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Forum: How to Teach English in Primary Classes

Moderator Yau Seen Hui Professor Lim Lim Rou Yunn

Professor Chan Chan Sing Yung Professor Lau Lau Siew Hung
Moderator : Good morning to everyone. I am Yau Seen Hui, Ministry education of
United States welcome everyone who attended this forum discussion.
According to the Malaysia Department of Education, the primary
grades are the most critical time for students to learn English
language arts and the goal of schools should be that by the time
students leave grade three. Leading a primary classroom is a
challenge because you have to teach all subjects and manage a
classroom of different levels and personalities. So now let us first
welcome Lim Rou Yunn, Professor of Cambridge University to give
her opinion on this discussion.
Professor Lim : In my opinion, as a teacher we should assess each student in our
class near the beginning of the year based on the already expected
outcomes for their age ; maintain regular records for each student.
For example, if you are teaching kindergarten, assess how much of
the alphabet the student knows and whether she knows concepts
related to book structure, such as reading from left to right or knowing
the front of the back of the book. If you are teaching a second grade
class assess the phonemic awareness and vocabulary recognition of
each student.
Moderator: Thank you Professor Lim for her opinion. Okay, now lets invite
Professor Chan from Harvard University to give her opinion on how to
teach English in primary classes.
Professor Chan: I personally think that we should divide the class into groups in which
members of the same group have the same reading ability. Assign
each group an appropriate book. Rotate from group to group so
students can read the book with you and discuss the plot and new
vocabulary words. As you are working with another group, other
groups can work on a follow-up activity or read the book to
themselves in quiet voices. According to Dr Elaine, associate
professor in Literacy and Early Education at Malaysia University, this
is more effective than roundrobin reading, where students of a
whole class consecutively take turns reading.
Moderator : Yeah, I do agree with you. Group reading is more effective compare to
round-robin reading because students among themselves can
discuss the plot with each other. Next, beside me is Professor Lau.
She is from Oxford University. Can you share your experience with us?
Professor Lau : Around 1988, I was teaching in St. Paul primary school, London.
Through my 26 years experience, teacher can teach students new
vocabulary through experiential activities. For example, when reading
a story aloud to the class, point to a word and ask students to think of
a synonym that could replace that word. Brainstorm on the board
according to a theme, such as mammals or fruits, and ask students to
think of words relevant to the topic and throw in some new words that
they can learn.
Moderator : Thank you Professor Lau for sharing her experience. Moreover, I think
that having each student create a collage of items that are all the
same colour or begin with the same letter can help students to
remember the object names they do not know. Professor Lim, do you
have any suggestion to teach primary student?
Professor Lim: I suggest teacher can practice spelling with students through
organizing dictation activities. With the youngest grades, call out
letters for them to write down. For the older primary grades, start by
testing them with spelling words and work up to simple sentences.
Dictation tests with sentences will help students understand words
within their context and punctuation rules. How about you, Professor
Professor Chan: For me, teacher can organize creative writing sessions in classroom
even with a kindergarten class. Writing session can help students
learn how to organize and express their thoughts. It can also teach
students with new ideas and information. Younger students can draw
pictures and ask for help with labeling their images. Older students
should be allowed to write without worrying about perfect grammar or
Moderator : Professor Lau, how about your opinion?
Professor Lau : In my view, teacher can organize interactive stations representing all
current curriculum areas when they are teaching, such as listening,
writing, speaking, reading and grammar. Recruit a volunteer parent to
lead each station and divide students into small groups and let them
take turns participating at each station.
Moderator : Thank you Professor Lim, Professor Chan and Professor Lau for their
view. Let me conclude what they have said just now. Teaching
English does not have to be limited to the language arts block; it can
take place through all subjects, during recess or lunch and any other
time of day.

Do you think that English Class is importance?
Yes, I do. Whether you are taking an English class in middle school, high school college
or graduate school, you may wonder why English matters, particularly if you plan to
study or work in a field in which you think English is irrelevant. Possibly the most
important reason to take an English class is its relevance to virtually all fields and
careers. Wherever speaking, writing or critical thinking is required, English class is useful.
Besides, learning English will open up numerous opportunities and avenues to students.
Thus, I believe that English class is very importance.