Category Archives for English Essentials

The Worst House Guests

Houseflies. They are everywhere and anywhere.

Believed to be native to Asia, houseflies now inhabit nearly every corner of the globe. Except for Antarctica and a few islands, houseflies live everywhere people do. Houseflies are synanthropic organisms: they benefit ecologically from their association with humans and domesticated animals. Conversely, houseflies are rarely found in the wilderness or in places where humans are absent. Should humankind cease to exist, houseflies might share our fate.

They procreate anywhere too, as and when they wish, laying their eggs even in feces. Their rate of reproduction is so fast that, if not for environmental conditions and predation, houseflies would perhaps rule the world.

Houseflies breed in the things we revile - garbage, animal dung, sewage, human excrement, and other nasty substances. While living among these filth, they feed on them too. With sponge-like mouth-parts, houseflies soak up liquefied substances. When a housefly locates something tasty but solid, it regurgitates onto the food. Its vomit contains digestive enzymes that quickly predigest and liquefy the food for the fly suck it all up.

Other than its gross vomits, houseflies poop a lot too. Nearly every time a housefly lands, it defecates. So, the housefly almost always does poop where it eats. Keep that in mind next time when one touches down on your favourite meal...


Something to ponder

1. How do houseflies decide something is appetising? 

2. How do houseflies transmit diseases?


Here's how

They step on it! Like butterflies, houseflies have their taste buds on their toes, so to speak. Taste receptors, called chemosensilla, are located at the far ends of the fly's tibia and tarsa (in simpler terms, the lower leg and foot). The moment they land on something of interest – your garbage, a pile of horse manure, or perhaps your lunch – they start sampling its flavour by walking around.

Houseflies thrive in places that are teeming with pathogens, hence they have a bad habit of carrying disease-causing agents with them from place to place. A housefly will land on a pile of dog poop, inspect it thoroughly with its feet, and then fly over to your picnic table and walk around on your hamburger bun for a bit. Their food and breeding sites are already overflowing with bacteria, and then they vomit and defecate on them to add to the mess. Houseflies are known to transmit at least 65 diseases and infections, including cholera, dysentery, giardiasis, typhoid, leprosy, conjunctivitis, salmonella, and many more.

Spotlight on MOE’s ‘No-Streaming’ by 2024

Major reforms to Singapore's education system were announced in parliament recently, most notably the abolishment of streaming by 2024, towards a system of Subject-based Banding (SBB). What will this mean for parents and students?

From the commentary that we have sampled, a most significant drawback of streaming is how it unwittingly punishes academically weaker students through labelling and stigmatisation. The new system of SBB will blunt this negative effect but not eradicate it, because while streaming is now less overt, it is but masked under the subject classifications G1-3.

We expect it will be quite challenging for schools to deliver on this new policy: there are time-table issues, and teachers having to juggle multiple levels within the same class, to say the least. Administrative and logistical issues can disrupt lesson delivery and the learning process in the classroom, because every system operates within limits that are made even more acute by the burdens it must bear. 

There is an upside to this, though: mixing up of students of different bands, if managed properly, can be very conducive for learning. In perforating that cultural and social divide between 'weaker' and 'stronger' students, weaker students are motivated to do better when they see that the stronger students are human just like them; stronger students are pushed to excel lest they rest on their laurels. For both groups, their horizons are broadened. Anxious parents might feel more assured if their children have a one-track mind and focus on academic excellence -- but life is a long race, and its challenges, multi-faceted. In a well-managed multi-band classroom, students could pick up a more holistic spread of personal and social skills that will serve them well in life.

Moreover, unlike streaming which is very much fixed, SBB seems to offer flexibility – chances for mobility within the subject bands means that a student's education pathway is now less determined by the system than his or her own choices and commitment. For late bloomers, and those who desire to do better, they will have more chances to make good.

That said, the core of education and learning has not changed. In whatever way the education system is tweaked, the fundamental truth remains that learning happens and is determined at the level of the individual. For instance, the system may label a student – this is an operational matter. It is up to the student to not let the label define him and get in the way of what he must do: to be educated. 

At Creative Campus, we focus on building the individual. The education system is not tailored to the individual, teachers at school may be over-burdened, and even good schools can be 'bad' as the case may be; but the student with the motivation and skills to learn, can prevail over these factors, and do all right. We teach English only – language is the conduit of thought, and through our programme, children learn to be curious, to imagine, analyse and express themselves with clarity and perspective. Regardless of the stream or band, this core ability makes the effective difference in one's education. 

PSLE English Paper 1 2018: A Short Analysis

The following is the essay questions from the 2018 PSLE English Paper 1, according to feedback from several of our students and other sources. 

Write a composition of at least 150 words about teamwork. The pictures are provided to help you think about the topic. Your composition should be based on one or more of these pictures. Consider the following points when you plan your composition.

  • What was the teamwork?
  • Why was teamwork required?
  • What happened in the end?

You may use the points in any order and include other relevant points as well. [* The three pictures given include a trophy; a group of students cooking; and several students gathering around, looking at a laptop.]

The topic was expected and the pictures were equally relatable.  After all, all students need to do is to choose at least one picture and tell a story about how it relates to teamwork. However, merely doing so will give students an average grade. Delving deeper and handling the essay with a better perspective is what differentiates average students from the crème de la crème.

 The trick to rise above the competition is to do one or more of the following:

  1. use more than one picture;
  2. indicate the relationship between the picture(s) and the topic clearly and concisely;
  3. use an interesting genre: as students are not penalised on text types, this means that they can attempt an essay with one of, or a combination of, the following:
  • by telling a story (narrative);
  • by giving their own take on a collaborated teamwork episode they have experienced before (personal recount);
  • by describing the event in detail with relevant responses (descriptive); or
  • by discussing how the three pictures highlight the theme (expository).

On the one hand, schools tend to play the safe card for a major exam such as the PSLE. Hence, students are generally encouraged to write a narrative essay in the PSLE. The competition heats up with this approach, since the way to break the 35-mark barrier would be to:

  1. have a different but interesting plot eg. including a plot twist
  2. use excellent scene and character descriptors
  3. showcase a personal voice with elegant expression
  4. have a flawless GSP

On the other hand, students should be equipped to approach the PSLE essay. At Creative Campus, while we prepare the students on how to approach the topic differently, we also harness their personal voice to develop a plot that is unique to them. The focus on techniques, rather than staid model essays, will gear them to attempt any topic with ease, and in the process, stand out from their peers.

On the first week of 2019, students at Creative Campus were taught how to handle the PSLE 2018 question effectively. Should you be interested to receive a sample copy of the notes, click the button below to view and download.

If you're viewing the worksheet on a mobile device, click the download icon to save the file.

Let’s Tickle Your Punny Bone

1. CAN'T FAULT HIM
A little boy in my infant class came to school and told me he could spell his mum’s name. “M-U-M,” he said proudly. Before I could congratulate him, another little boy said excitedly, “That’s how you spell my mum’s name too!”

2. FAST & FURIOUS
A turtle was walking down a dark alley when he was mugged by a gang of snails. A police detective came to investigate and asked the turtle if he could explain what happened. The turtle looked at the detective with a confused look on his face and replied, “I don’t know, it all happened so fast.”

3. MAN V. WOMAN
My newly retired husband was watching as I went about my daily routine. I vacuumed, cleaned, ironed and sorted the laundry, and after making us both a cup of coffee, I sat down. Hubby looked at me thoughtfully. Has he finally realised he could help, I wondered?

My hopes were dashed when he said, “Isn’t it wonderful how you always find ways to keep yourself so busy.”

4.NEW-AGE RESPONSE
When a teacher asked my six-year-old why his handwriting wasn’t as neat as usual, he responded, “I’m trying a new font.”

5.TRUTH BEWARE
A man approaches a very beautiful woman in a large supermarket and says, “I’ve lost my wife in the aisles. Would you mind talking to me for a couple of minutes?”

“Why?” the woman replies.

“Because every time I speak to a pretty lady, my wife appears out of nowhere.”

6. BIRDS OF FEATHER
A football coach called out the new member saying, "Look, I'm not supposed to have you on this team because you failed your mathematics but we really do need you to play for us. What I'll do is ask you one simple maths question and if you answer it correctly I'll sign a slip to say that you've passed maths, OK?'

The player nodded. "Right" said the coach: "What's four plus four?" The player wrinkled his forehead and thought for a while, then replied, "Eight!"

Immediately all the other team members shouted," Aw, come on coach. Give him another chance!"

7. OLD GENERATION
While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.

“It’s taped under the modem,” I told him.

After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”

8. HONESTY
A man is drinking with his wife when out of the blue he announces, "I love you."

"Is that you or the beer talking?" she asks.

"It’s me," he says, "talking to the beer."

Blog on English Essentials

Hello and welcome to our first of many blogs regarding English enrichment and its many aspects.  We will be talking about many forms and meanings relating to English, ranging from punctuation, pronunciation, spelling, grammar, phonics and a whole lot more.  

English Oral Practice

To start us off, we will begin by looking at oral and pronunciation, and why many students, who are learning English, find it difficult at first.  This is because everybody has an accent from their mother tongue and so can be difficult to lose when learning a new language. Furthermore, certain word soundings will be challenging, but keep practicing, and never give up if you really want to sound like a English native.

Here are three methods for you to try.

  • Arrow Circle Right

    Interacting with a native.

    This is the obvious and best method and will give you that much needed interaction of talking and listening that will be vital.  Subsequently, it will give direct access to an English source in which the person can help with your pronunciation. In addition, they will be able to identify your mispronunciation of words or syllables. If you need further assistance, listening to music or a podcast will definitely be of value.

  • Arrow Circle Right
    Study each word and sound them out.

    At this point, you can begin systematically focusing on specific sounds especially ones that give you the most trouble.  Do not give up and continue to sound them out, going slowly at first so that you accentuate each letter until you have it perfected, then you can speed it up.  Keep everything basic and do not rush ahead of yourself. Start off with small words and then work your way up to the more difficult and structurally longer vocabularies.
  • Arrow Circle Right
    Do you have the appropriate tools at your disposal?  

    Many English students study in one of two ways. Some buy a book and follow it blindly, where others enrol onto a course.  The prior will most likely focus on grammar rather than pronunciation, therefore, it can have major implications on your verbatim skills.  The latter, will offer you so much more in terms of an all rounded experience as you will be encompassed with other students starting off at the same level and a teacher to guide.

Let’s take a look at some words.

Socialisation (so shul iz a shion)

Television (tel a viz ion)

Following (fo low ing)

Pronouncing (pro nown sing)

Weather (weth er)

Internet (in te net)

Condition (con dit shon)

Anomaly (a nom ma lee)

Adding to letters (vowels) together will dramatically change the pronunciation.

ou and ow, gives the “ow” sound.Out, owl.

ea and ee, gives the “ee” sound.Fleeing, seeing, sea.

ie and ei, gives the “ee” sound.Receive, receipt,

oi, gives the oy sound.Choice.

Want To Know More About Our English Enrichment Classes? 
Call Us Today