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English as it is spoken, by LSP pupils

12 Sep 2008

LSP Fest 2008

The Northland Primary School chorus enjoys performing their favourite scene from "Billy McBrown".

In some fairy tales, dreams do come true. At the LSP (Learning Support Programme) Fest on 22 August, the student playing Goldilocks stood up with bold assurance to address her schoolmate playing Little Bear - who would’ve thought that this budding young actress had not been able to read at all when she started primary school a year ago? Likewise, no one would have guessed that the Bee who engaged the Ant in a chirpy chat was played by a once shy and withdrawn little girl who rarely uttered a word.

As they brought their favourite stories to life with colourful costumes, lively acting and a palpable sense of enthusiasm, these Pri 2 pupils exuded confidence and verbal fluency in English. Their achievement on stage during the LSP Fest is a tribute to the success of the LSP, which provides specialised support for Pri 1 pupils with weak English speaking and literacy skills.

Enjoying the limelight

For Northland Primary School student Roslan Nur Deanna bte Roslan, the LSP has unleashed not only a personal ease with English but also a flair for drama. “I like reading and acting,” she says of her experience playing the role of Goldilocks. “I enjoy dressing up, having long hair [she was wearing a wig over her short hair during her performance] and going on stage to perform in front of other people.”

LSP Fest 2008

Woodlands Ring Road Primary School’s Idraki B Hussain (centre) confidently recites his lines for "Never, Never Go with a Stranger".

Sharing the stage as well as Deanna’s sentiments, Iraki B Hussain of Woodlands Ring Road Primary School admitted to being “excited” and “a little frightened” before the performance. But once the curtains were raised, all his signs of stage-fright vanished.

These two students were among those from Anderson Primary School, Innova Primary School, Marsiling Primary School, Northland Primary School and Woodlands Ring Primary School who performed before a crowd of 200 people comprising principals, teachers, parents and schoolmates. Besides dramatic skits and recitals, the pupils also pitted their skills against each other in reading comprehension, reading aloud and spelling competitions, with the draw of attractive prizes and the excitement of the moment keeping both the audience and participants glued to the match.

Parents see (and make) the difference

LSP Fest 2008

Back row: Proud parents Mr & Mrs Mohd Fahmi (Nur Syahiroh’s parents), Mdm Asmawati Saidi. Front row: Idraki B Hussain, Nur Syahiroh bte Mohd Fahmi, Roslan Nur Deanna bte Roslan.

For both the pupils and their parents, the LSP has been a life-changing experience. “My daughter was very shy before, and now she doesn’t stop talking,” states Mr Mohd Fahmi proudly of his daughter Nur Syahiroh bte Mohd Fahmi, from Marsiling Primary School. “She also sings and dances, and even cracks jokes!”

Nur Syahiroh played the Bee in the fable of the Grasshopper and the Ant. “At home, she asks us a lot of questions and is very enthusiastic about her schoolwork,” adds Mr Fahmi, who credits the LSP for Syahiroh’s positive attitude. “We encourage her to communicate in English and show our support by sitting with her when she studies or does her homework.”

LSP Fest 2008

Mdm Asmawati Saidi reinforces literacy skills by reading with daughter Roslan Nur Deanna bte Roslan.

According to Deanna’s mother Mdm Asmawati Saidi, the LSP has not only helped her daughter in language skills, “More importantly, it has given her emotional confidence and self-motivation.” Deanna was initially somewhat demoralised as she could not understand what her teachers were saying. But thanks to her LSP classes, Deanna passed all her exams last year.

It goes without saying that LSP would not have succeeded without the active support of parents. “Even if the parents don’t speak the language well, they can enhance learning,” explained Mdm Thoo Mei Lan, a Senior Reading Specialist at MOE. “They can listen to their child read, and encourage them by giving time and providing emotional support.”

As the children make progress in their English speaking and reading skills, the LSP is evolving to better address the needs of the students. This year, an enhanced LSP programme was introduced to equip pupils with not just basic English literacy but the relevant language skills to learn at their optimum in all subjects. Mdm Thoo sees no reason why the bar should not be raised and dangles the prospect of bigger and better LSP Fests in the future: “Today’s Fest is at the zonal level. We can follow this up with a spelling bee at the national level, maybe next year, or in 2010.”