Show­ing sup­port goes a long way

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed -

FOR 22-year-old Glo­ria Ngu, who at­tends Tay­lor’s Uni­ver­sity School of Ed­u­ca­tion, mak­ing stu­dents re­alise the im­por­tance of learn­ing, its rel­e­vance and how it can be ap­plied in their lives are more im­por­tant than the tools used to deliver a les­son.

With considerations such as the du­ra­tion of a class, num­ber of stu­dents and prac­ti­cal­ity of try­ing to get enough ac­cess to com­put­ers or the In­ter­net, the use of tech­nol­ogy may not be a pri­or­ity, said the third-year Bach­e­lor of Ed­u­ca­tion (Hons) Pri­mary Ed­u­ca­tion student.

Her re­cent six-month ex­pe­ri­ence as an as­sis­tant English Lan­guage teacher at a Ja­panese high school taught Ngu that learn­ing 21st cen­tury skills such as crit­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing, cre­ativ­ity, com­mu­ni­ca­tion as well as col­lab­o­ra­tion and team­work need not re­quire tech­nol­ogy as a medium in class.

“I taught Se­nior One (equiv­a­lent to Form Four) stu­dents at Seiko Gakuin, an all-male pri­vate school in Yoko­hama. The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Ja­pan is very exam-cen­tric and English is not em­pha­sised. I learnt a smat­ter­ing of Ja­panese and tra­di­tional Ja­panese and pop cul­ture to break the ice in class. I also trans­lated cer­tain things into Ja­panese. The 47 stu­dents re­sponded to these meth­ods,” said Ngu.

As the stu­dents al­ready had lessons in read­ing and con­ver­sa­tion, Ngu fo­cused on gram­mar and ar­gu­men­ta­tive writ­ing.

“Writ­ing is very dif­fi­cult if one is learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage. So for one of my first writ­ing lessons, I asked the stu­dents to write 200 words on whether play­ing Poke­mon Go is a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.”

She di­vided the class into groups to dis­cuss the topic, al­low­ing Ja­panese lan­guage to be used. The group dis­cus­sions con­tin­ued af­ter school hours via Google Docs and Google Trans­late.

“Is Home­work Nec­es­sary?” was an­other writ­ing topic.

“They had to write a let­ter to ei­ther agree or dis­agree and per­suade me in their ar­gu­ment. A student ended a let­ter with: ‘Please don’t give me so much home­work.’ It was quite funny.”

The stu­dents prac­tised their English dur­ing two school trips and Ngu con­ducted classes for those who wanted coach­ing af­ter school.

“From a 200-word com­po­si­tion, my class was able to go up to 500 words. It is very im­por­tant for teach­ers to show their car­ing side and show sup­port to stu­dents for them to be­come more con­fi­dent. It is also im­por­tant in shaping fu­ture lead­ers es­pe­cially when stu­dents have limited ex­po­sure to the lan­guage or come from an un­der­priv­i­leged back­ground.”

Ngu, a for­mer SMK Seafield, Se­lan­gor student, said the ex­pe­ri­ence has made her even more pas­sion­ate about teach­ing and she is ea­ger to be­gin her ca­reer.

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