Saturday, 18 October 2014

Insider Tips on doing English Exercises

As most of you know that I have a little bit of teaching experience for the primary level, and along the way, have picked up some tips and tricks that teachers employ in their classrooms to improve the kids' performance. In this little post I want to share some of those with you so that you can also guide your kids if you think that they are applicable to you. I have already done numerous posts on related topics to education, just search the labels for 'education' and you'll get more tips on improving reading, IQ, motivation etc. Now these may be familiar to a lot of you moms out there, but it never hurts to brush up and hone in on those skills. So here we go:

For Comprehension:

1. Read the questions first: Now I myself have never been very comfortable with this method, but for those of you who have kids that struggle with comprehension, this is actually quite effective. It instills the general feel of the passage above without actually having read it. And it brings me to my second point:
2. Key words: The questions of course, provide key words, and many answers can be fished out using these, except for the types of questions that ask for reasons. It is especially handy in other subjects like Arabic or Urdu.
3. Order: Mostly the order of the questions will correspond to the order of events in the passage, but not always. It is mostly true for younger classes. But still a good pointer to give the kids help find where the answer may lie.
4. Topic: Many a time, the child is required to name the passage, give it a topic. Kids do have a hard time with this one since they are unaware about the main point of the passage itself. This requires practice but a solid way to go about it is to ask the child what they feel the moral of the story is, or what made the story most interesting and then come up with a brief heading for it.

For Composition:

1. The body: Consider the essay or story to be written a living being that has a head, body and legs. So then it should have a beginning, middle and end. Even a basic composition is based on this fact. I know so many kids who don't even know this and just write it all as one (unless it is a paragraph that needs to be written).
2. Essay skeleton: I ask my kids to draw a skeleton and jot down the main points divided into the three parts mentioned above. For a simple example let's take a topic called "Visit to the Beach". So 3 points in the beginning for an introduction of when, where and how. Then comes the main body with the main events like what happened, feelings, highlight etc, and for the ending just wrap it up like being tired, had fun, went home with good memories. Trust me, lots of kids find it so much easier to actually pen it out after the skeleton is made out. The middle portion can be broken into 2 paragraphs as well.
3. Introducing the paragraph: Tell the child the first sentence should be what the rest of the paragraph should be about, for instance taking the above example, the first sentence could be, " I woke up feeling very excited" and then build on that.
4. Building atmosphere: Ask kids to use descriptive words where they can, for elder kids teach them a few good general metaphors and similes. Click here for a few examples. Also use words like 'Oh!', 'Wham', etc help to set the tone.
5. Proper grammar usage: This of course, comes with practice, but it does count a lot. Our kids are familiar with most punctuation marks but they are rather careless though aren't they?

Most kids do the prose part of the English paper rather well since it is heavily dependent on memory but lose marks in the above two categories.I know that all this lies in the teacher's jurisdiction to teach, but I just wanted to give a tiny crash course on how you can also reinforce and in fact, in some cases teach the above tactics to your kids. I hope this has been helpful and looking forward to hearing from comments from you, except of course how boring it was.....