The PSLE oral component is arriving soon and I have been having extra lessons with my P6 students this holiday to train them for the upcoming exam. Here are some tips for P6 parents. Please bear in mind that these are methods that I use and your child’s tutor may use a different method. So far, they have worked well with my previous batches of P6 students.
There are 3 parts in the Oral Component for upper-primary English– Reading, Picture Discussion and Conversation
For this blog entry, I shall talk about Picture Discussion as it is probably the hardest of the three parts to master. Three main points are used to grade the student:
a) Organized in description.
I train my students to mentally number the picture. For example, Point number 1 is always a general description of the picture. E.g. It is probably a weekend as the zoo is crowded with visitors. Or the shopping mall is clean and spacious. The points that come after are the major events occurring in the picture that the student needs to talk about. By mentally numbering the points, it allows them to connect the important points with one another to give the picture conversation a smooth flow.
b) Able to explain and interpret all situations
I train my students to avoid using phrases and words such as ‘I can see…’ ‘On the left-hand side..’ ‘behind the boy..’ ‘in the centre of..’
I encourage them to focus on describing the picture as if telling a story or observing from afar and narrating to a friend who is unable to see. The use of adjectives and adverbs is important and so is giving opinions and predicting the next possible outcome.
2) Language and Vocabulary
a) Varied sentence structure most of the time.
My students are taught to express opinion in a variety of ways and by eliminating the ‘I can see…’ and the direction –focused explanation, they are ‘forced’ to interpret what they see with different sentence structures for each point.
b) Use a wide span of vocabulary
Adjectives, adverbs, descriptive phrases, similes, metaphors etc
c) Without grammatical mistakes (requires a lot of training!!! )
Use the present tense, present continuous tense.
3) Response to prompting
a) Responds spontaneously without prompting further
Prompting by a teacher is not necessarily a bad thing. If the student has followed the rules of good Picture Discussion but in his nervousness, missed out a point, a prompt by the teacher is a second chance. The student should respond spontaneously and in an organized manner with correct vocabulary and tenses.