As I bid farewell to my batch P6 of 2016 next week and classes move up one grade, my main focus will lie in my P5s moving on to P6 and my P4s moving on to P5.
While the PSLE year is the more important of the two, the leap in English Language from P4 to P5 can be quite daunting. There are new rules (Synthesis & Transformation), honing in the ability to hunt for clues in a passage (Comprehension Cloze), learning the skills of sequencing, comparing, and inferring. (Comprehension Open-ended).
There will be rules to be learnt, new components to be introduced, and a new style of clear and concise letter writing to be practised consistently (Situational Writing).
Then, there is the CA1 in February. Some schools do not have them, some schools have a CA1 consisting of a few components and some have the full Paper 2. This can be quite shocking for some students if not enough practice is given for the new components.
As such, I begin the switch to P5 level in October. The P4s have yet to complete their SA2s so the shift will be gradual.
I will begin with Grammar rules using the Conquer Grammar P5 book. This is also an excellent time to review the rules just before the SA2. It is important that students are aware of the areas they are unsure of. Subject verb agreement? Tenses? Conditionals? ‘Drilling them in grammatical exercises is a good way for them to identify the areas they need work on (even if teachers and parents are already aware of their weak areas) and they will be able to identify those areas as they work on the grammar components in their Paper 2.
The Grammar Cloze component which will now be 10 marks will be introduced alongside this. There is something about a cloze passage that seems to overwhelm students in the early stages of P5. Even if they are strong in grammar, students tend to make mistakes when they need to find the correct answers when it is in a passage form instead of sentences. They are unable to identify the clues and struggle to choose the correct answer as many seem to be similar.
Synthesis and Transformation
We will also start on Synthesis and Transformation because the rules seem endless and it’s one of those ‘practice makes perfect’ components. My current favourite book is the PSLE Synthesis and Transformation. It is advisable to get a book that has the rules laid out clearly for them before the exercises. This allows them to refer back to the rules when they are unsure.
They will also need to realise that they have to be meticulous in this component. One small mistake and they will get zero marks. So, I don’t give them half marks for even small punctuation mistakes.
I have started on this component with my P4s by giving them the commonly misspelled words list last month (below). I have been testing them weekly and when done, I’ll proceed to give them their new list to learn. In this case, as the 2016 Top School Papers are usually out only in December, we will begin work on the list from the 2015 CA1 papers.
As the vocabulary in these papers get more challenging, it’s good to get them to retain the meaning of words early. I will give them the Vocabulary list and get them to memorise the meanings. I test them by asking them to write sentences using these words so that I am able to check that they have really understood the meanings given. I usually get them to learn the Vocabulary of the Top School Paper we will be working on to also see how well they fare in the Vocabulary sections after they have the necessary tools to help themselves.
We will start work on Comprehension Cloze and Open-ended after my students have completed their SA2 papers.
I will post more on how we go about working on those in November.