember that acing the PSLE English oral is really 80% psychology and 20% techniques, so do not look down on the mental element!
(See also: PSLE English – 6 Tips to Help Your Child Revise)
2. Have a conversation at home
Remember that you are aiding the process of preparation for the oral examination, and not replicating the scenario in school. You can let the teachers do that while you as a parent can keep it light hearted at home. So open up the papers and pick up a conversation on some advertisements including the movie sections. Keep it relevant and likeable.
In this setting, if it is relaxing and comfortable enough (which is your job as a parent), you can expect some real conversation that you can build on.
Movie poster: War of Planet of The Apes
Your kids can study the movie poster and a dialogue can be created around it. What should they look out for?
- What could be the movie about? (Ape vs Ape or Man Vs Ape, and who is the bad guy here?)
- What is your idea of what the movie is about?
- What are the tangible and intangible motives you can sense from the poster?
Do note that the visual stimulus shown during the actual oral examination may not be as exciting as a movie poster. So this is where we learn again that you are aiding the process of learning and not recreating one. I’ve said it twice because it is just that important!
3. Practice eye contact and facial expressions
Monotonous reading and conversations will put anyone to sleep, so be casual about the style of presentation. As you are going through these practice sessions with your kids, make sure they are able to express through emotions and subtle body movements. Remind them to look into the examiner’s eyes when speaking – that always gets them to give a few extra marks. Some appropriate humour goes a long way too!
But please, only do this for about 30 minutes, as anything longer than that will test your creative flow. As for the reading, please do refrain from multi-pitch reading that could pierce the ears of the examiner. This was an extremely dramatic way of reading that was taught in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. But in the current Internet age, we expect realism. So, have a conversation with the examiner the way you would with a friend.
4. Pay attention to vocabulary, structure and development
This big word scares our kids. But think about it. We all have these moments when we are reading an article and we come across a word we don’t understand. If the article’s writer is good, we can make our best educated guess to understand the sentence. So, that is the key. Work on understanding the sentence and not the word itself.
John sucks his thumb and Mary has a weird habit of playing with her toes. I guess we all have our eccentric moments.
Look at the word in bold above. Does it sound completely foreign to you? But wait – read the two sentences. What is the author trying to say? He or she is pointing out weird behaviours. So the possibility of the meaning of the word being related to weird behaviours is pretty high. So, take your wildest best guess and shoot the answer out with confidence.
We live in a world of Whatsapp, Internet lingo, abbreviations and hashtags. Yes, it would be a dream if we could reinvent oral examinations to fit the world of today but…no! It is still what it is and we have to deal with it. Proper sentence structures are crucial to scoring in oral examinations. So it is really about controlling the tongue when it comes to abbreviations and Internet lingo. Remind your child that though it may be convenient it is not wanted during his PSLE English oral.
The building of a story is crucial during the stimulus-based conversation component of the PSLE English oral. The creative element of the oral examination is all about going outside the norms and creating possible extensions in relation to the visual stimulus presented. Key questions in exploring this:
- What is this visual stimulus about?
- What is trying to be conveyed?
- What are the hidden meanings?
- Who are the people involved?
- How are these people affected?
- How would I react in such a scenario?
There are so many more angles from which you can view a visual stimulus. Do not look at it as an examination but rather, a story and build upon it. Be the author of authors and the journalist of journalists! This is what oral examinations are all about. Let the stress of it come from the outside world. But when at home, the preparation process can be made pleasant and calming if parents play their part.
Ready to impart what you’ve just learnt to your child so that he can go on to score in his PSLE English oral? All the best!