My Blog

The million-dollar question – Poly or JC?

19 January 2019

The O level results were released recently.  Now, many students will embark on the next phase of their education journey.  This begs the question generation of school leavers face: “Poly of JC”

JCs place more emphasis on understanding theoretical concepts – a more academic mode of learning.  If this is what you like and if you are also comfortable with language or even good at it, then JC is what you should pursue next.  On the other hand, getting your hands dirty to prove theoretical concepts makes your eyes sparkle, then Poly is where you will shine.

In fact, the education system has revamped so much that it is no longer true that JC is seen as more superior.  Many top students are aware of their career goals and head straight to Polys despite being able get into any JC of their choice.  

Remember, never chase after rewards.  Chase after your passion; success will come.  This cannot be more true.  If I had focused on money to be made from writing a book, I probably and very likely would not be able to even come up with my first book.  It’s passion that drives me to innovate and to offer the best and something new.  That is why I have been able to come up with seven books so far.  The rewards follow.    

Good luck to your endeavours.

Critical Response Text for IP Students

14 December 2018

The Critical Response Text is an English Paper 3 component for students in the Integrated Programme (IP).  Students are required to write a critical response text of about 200 words based on a visual.  This is a challenging component that most IP students grapple with.  

Thus, this book provides a step-by-step guide, enabling students to understand and apply the techniques of a well-structured critical response text.  The visuals have also been carefully designed to reflect a wide range of social issues from ethics to technology.

This book is the only material available in the market to date, for IP students seeking help in the Critical Response Text.

I Feel Pretty!

10 November 2018

I would like to recommend this hilarious movie.  More importantly, behind the laughter is a subtle message of what makes a person attractive.  It’s not physical appearance but something from within – self-confidence.

In the movie, this intelligent overweight girl meets with an accident and somehow when she looks at the mirror, she sees herself transforms into a supermodel.  But nothing has changed really.  As she thinks she’s a supermodel, she carries herself with great confidence.  She’s lively around people and cheerful all the time.  People are drawn to her and think she’s amazing.  Her life completely changes because of her confidence!

Go on, watch the movie and be impressed by the storyline!

How accurate is your pronunciation?

5 August 2018

The O-level students will be taking the English O-level oral exams in two weeks’ time.  In fact, I always tell students that the oral exam is the easiest to score.  Examiners are NOT there to assess how intelligent your ANSWERS are.  Rather, they are looking for that candidate who is relaxed and articulate enough to hold a decent conversation.  Really, it’s as simple as just chatting with your friends, teachers or parents; albeit with correct grammar as you speak.  

For those who would like to have more practice and tips on tackling the exams, you may grab a copy of my O-Level English Oral book from The Popular bookstores.  The book also includes the official assessment criteria by the Exams Board.

As for reading, just be mindful of commonly mispronounced words that you may encounter.  

Some schools have provided students with a list of words mispronounced by most people.  And today, I would like to share some of these words.  Even for those who are not taking the exams, knowing the correct pronunciation is certainly useful in our everyday conversation.

A Volunteer Session

8 July 2018

Last month, I did a 4.5-hour lecture for O level students and parents at the Buddhist Cultural Centre.  Aptly titled “Have Fun with English 2018”, the participants had fun while gaining important insights into Situational Writing and Comprehension techniques in particular.

Though it was really tiring, seeing the enlightened faces of our young was worth every effort that I put in.  It’s a voluntary work that I do at the centre for two years running already (you may scroll down to read about the 1st session conducted in Aug 2017)  

Doing the lecture is my way of returning back to society for what I have been blessed with thus far.

Intelligence and Wisdom

1 June 2018

Have you ever wondered the difference between Intelligence and Wisdom?  The dictionary would explain that Intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills; whereas Wisdom is the ability to think sensibly.

Indeed, Intelligence is about one’s intellectual capability and Wisdom is knowing what is right from wrong.  Not everyone possesses both Intelligence and Wisdom, and if one does, it is a blessing indeed.  So then, which is more important?  Intelligence or wisdom?

Currently, a doctor stands trial of molesting and raping his patients (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/doctor-accused-of-molesting-raping-patient-goes-on-trial).  And in 2014, a Global Head of an international bank was found guilty of taking upskirt videos (https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/former-bank-executive-fined-6000-for-filming-upskirt-video-at-marina-bay-link)  Certainly, these well-learned individuals are no less intelligent to become doctors or high-level executives of multi-national corporations.  However, because of their lack of wisdom, they have got themselves into trouble and lost everything that they have worked hard to establish.  If found guilty, the doctor may lose his license and be sent to jail.  The bank executive was fired from his job and fined.

The moral of this article; Intelligence may help you get very far in life.  But the lack of Wisdom will make you lose everything.  So if you have to choose between Intelligence and Wisdom, I am sure you know what to choose.

Have you ever failed?

25 April 2018

Came across a very good article in the Sunday Times dated 1 Apr 2018. 

The writer sits on the panel of interviewers in a scholarship interview to look for the right candidate.  All the applicants fitted the typical profile of potential scholars – good schools, stupendous grades and sterling achievements in co-curricular activities.  Everyone seemed to possess unsullied records.  But the writer and the panel of interviewers were less than impressed…  When the applicants were asked if they ever failed, they were stumped. 

The interviewers were looking for that down-to-earth applicant who would share with them his failure and how he confronted and overcame his setbacks.  Indeed, in my blogpost dated 1 Jan 2017, I mentioned “it ain’t how hard you hit.  It’s how hard you can get hit and keep moving till you get there”. 

Certainly, the judges have no doubt scholarship applicants’ potential to continue the string of achievements in life.  But to survive a setback and remain resilient is a question mark.  Barely three years ago in 2015, society witnessed how a straight As student allowed a ‘setback’ to crush her – by jumping to her death.
(read: https://www.allsingaporestuff.com/article/spore-straight-student-commits-suicide-after-getting-b-o-levels)

So for those who wish to apply for scholarships or even that coveted job opening in future, don’t shy away from your failure.  Talk about it and impress the interviewers with your fighting spirit.  After all, success is merely ephemeral that we celebrate, but we learn from failure that makes us wiser.

Is the teacher always right?

05 April 2018

A friend recently sought help from me to check if his son’s answers to his K2 homework were correct.  I draw to your attention Q1 – ‘on the bus’ or ‘in the bus

The boy’s answer was correct but he was not sure why.  Why do we say in the car but on the bus instead?  He was happy after being enlightened and submitted his work.  His joy was short-lived when he was told by his teacher that the answer should be ‘in the bus’ since children are inside the bus.  The poor boy was confused…

I am glad my friend verified with me instead of following blindly what the teacher had claimed.  To which, I provided a credible source – Ministry of Education’s (MOE) explanation.

This is not an isolated case of our educators obfuscating our young.  I have come across students attempting to use difficult vocabulary that they have learned outside the classroom – only to be penalised because the teachers are not familiar.  I am not advocating that our educators must be walking encyclopaedias.  But certainly they can do better than to simply disregard our young minds when they experiment with something new.  When something seems unfamiliar, mutual learning happens. 

How to Ace Eng.lish Paper 2 – Part 2

27 March 2018

Last month I shared the standard questions that are found in the Paper 2 Visual Text.  This month, I would like to continue with the final component, which is the standard questions for comprehension.

1. Literary Device

There are plenty of literary devices.  Students are generally only required to identify the 3 common ones in the exams:

  • Personification
    • Something that adds a human characteristic to inanimate objects
    Eg. The abandoned house has blank staring windows
  • SimileEg. The survivor was bobbing like a cork in the open sea
  • MetaphorEg. We are nothing but cogs in the huge economic machine…

2. Using your Own Words

To paraphrase an answer using your own words, you simply change the verbsadjectivesadverbs and possibly nouns in the sentence or phrase.  In short, the word form.  All words typically have four word forms namely:

Noun                 example: beauty
Adjective          example: beautiful
Verb                  example: beautify
Adverb               example: beautifully

For example to paraphrase the sentence below:
‘The camera is able to locate exactly the whereabouts of the endangered species’.
The camera is capable to clearly identify the position of the threatened species.

3. Irony

To explain something that is ironic, all you need is to show an outcome or situation contradicts what we expect.  For example:
Tigers are endangered species, and they are poached aggressively…
What is ironic about the above?

Since tigers are becoming extinct, we should protect them, instead, we kill them in great numbers.

4. Unusual and Effective

In order to show why something is unusual, simply compare it with logic or reality.  And being effective refers to emphasis; that is, what it is trying to emphasise.  For example:

“When Andy entered the dank cave, he was greeted with a sickly sweet smell of rotting flesh.
What is unusual and effective about the underlined phrase?

It is unusual as rotting flesh should not smell sweet, which is pleasant.  The phrase is effective as the combination of sickly and sweet in the smell emphasises how repulsive it is.

5. Language use Question

This type of question requires students to firstly identify the phrase that explains something (be careful of excess denied!!)  After identifying the phrase, explain what it means in your own words.  For example:

– Explain how the language used shows danger in the expedition.

First, identify the phrase
“rewards a false step with whatever comes after life”

Then, explain what the phrase means
“rewards a false step with whatever comes after life” shows that any wrong move in the expedition will result in death

With all the valuable tips I have shared so far in Paper 2, I hope it provides some insights and confidence in tackling your Visual Text and Comprehension henceforth.  Good luck!