Saturday, 12 May 2018

PSLE English Is Tough

If your child is facing difficulty in PSLE English, he is not alone. Singapore’s PSLE English is tough by international standards. Compare the Primary 6 examination paper from the Cambridge International Primary Programme (CIPP) to the PSLE English paper, and you will know why. In fact, try doing PSLE English Paper 2, without referring to the answer key, you will realise that it is by no means an easy paper. Try answering the question below.

Neither Jane nor her friends _______ (is/are) coming.

Which word should fill the blank – “is” or “are”? Many adults, who have diplomas and degrees, are not sure about the answer. Are you 100% sure?

The PSLE English papers of the 1970s,1980s and 1990s were not this tough. Had the examination then been this tough, many Singaporean students then would have failed the paper. Do you realise that even though English is the main language used at home for many students, they still face difficulty in English. Why is this so? One reason is because the words spoken in a Singaporean home is not adequate enough to prepare a child for PSLE English. Really? Yes, really. They may be enough to prepare students for the CIPP but not the PSLE. 

Do you know the meanings and spelling of the words below? Did you know them when you were 12? Are these words commonly spoken at home?

synagogue  stevedore        defecate      silhouette    entice    lure   squeal  

Do you think most Singaporean adults know their meanings and spelling? If they do not, can you blame your child for not knowing a significant number of words in the PSLE English paper?

To make matters worse, finding a good teacher/tutor who can teach PSLE English well is a challenge. For English, it is difficult to find tutors and tuition centres that can produce results. Why is this so? Firstly, there are many components to be mastered in English and secondly, some components are quite complex for 12 year olds to master. One example is reading comprehension. 

Fortunately, for over a decade, the series entitled The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Comprehension (by Shaheed Salim) has helped teachers and students with teaching and mastering this component. If your child finds PSLE English tough, then perhaps his classes by might help.