From 'chalk and talk' to blowing bubbles

From 'chalk and talk' to blowing bubbles
Xinmin Primary teacher Nur Amilia Fendy wiping off bubbles from a Primary 2 pupil’s face during a shared experience session.

It is a Tuesday morning at Xinmin Primary School, and eight-year-old Lois Lim is learning English.

There is not a textbook in sight. Nor is the Primary 2 pupil in class.

Lois and her fellow pupils are outside, blowing bubbles in the school garden. Later, they will head inside and write about it.

It is a far cry from English lessons before the recent education reforms. The subject was taught in a more formal fashion with grammar drills, textbook exercises and lessons on essay structure, recalls Xinmin's principal, Ms Cheah Poh Lian.

These days, the "chalk and talk" style of teaching familiar to parents - where teachers dictate at the blackboard - is increasingly complemented by alternative teaching methods.

Little Lois declares: "It's more fun than just sitting inside all the time, and it makes it easier to write." But there is a serious side to this playtime.

Teachers are recognising that children tend to learn better by interacting more with their environment and other pupils.

Ms Cheah says: "Their learning needs to be very hands-on, they need to touch and feel things."

So these days, an English lesson for lower primary school children may see pupils taking part in various activities before sitting down for a class discussion and writing down their thoughts.

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