Category Archives for English Enrichment Resource

Crispy rendang chicken, anyone?

Crispy rendang chicken, anyone?


At Creative Campus, our curriculum is tailored to include a healthy dose of current affairs. Besides tackling real-life issues, we ensure that our students know how to source for relevant clues in a given question, so that they can arrive at the correct answer every time. Here’s a short passage to test your skills in Comprehension Cloze.
Scroll down for the answers at the bottom of this page.

Gregg Wallace cooked up an international (1) ________ when he eliminated a Malaysian contestant based on the chicken rendang she presented on a television contest. The iconic delicacy is usually slow cooked in a coconut-based curry gravy. It is meant to be tender and moist.

“The chicken skin is not (2) ________. It can’t be eaten,” he declared on MasterChef UK.

Wallace’s controversial remarks on the reality television show sparked an online (3) ________. Even the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vicki Treadell, warned that he should not confuse the traditional dish with fried chicken, which is often served with nasi lemak (coconut rice). Wallace has since added fuel to the (4) ________ on his Twitter account. Many are up in (5) ________ over his Twitter feed that signed off with “Namaste”, a greeting native in India, while suggesting that the dish was from Indonesia.

(6) ­________ the saga, Wallace has been busy backpedalling, “I didn’t mean it should be fried, like fried chicken. What I (7) ________ was it wasn’t cooked. It was white and flabby.”

Read more details on the #chickenrendang saga here.

Answers to Comprehension Cloze

Did you get all the answers to the cloze passage above?
1. storm
2. crispy
3. furore
4. fire
5. arms
6. Since
7. meant

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

How to use ‘Who’ and ‘Whom’

How to Use 'Who' and 'Whom'

Many are often confused by the correct usage of the words "who", "whom" and "whose"; particularly "whom".

Interestingly, the word "whom" is not commonly used in modern spoken English, but rather in the formal written form. Generally, it is safer to use "Who" if one is unsure, since the use of "whom" can be limiting.

The difference between these two relative pronouns is that "who" is used in the subject position of a sentence or phrase, whereas "whom" can only be used in the object position, or after a preposition. 

Sounds technical? Click here for a clearer picture.

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

The Benefits of Journal Writing

The Benefits of Journal Writing

Journal entries are pivotal for improving writing and honing a student's personal voice. A skilled storyteller can reflect on his records and use them as fodder for his essay writings. Here are some benefits of writing a diary or a journal, especially for students.

1. Confidence Building

Unlike assigned writing, journal writing does not have the pressure of an audience. It can be totally uninhibited, confessional and honest. Journal writing lets fledgling writers practice without fear. Research shows that it takes at least 28 repetitions of a concept or skills before it is solidified in the brain. It helps if the writer learns a specific writing technique and then consciously apply the skills while writing the journal. Over time, through adequate self-review, the writer can nail down the techniques and apply them in his work accurately.

2. Better Self Understanding

Like any form of artistic expression, journal writing is a process of self-discovery. Important issues or ideas that lay dormant in the subconscious may resurface during free writing, whereby one writes without regard to spelling, grammar, or topic. Writing is therapeutic, and hence, cathartic. Hidden strengths are revealed in the prose, helping one to build character and grow.

3. Entertainment

Journal writing can include drawings, sketches, doodles and polaroids to make the process interesting. The writings can also tie-in with the writer's hobbies and sometimes, help the writer to make a living.

For example, many food connoisseurs write food blogs (a form of public journal writing) to chronicle their experiences. In 2002, Julie Powell channeled her love of cooking into setting up a blog where she documented her daily thoughts while cooking each of the 542 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. As a result, Powell became a published author and a Hollywood film based on her blog, Julie and Julia, was made. Even Doctor Leslie Tay, famed for his "ieatishootipost" blog, is renowned for his insight on the Singaporean cuisine.


With the plethora of benefits of journal writing, try it out as part of your new year resolution. Who knows, you might just end up loving it.  

Start preparing for the PSLE now

Have you subscribed to our FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp? Students from Primary 3 and up can benefit from this course.

In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

“The habit of writing for my eye is good practice. It loosens the ligaments.”  ~ Virginia Woolf

The Importance of Reading

The Importance of Reading

As the exam period comes to an end this month, students will finally be able to find time to do the things they like. Hopefully, they find time to indulge in one of the most timeless hobbies- Reading. 

Other than being the most effective ways to improve one's proficiency in any language, reading also reaps a myriad of other benefits.

1. Be Well-Informed

The accrual of knowledge is most commonly accomplished by the act of reading. No one is born with information readily available in his head. Even the most intelligent person needs to fill his mind with meaningful data before he can analyse and express an opinion on a subject. Being the most information dense of all media, it is no wonder print continue to be the most common tool for learning.

2. Improve concentration and mental capabilities

The cognitive process of reading forces the mind to focus and think. Reading is quite simply a process of drawing meaning from a line of symbols (the alphabet). It is impossible not to think while reading. The same way how games and puzzles sharpen the mind, reading helps increase brain power and improves memory. 

3. Boost Self-Esteem

People who are illiterate suffer from low self esteem. They miss out on the joys of being able to text on the phone, understand an award winning foreign movie, singing karaoke, buying the correct toiletries... the list goes on. Most importantly, being able to read well is a prerequisite to getting a better education. When one gets a good education, it is more likely that he will do better in life, and ultimately feel better about himself.


Start preparing for the PSLE this holidays

We are pleased to announce that we have a FREE 2-week PSLE English Boot Camp! In the Boot Camp, students will benefit from Videos and Practice Papers on alternating days. The Videos teach vital grammar rules and commonly mistaken word pairs, while the Practice Papers pertain to the key PSLE English Paper 2 components.

Sign up today to receive our FREE 2-week Boot Camp in your inbox daily.

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader."- Margaret Fuller

Please click the links below for book recommendations:

Recommended 2017 book list for children

Booker Prize Winners (1968 to present)

Guardian 2017 Booklist for Children

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

General Paper 2017: A Post Mortem

Each year, when the General Paper exams loom, my emotions are a tumult of excitement and anxiety: excitement because I absolutely love the challenge posed in the GP exams. As an educator, GP delights me no end as the questions indeed require students to think and evaluate critically, and write cogently on a myriad of current-day issues. So, to be able to navigate the GP papers well is a relevant skill today.

The anxiety arises because I know how hard my students and I have worked over the course of 2 years in preparation for the exams, and, of course I want them to do well--hence the inevitable nerves.

My cohort of students come from different JCs, with varying grasps of GP. I'm not looking for As across the board, but I am expecting improvements in scores as a reflection of their effort put into the subject.

Still, GP2017 is now done and dusted. I've checked in with my students and now weigh in on General Paper 2017...

Paper 1 was a fair paper, offering a good mix of topics for candidates to choose from. 

The ever popular science and technology-related questions took a back seat this year, though Q2--on the use of animals for scientific research--is fairly accessible to most. Those who focused on media-related issues had 2 rather manageable questions to choose from.

The key to acing the GP essay is in the evaluation and analysis, so those who merely listed factors and/or went about essay topics in a 'pros and cons' manner would have presented limited arguments. These scripts would not score well in their content.

In preparing our students for Paper 1, we are delighted to have addressed the following questions particularly well 🙂

Q3: In your society, to what extent is it acceptable for public money to be used for the acquisition of works of art?

--The key to acing this question is to address "acceptable" and "acquisition of art works", rather than simply evaluating whether public funding should be applied to the arts.


Q5:Is regulation of the press desirable?

--The reasons for "desirability" should be addressed, including 'who', and in what way, regulation of the press benefits.


Q8: Examine the role of music in establishing a national identity in your society.

--Candidates should examine what the SG national identity is. They would need to address the extent to which music impacts the establishment of that national identity. Students should not focus excessively on the other factors that influence the development of our national identity.


Q10: 'Practical ability is just as important as intellectual skills.' How far is this true in your society?

--At the onset, candidates need to address what 'practical ability' and 'intellectual skills' are. Then, they need to weigh in on how and why in the context of SG, these two aspects are of of equal importance, or one outweighs the other.


Paper 2 comprised 2 passages on sharing and collecting personal data online. 

Most students found the paper manageable though the Application Question (AQ) took an unexpected turn in its phrasing, requiring students to address how far (they) agree with the arguments presented by both authors, in the context of (their) society. This is a slight deviation from the typical AQ asking which author the candidate agreed with in the context of their society.

Some students found it difficult to justify their responses with concrete evidence.  

One possible approach to the AQ is as follows:

First: Candidates can address a similar argument presented in both passage.

...that (users') information is constantly being collected about their location, demographics, behaviour and habits [Psg 1 para 4] and anyone with an online presence is continuously... broadcasting their personal data [Psg 1 para 4].


This is true in SG because:

  • 70% of Singaporeans are active social media users on-the-go, more than double the global average
  • internet penetration rate in SG is among the highest in the world at 82%
  • we have access to most global e-commerce sites like Amazon, Taobao and social media sites: FB Snapchat, Instagram
  • algorithms and bots are always picking up users' information, evident in how online ads are displayed according to the respective user's preferences and searches. Google search results on a particular keyword also differ from user to user, depending on their search history.
  • a user's location is also immediately detectable so various recommendations can be pushed out by websites. E.g. UBER and Grab services, location app on FB etc

These factors culminate in a constant collection of personal data by various online sites, which are then used to market to the user.

Second: Candidates can then take the above argument further by referencing Psg 1 [para 1] "If you are not paying for the product, you are the product"...since for most companies, "their services are monetised either by marketing portions of web space to advertisers or through peddling [users' data to organisations]" [Psg 1 para 2].​​​​

  • Student can cite how all online sites and articles feature ads [eerily curated to suit their preferences and interest]
  • Author's point is of limited application in SG due to government regulation e.g. Personal Data Protection Act [briefly state what PDPA does e.g. governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal data to maintain individuals’ trust in organisations that manage data].

Finally: Candidates can address an argument in Psg 2 and present a qualified agreement. For instance, Psg 2 para 5: the author argues that in natural disasters or emergency situations, 'swarm intelligence' or information is useful as more information collected means a more powerful swarm response to the disaster.

  • Agree--in the recent terrorist bombings in major cities and the Hong Kong typhoon, many were able to use the Safety Check app on FB. Similar applications and programs can therefore collate data more comprehensively and enable more thorough response to disasters.
  • However, author's argument is limited in veracity because the infrequency of disaster and low probability of becoming a victim of disaster simply cannot justify the sheer amount of personal data being collected on a daily basis, and used against the individual for marketing and profiteering purposes; or worse, as a tool for crime or other nefarious activity against the person. E.g As it is, SG ranked 6th in a 2016 study on global card frauds. The study looked at risky behaviours like leaving a smartphone unlocked when not in use, shopping or banking online without security software, and responding to e-mail or calls asking for banking information. The instance of identity theft and fraud can only escalate if information is readily and easily "swarmed" online.
  • The adage "nothing is ever deleted from the internet" remains true and personal data protection should be prioritised.

Note that: By limiting or qualifying agreement of relevance of the authors' arguments, a candidate fulfils the 'extent' or 'how far do you agree' aspect of the question.

Our J1 students are already preparing hard for General Paper 2018. We take a break from lessons until January 2018. I look forward to more intellectual sparring and argumentation with my students in the new year!

~Contributed by Geraldine Chew [Ms] 6 November 2017

Parts of Speech

Parts of Speech

A noun is a part of speech that refers to a person, place or an object. A verb is a part of speech that indicates action. Usually, students do not get confused between the two, but there are some notable exceptions.

Take a look at the pairs of words below:

The Problem

It is easy to be confused between the pairs, but generally, the noun forms end in –ice and the verb forms end is –ise. “Relief” and “Belief” are nouns, while their –eve counterparts are verbs.

The Solution

  • I advised (verb) him to speak to the teacher, but he did not take my advice (noun).
  • He said he went to practise (verb), but no one saw him at the practice (noun).
  • This ointment is supposed to provide relief (noun), but it did not relieve (verb) my pain.
  • It is my firm belief (noun) that people who believe (verb) in unicorns are silly.

The Benefits of Group Classes

The Benefits Of Group Classes

Why Group Classes Accelerate Your Child's Growth

As an English teacher, I am often asked by parents if group tuition, as opposed to 1-on-1 sessions, is suitable for their child.

My take is that 1-on-1 tuition is best for a child who is very weak in his English foundation. In such cases, the child will need to up his basic language proficiency before taking on anything too complex, especially if enrichment lessons require him to express more sophisticated opinions or spar with his peers.

The personal tutor needs to address the child’s more pressing needs by working on the basics, much of which involves repetition, rote-learning and rule-based practice. In this way, the tutor can help shore up the child’s English proficiency without the added burden of the child having to cope with more challenging activities or a flurry of opinions from his peers.

Often, a child compares his ability with that of his peers. If he perceives himself to fall short, his confidence can take a hit. Much of learning English is about confidence—in daring to express, question, analyse… So, it is imperative that the child remains positive in his English learning journey.

How We Create A Nurturing Environment To Optimise Your Child's Learning

However, for a child of average English competency, group classes are highly beneficial. Here’s why:

1. Children learn as much from their social interaction with their peers as from their teacher’s instruction.

*  For instance, if a child sees that his classmates are attempting or capable of navigating a task, he too can be more willing or motivated to try.

*  Sometimes a bit of friendly competition also helps spur a child on to take up new challenges.
 
*  Our teachers are very experienced in creating a cooperative and interactive learning environment where healthy cross-learning is encouraged. The teacher knows how to navigate discussion such that there are clear learning points to take away from each lesson.

*  In such an environment, students cultivate empathy and respect too. They learn to take turns, keep an open mind that is receptive to alternative opinions, and learn the skill of questioning or opposing respectfully.

*  These are all important communication skills that should be cultivated in our children.

Group Engagement Stimulates Creativity

2. The benefits of group engagement are most obvious in oral practice and essy writing, especially when brainstorming for points of argument and plotlines.

*  In a 1-on-1 lesson, a child learns only from his ideas and the teacher's inputs; this can be very tiring for the child since all focus is on his lone efforts.

*  If mishandled, such an approach can lead to tedium, followed by stress and/or boredom.

*  However, if he's in a group, the number of ideas generated is multiplied, and an experienced teacher can explain to the class why an idea is excellent while another might be less appropriate, especially for school exams, for instance. In this way, each child learns more in the 2 hours, and more importantly, is more engaged due to the accelerated pace of the lesson and the energy that a lively discussion injects into the lesson.

*  The same is true for generating content for oral practice.

By Geraldine Chew

In the Business of Giving: Comprehension

In the Business of Giving

Giveaway: At the end of the sample questions and model answers, you can opt-in to download the entire worksheet that our upper primary students worked on this week.

*  We love introducing inspirational personalities to our students. Blake Mycoskie fits the bill to a T–social enterprise meets fashionable footwear!

*  Toms Shoes gives away a pair of shoes to a child in a developing country when someone in the developed world buys a pair.

*  What’s more, another campaign of Toms’ helps to restore sight.

*  As the year-end festive season arrives, we too hope that our students are inspired by this lesson and reach out to assist those in need–in ways big and small!

Here is a sample preview of what our students will be doing this week.

​Toms Shoes: A Social Enterprise

Read the following paragraph carefully and answer the question that follows.

1. Serial social entrepreneur, Blake Mycoskie simply cannot sit still. In fact, it was because of Mycoskie’s travels that the idea for his innovative company, Toms Shoes, came about. While on vacation in Argentina, Mycoskie spent some time in several villages, where he discovered that children could not attend school not because they did not want to, but because they did not own shoes. The schools required that each child be clothed and have proper footwear before they were allowed into class.

2. Inspired to help, Mycoskie created a company–originally dubbed “Shoes for Tomorrow”–in which helping those kids, and others like them, is a central part of the business plan. For every pair of shoes Toms sells, a new pair is donated to a child in a developing country.

3. The shoes not only enable the kids to go to school, but they also prevent life-threatening diseases too. By providing footwear, Toms is helping to prevent hookworm in Guatemala. In Ethiopia, they are preventing podoconiosis, a disease that can cause the feet and legs to swell to dangerous proportions. Kids get it from walking barefoot on volcanic soil. Additionally, Toms is getting more involved in cooperating with the best doctors and clinics there, so further prevention of diseases can occur.

Sample Comprehension Questions

Answer the following questions in your own words.

1. Mycoskie realised that “children could not attend school not because they did not want to, but because they did not own shoes”. (Paragraph 1) What does this realisation suggest about the family background of the children? 1m

2. “The schools required that each child be clothed and have proper footwear before they were allowed into class.” (Paragraph 1) Explain fully why this rule is discriminatory. 2m

3. Explain the importance of shoes to children in developing countries. 2m

Model Answers

At Creative Campus, we teach students how to source for the correct answers, respond directly to the question, as well as edit their answers for grammatical and contextual accuracies.

Take a look at the model answers below.

Did you manage to get the content right?

1. They are poor/ impoverished/ do not have the means to buy shoes.

2. While schools expect their students to be suitably attired/dressed/ be representative of the school, they do not allow children who are poor to attend classes in the school.

3. Shoes are a prerequisite for educational opportunities. Shoes are also a protective measure against illness.

Enter your Email Address for a FREE Sneak Peak into our FULL Comprehension Worksheet

Broadening Your Child’s Horizons During The Holidays

Broadening Your Child's Horizons During The Holidays

The spirit of enrichment and wider learning during the holidays complements the regular work we do with our children, which has a consistent focus on the newsworthy and the wider world around us. Besides our holiday workshops, it might be a good idea to consider activities which will nonetheless broaden their horizons amidst a respite from school.

Theatre/Acting

Theatre and Acting encourages the use of body movement and different modalities such as speech and sound, which can be beneficial to overall expression and facilitate a love for the arts and the English language. Local theatre production company such as ACT3 Drama Academy and Wild R!ce runs a holistic theatre programme which covers various elements of theatre, comprising vocal, dance as well as movement aspects. Many workshops run during the June break.

Museums

There is no shortage of museums locally for an exhibit-filled day out, and a good one to consider may be the ArtScience Museum’s  permanent exhibition. This exhibition feature digital art installations that offer an interactive experience with technology. Named Future World: Where Art Meets Science, this exhibition was created in conjunction with a Tokyo-based art collective comprising computer scientists, animators, engineers and technologists. This may be a good one to bring a child who enjoys learning about technology or to spark an interest in the myriad ways that technology interacts with various disciplines such as mathematics and design.

Urban Farming

There has been a rise in urban farming locally, with many establishments growing and selling locally farmed produce. If your kid shows signs of a green thumb or loves the outdoors, visiting some local farms may be a good alternative to spending the day in a shopping mall. Local farm Bollywood Veggies is no stranger to the local urban farming scene. The farmers’ market, called Bolly Jolly, occurs on the last weekend of every month, which will be a good idea for a family-day affair outdoors. Bollywood Veggies also holds cooking classes for children in their in-house kitchen called Bollywood Bhancha.

The Importance of Public Speaking

The Importance of Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of the most important, and yet, also one of the most dreaded forms of communication for our students. It is a common sight for students to evade teachers’ questions, or be hesitant about making enquiries that might facilitate their learning. With consistent practice, however, public speaking can cease to be an activity that is daunting.

Why should we hone our public speaking skills? The benefits to having good communication skills are innumerable; we are able to forge meaningful connections with other people, influence decisions and motivate social change.

Below are five key benefits of effective communication:


1) Conveys knowledge. Public speaking ability bears much relevance to our transition to the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”. With the emergence of trans-disciplinary fields, the knowledge economy has become ever more dependent on information sharing and collaboration. We need to convey and share knowledge with others, and the ability to clearly articulate our thoughts means the ability to demonstrate and share our knowledge.

2) Develops and shows confidence. Think Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ellen DeGeneres, or Bill Clinton. People tend to gravitate toward confidence, and one aspect of the appeal of these charismatic speakers stems from their unshakeable confidence. We will perhaps do well to remember that confidence is not an inherent trait, but a product of seasoned practice. Practising public speaking helps us to command others’ attention at school and at the workplace. More importantly, it helps us cultivate a more confident and enduring persona that will have a ripple effect on our lives.

3) Motivate others. David Foster Wallace, in a commencement speech at Kenyon College titled “This is Water”, opens his speech with a short story where two fish are so indifferent to their environment that they ask what water is. His speech was an impassioned reminder of the importance of maintaining perspective as we go through life. Good public speakers build rapport with their audiences and inspire us to action, showing how public speaking can be an important motivational tool. Having good public speaking skills means we are able to motivate others, which allows us to rally them to our message and goals.

4) Increases enquiry and knowledge. One lesser known technique to facilitate learning may be to adopt a shift of our own perspective from student to teacher. Have you found that preparing for a presentation requires you to be more familiar with the subject matter itself? We are forced to ask questions about the subject matter in order to field questions should they arise. The process of preparing for public speaking thus facilitates our own learning. It encourages a deeper understanding of key concepts so that we can communicate them effectively.

5) Differentiates you from your peers. We have all had encounters with people who stand out from the crowd. If we recall these instances, it is likely that those who made a strong impression were effective communicators. Good public speaking skills enable us to communicate or deliver material effectively, which is key to making a good first impression. The ability to make an impression prevents us from being cookie-cutter, giving us an edge over other people.

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