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Necessity, mother (language) of innovation

Necessity, mother (language) of innovation

Zhenghua High School Chinese students use the Nearpod in class.

In Mr. G. Murugan’s Tamil language lesson, students are blessed by the teacher to create TikTok videos – but, of course, only for the school.

These videos were designed for the TikTok competition in Bendemir High School Tamil, just one of a variety of teaching and learning strategies that native language teachers (MTL) are experimenting with to satisfy students who may have difficulty understanding the importance of their mother tongue in their lives. ; their native language teaching is not only to prepare students for exams, but rather to foster a lifelong interest in the language.

Tamil language teachers at Bendemir High School use Flipgrid, a site where students film themselves to participate in discussions. This, in turn, strengthens students ’public speaking skills. Flipgrid looks and works as a social networking site, making online learning more appealing to social media people.

Bendemir High School students in Tamil use Flipgrid to post videos in which they speak Tamil, with fancy filters to enhance their presentation!

That’s not all. Mr Murugan, a leading Tamil school teacher, shares how Tamil teachers also use “a variety of interactive web tools” such as Edpuzzle (for embedding MCQs or short answers in instructional videos), Go formative (where teachers can view and evaluate students’ work online, in real time), Wordwall.net (with over 20 lesson templates for gamification quizzes) and more to create an interactive learning environment.
Edpuzzle allows teachers to insert MCQ or short-answer questions into instructional videos.

Edpuzzle allows teachers to insert MCQ or short-answer questions into instructional videos.

A happy coincidence in a difficult time

This year’s reconstruction of the native language curriculum in high school coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic. The new curriculum focuses on e-pedagogy, which is appropriate for this generation of students who may be more accustomed to “performing” on social media than in the classroom. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Educational technology has gained momentum worldwide since the impact of COVID-19. Video conferencing tools, online learning software, learning management systems … Thanks to technological advances, there are now a number of digital tools that teachers can choose from in addition to familiar titles such as Zoom or Kahoot.

The transition to fully online classes for the first time was not easy for teachers. “Complete home schooling during the switch period in 2020 initially brought new challenges and concerns,” said Ms. Sobi Kim, head of Zhenhua High School’s native language department, “but teachers were able to quickly come together to choose the most appropriate ICT tools and online platforms.” learning to help students cope with this new form of learning ”.

For example, at Zhenghua High School, Li Yun Wen’s Chinese language lessons teach students language comprehension through Nearpod, a platform that offers interactive slides, videos, games, and instant assessments. Students use an open-ended questions tool to type or write down their answers in Chinese.

Zhenghua High School Chinese students who use Nearpod

Zhenghua High School Chinese High School students use the Nearpod to add answers to a shared page.

At this time, the needs of teachers have taken up the challenge and taken advantage of the wealth of modern educational technology to provide their students with the best possible online learning.

Our native language lives outside the classroom

Crucial to MTL learning is helping students relate language to contexts and uses outside the classroom. Our MTL teachers have invented fun formats for students to practice their MTL in addition to traditional school grades.

At Zhenghua High School, Ms. Li Jiao’s students practice Chinese through speech writing. During HBL, she instructed her middle 2 senior Chinese language classes to prepare a speech for a public audience. Students begin by researching sample speeches and relevant data to confirm their statements. Pupils’ scripts are tested for plagiarism, and finally students send their draft speeches for evaluation to both teachers and colleagues. “This event helped the students a lot,” she says. “The feedback helped the students improve their performances in terms of creativity and quality, and they were all able to improve their performances.”

At Bendemir High School, Secondary 2 Express Tamil Language students read Tamil excerpts about the historical context in China, Sri Lanka and India with varying levels of assistance (you can read the excerpt with annotations or with images and videos). ). They then wrote a comparison and analysis of the texts. Later, learning was consolidated in the classroom when all students presented their analyzes and applied them in the context of Singapore.

“Teachers also co-organized online Tamil language competitions with Tamil literary associations such as Kavimaalai Singapore, the Singapore Tamil Writers Association and Makkal Kavingnar Mandram, even against the backdrop of COVID-19,” Mr Murugan said.

Students of the 1st High School participated in the TikTok competition, and students of the 2nd High School participated in the debate competition. Grade 3 students also participated in a competition in which they could demonstrate their skills such as acting, stand-up comedy, drawing, singing or advertising crafting.

Mr Murugan adds: “Through these classes, students have learned that learning their mother tongue involves not only writing works and understanding reading and listening, but also appreciating a rich history and culture.”

Strengths of constraints

Of course, online learning has its limitations. However, there are strengths, even in the limitations.

Each student learns at a different pace, and online learning in this regard is more convenient.

In Meridian Secondary, teachers integrate HBL into teaching hours in the form of Independent Learning Days (ILD). Mdm Norazisza uses a blended learning approach, starting with a synchronous lesson – where all students are present and online with a teacher on our national e-learning platform, the Student Learning Space (SLS).

“Then students have an asynchronous HBL lesson where they can study and consolidate their learning at their own time and at their own pace,” explains Mdm Norazisza. To help students make better use of their increased autonomy during ILD, she worked with fellow faculty to jointly develop rubrics for students to self-assess their progress and foster self-directed learning.

Malay language lesson at Bendemer High School using SLS

Based on students ’responses through a survey in SLS, Mdm Norazisza students use rubric assessments to self-assess their progress.

During the SLS e-mail lesson for Malay, students of the 2nd high school listened to an audio story called “Quarantine” (wabak in Malay). One student suggested taking notes to anchor key information. Mdm Norazisza agreed that it was a good idea, and encouraged the class to do the same, which confirmed the student’s spirit of self-study. At the end of the lesson, she interviewed her students about understanding difficult words in an audio story and found that notes help students understand and memorize complex words.

Kahut is also used in Malay language lessons to test students ’memory for new words and suffixes.

Kahut is also used in Malay language lessons to test students ’memory for new words and suffixes.

Online learning has had a long way to go in a short period of time. HBL and social media aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Thus, meeting students where they are, in part, involves moving with them into a digital space for teaching and learning. Thanks to the creative and intelligent use of various tools of educational technology, our teachers have found ways to better meet the language skills of their students. Technology helps them create an environment in which students of all levels of competence can enjoy their own success – and hopefully deepen students’ interest in their mother tongue.

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