MYTH ONE: YOU CAN MEMORISE/COPY MODEL COMPOSITIONS WHOLESALE.
Many students and tutors think that memorizing or copying out large chunks of model compositions available in guidebooks or assessment books will lead to high grades in the narrative writing component of the PSLE Writing Component. They claim that in many cases where a student memorizes or copies out large aspects of model compositions, that student gets a marked improvement in grades. Therefore, by logic, it must be an effective method.
We agree that memorizing model compositions can lead to an increase in grades in some cases. Where the student’s foundation in narrative writing is weak, his/her typical score might be in the range of a low pass. Copying out a model composition will definitely lead to an above-average grade since a model composition possesses some amount of creative writing, good language and effective organization.
However, students, parents and tutors will realize that memorizing model compositions will almost never get the student an A* grade. This level of attainment is reserved for those who churn out truly creative pieces which truly impresses the marker. In terms of content, an A* essay must be interesting and gripping, with twists and turns inherent in itself. In the Primary 6 cohort where arguably more than half of the students probably have seen model compositions in some kind or form, copying them out is certainly not novel nor creative.
MYTH TWO: COMPOSITION WRITING CANNOT BE HONED IF THE STUDENT’S FOUNDATION IS WEAK
In reply to the above myth, some parents might remark that their child’s foundation is “very weak” and with mere weeks remaining till the PSLE, they have no choice but to make them memorize essays wholesale – how else can the child write out more than 250 words which flow coherently? Some parents or students might even choose to concentrate on other subjects or other components of the PSLE English – resigned to getting a mediocre score of 25 or 26 for the composition component and rather focusing on other attainables instead.
The truth is, a “poor” English foundation only affects a portion of the composition writing! Anyone who has taken a look at the PSLE narrative writing mark breakdown knows that composition writing is just as much (if not more) about content and organization as it is about language use. A “poorer” student can definitely score decently well if he can think of an interesting plot and integrate it with effective paragraphing. Even so, it is not correct to label this student a “poorer” one since language use and English language skills can be trained using certain methods in a short but reasonable time span.
MYTH THREE: USE BIG WORDS TO SCORE BIG MARKS
It is not unusual to see a student pouring over “creative language use” booklets memorizing supposed “big words and phrases” such as “the sunshine shimmering over the clear blue sky” or “in the twinkling of an eye”. It is true that using similes, proverbs and jargons may lead to a higher score as it reflects well on a child’s language use, but this is premised upon the student using the phrases or words correctly and appropriately.
Our prior experience with students who learn or memorise words from such booklets are such that they often try to twist and turn the storyline of their essays so that they can fit the words in. A common, and certainly mistaken, belief is that the more these proverbs or phrases appear, the higher their score will be. The truth is that every teacher who marks the PSLE English narrative writing component looks at the totality of the essay rather than the number of good phrases which appear. He/she can certainly tell the difference between a student who is able to put his language ability to good use, and one who tries to fit a square pog into a round hole. Our advice to students who belong to the latter is to learn different literary techniques and devices so as to come up with truly novel and creative phrases in the examination.
CLINCHING THAT A * FOR PSLE ORAL AND WRITING: A SEMINAR
As law students, debate coaches and trainers who have trained thousands of hours, we are familiar with learning techniques and are committed to helping each child discover their potential. The course “Clinching that A* in PSLE Oral and Writing” is meant to cover skills such as plot brainstorming, paragraphing and creating literary devices. In this 6 hour seminar, not only do we debunk the myths above, we will impart to each student the skills and techniques needed to shine in the narrative writing component. We also help them to formulate an action plan for the rest of the PSLE preparation period – allowing them to harness their time, which is definitely ticking down each day.
Seats are getting more limited by the day, and the closing date for registration, 30 July, inches ever closer. The seminar will be held at the Singapore Recreation Club on 5 August 2012, from 10AM to 5PM. To sign up, please contact Nadira at firstname.lastname@example.org or dial 6595 0548.
To find out more about the seminar, please do visit our website at http://thewriteclique.com.
Thank you so much for your kind attention, and we truly wish every child all the best in their preparation.
The trainers of The Write Clique LLP
Righting Wrongs by Writing Right