Starting from 2014, students in Primary 4 and younger will have a new format for Oral English (including PSLE Oral).
The new Oral Exam format -more conversation, less monologue
Instead of having a picture to look at and describe, the Oral is now a ‘Stimulus-Conversation’.
Your child will have a so-called ‘graphic stimulus’. This may be a picture showing a book-cover, it may be an advertisement, it may be a notice, or some form of visual information.
Your child will have to answer the examiner’s questions based on the graphic stimulus (e.g. “Do you think you would like to sign up for this camp? Why?”)
After that, your child may be given a topic related to the stimulus in order to give a short talk. (e.g. “If you organise a camp what activities would you plan?”)
How can you help your child to score?
· Look carefully. Listen carefully.
In order to do well, your child has to have the visual and verbal receptive language skills and be able to read and interpret the graphic or visual stimulus, as well as to understand the examiner’s questions.
Your child also has to have the necessary experience or general knowledge in order to have opinions, and the expressive language skills to use the appropriate words and sentences to express his or her ideas.
Top 3 Tips for Students
1. LISTEN TO THE QUESTION.
2. Use words from the question if you can – this helps you stay on the topic (e.g. “favourite”, “advantages” etc)
3. Use complete sentences.
You can help by doing the following on a regular basis:
1. Look out for information to read around us (notices, newspaper articles, advertisements etc)
2. Make a habit of selecting one on a regular basis and discuss them casually.
Do not keep asking questions like an ‘interrogation’- this may affect your child’s confidence in oral examinations. Instead, ‘model’ or demonstrate how you express your opinions about them (“Look, they want to encourage people to be environment-friendly and bring their own bags. That is a good idea. We should support them.”)
3. Look out for key vocabulary or questions that your child may need to understand and explain them. For example, it would be hard for your child to talk about “What do you think is the greatest invention?” if s/he does not even know what ‘invention’ means. Other words include “advantages”, “disadvantages”.
4. Give examples to illustrate different words your child may use to answer questions. For example, when asked “How often …?” type of questions, your child may need to know a range of words such as ‘everyday’, ‘once in a while’, or ‘hardly ever’ etc.
5. Praise and encourage your child for original thinking and attempting to put his thoughts into words even if he does not get it right on the first attempt. Rephrase his attempt to show him how he can say it.
6. The key word here is ‘conversation’. Don’t make it an ‘interrogation’, or artificial drill. Think about how we have conversations with other people: keep the information clear and interesting, and the atmosphere positive.
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