Author Archive

Listening on the Net!

By: LEE CHEN PING (A126076)

In an ESL learning context, listening means to understand, recall and respond to speakers’ implicit and explicit meanings. Strategies to enhance listening skills are techniques or activities that contribute directly to the comprehension and recall of listening input. In other words, listening strategies can be classified by how the listener processes the input. Therefore, first of all, a teacher should conduct the listening activity in the classroom around a contextualised task. Contextualised listening activities are connected to real-life task and will give the listener an idea on what information to expect and what to do with the information after the listening process. For example, asking students to listen to a short radio broadcast to obtain information would be authentic and applicable in real-life situation.

Next, listening skills can be enhanced when the teacher defines the activity’s instructional goal and types of responses. Recognising the goals of listening comprehension will help students to formulate appropriate listening strategies. The students will be able to identify specific details of the message, determine the major facts about a massage, differentiate between main ideas and supporting details; and finally reproduce the message orally or in writing.

The third strategy to enhance listening skills among students is that teacher needs to check the level of difficulty of the listening text. It is very important to ensure that the information presented is well-organised. Listening will become effective when the text is presented in natural chronological orders, which have an informative title with obvious organisation – main ideas first, followed by details and examples. This will enable the students to conceptualise what they have heard and organise the information in their working memory easier.

So, I have discovered a great free website to enhance listening skills. AGENDA Web. They provided various types of free topics for students to choose.

Not only that, there are also recorded audio for students to practise listening. The files of the audio are very small and this makes the audio loading quite fast and convenient. The picture below shows the media button to control the audio from this website.

There are also tapescripts from the audio presented. The picture below shows an example of tape script of “Cloning Pets”.

There are also some exercises given based on the audio text. Exercises such as vocabulary, cloze, crossword puzzles, true/false and MCQ are included to give students variety in choosing the exercise that they prefer.

All in all, this website is a joy to visit for those who want to practise their listening skills 🙂


Teaching Literature: Potato People

By LEE CHEN PING (A126076)

As the Malaysia Form 2 students are learning “Potato People” by Angela Wright in their literature component, I realised the need to expose the background and historical setting for that story. Well, “Potato People” takes place in 1840s at Ireland where extreme famine occurred because their staple food, potatoes were attacked by fungus. People were left starving and death was common. Moreover, the English colonisation has worsened the whole situation. Therefore, most people tried to escape to America in order to survive.

The historical context above is not mentioned in the story. The story straight away starts with famine and the escape to America. Therefore, I believe most of the students will be wondering why there is famine and what had happened. If teachers are able to explain in detail about the history of Ireland, students will be able to understand the “Potato People” better.

So, I have created a short video about “The Great Famine” in Ireland. This video is quite short but very informative. Teachers are most welcome to use it for their set induction.

Enhance Speaking through Choral Speaking


When students think about choral speaking, often they will be afraid because of the long, long script that they will need to memorise. This is the wrong perception that we, as teachers need to change. Choral speaking can always be done in a classroom setting and it can be so much fun if a teacher is creative enough. A teacher can always use classical nursery rhyme in a choral speaking. It has the advantages of being short, easy vocabulary, and constant rhyme where students can remember easily. If a teacher can add few actions into the choral speaking, it will be superb as it enhances students’ memory in the combination of actions and the script.

Based on experience, I have tried a short choral speaking with my classmates back in the year 2010. There were 3 nursery rhymes that we used. When the lecturer taught us the action, the whole choral speaking was turned into a fresh vibe. Everyone is so excited to redo the whole choral speaking again and again. In less than one hour, we had all memorised the script and the action. So, this is our script.

Hickory Dickory Dock,
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down!
Hickory Dickory Dock.

A sailor went to sea sea sea
To see what he could see see see
But all that he could see see see
Was the bottom of the deep blue sea sea sea

Left, right, left
Left, right, left
I had a good job but I left
I left because nothing went right
Left, right, left

This is our choral speaking performance during the Institute English Open Day 2010. After we had finished the choral speaking, there were many teachers approached us asking for the script and to teach them the actions. I guess teachers all knew students will be very excited with this activity 🙂



Left, right, left

Left, right, left

I had a good job but I left

I left because nothing went right

Left, right, left

Writing Test: Information Transfer

By LEE CHEN PING (A126076)

Generally, if you want your students to improve in their writings, you need to ask them to write more! To do so, you might as well conduct more writing tests. The purpose of testing writing is to assess students’ writing skills. There are a lot of writing skills and sub-skills that a teacher can test but here I will only focus on the skill “Information Transfer”. I believe information transfer skill is very important for secondary students because this period of time acts as a transition for them to higher level learning. Eventually, they will begin to write formal articles, formal letters, and even arguments. Therefore, it is important to test them this skill so that interventions can be made in the early stage. An example of writing test is given below together with a model answer (please be noted that this question is an original work from the author (Lee Chen Ping), please cite if wish to reuse):


The graph below shows Internet Usage in Malaysia by Age Group, 2005 – 2007.

Write a report from the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Include an introduction and conclusion in your writing. Write in ONE paragraph only. You should write at least 150 words.

So, from this test, students need to interpret the non-liner data found in the bar graph as well as to explore the connection or co-relation between each aspect or each bar in the graph. The skills tested here are transferring information from non-linear to linear texts, understanding non-linear information, making predictive connection or co-relation from the graph, summarising information and presenting a conclusion. In short, students must analyse the data found in the non-linear graphic and report the findings. Also, this essay allows students to utilise writing skills such as making comparisons, organising materials and making judgment. Teaching formal writing might be very dry for the class; therefore teacher should always present interesting materials relating to students’ lives such as entertainment, technology, movies, celebrities, and even sports.

Model Answer

The graph shows changes in the age profile of Internet users in Malaysia between 2005 and 2007. The main users of Internet are young adults between 16-30 years old. In 2005, they accounted for more than half of all users. In 2006, it dropped slightly to 45%, and 44% in 2007. The second biggest group is aged between 31 and 50. They made up 41% in 2005, failing slightly to 37% in 2007. When combined with the 16-30 age groups, both groups made up over 90% of all users in Malaysia. However, this number is dropping steadily as more children and older users started to use the Internet. In 2006, children online quadrupled from 2% to 8%, and it continues to increase in 2007. There were similar increases for older users, rising from 4% in 2005 to 10% in 2000. In conclusion, although adults have the highest percentage, their share is declining as more children and older users join the web. (160 words)

Speaking: Group Presentation Using Slide Shows

By: LEE CHEN PING (A126076)

In an ESL learning context, speaking skills encompass articulating competently and creatively to explore, develop and sustain ideas through talk. Creating classroom speaking activities will develop students’ communicative competence. However, there are strategies need to be employed by a teacher to incorporate a purpose and information gap and allow multiple forms of expression among students. You cannot ask students to speak something that is unrelated to the academic purposes. It is good if students draft and rehearse what they want to report to the whole class later. Teacher then goes around advising students on language, suggesting phrases and helping students to polish and correct their language. The emphasis is on clarity, organisation and accuracy of students’ speaking skills in using the language. Giving an opportunity to rehearse ideas before they contribute them to the class can support students who are hesitant or need longer time to organise their thought.

“Group presentation using slide shows” is about a group of students working on a topic of interest and presenting them to the class using slide shows. The presentation can be in between 5 – 10 minutes. Students are given a few days earlier to prepare so that they can be confident during speaking. This will also reduce wrong usage of grammar and struggle with words.

Why this activity is done in a group? This is because each group member can contribute in different areas such as internet research, slides design, grammar check, and presentation skills. It is always good if a group of students have their own strength and combine them together to create a dynamic group. Also, the group presentation can help other students enhancing their listening skills as well. It is important for the teacher to ask questions to the students about the presentation so that they will listen attentively. Group presentation also promotes extensive reading where students will do some extra reading outside of the classroom. Rewarding students who presented well will increase their motivation to do better next time.

Although many teachers think that this activity is very time consuming, it only takes up to 60 minutes if there are 6 groups presenting their 8-10 minutes slides. The preparation of the presentation should be done outside the class to encourage self-learning and independent-learning. While doing this task, students will also indirectly learn more about technology and softwares.

Some of the suitable titles for secondary students are:
1)      Hobbies / Interests
2)      Technology
3)      Entertainment
4)      Famous People
5)      Interesting Places
6)      Favourite Books / Magazines
7)      Latest Issues

The above topics are just a guideline for the teacher. If students can come out with their own interesting topics and relevant to the academic purposes, teachers are most welcome to accept them.

Introducing Parts of Speech

Parts of speech or word class in English is very important in improving writing, reading, listening and speaking. It is advisable for a leaner to master all parts of speech to ensure a better understanding of how each word works in a sentence. Here is a short video clip introducing 9 word classes – Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Conjunction, Preposition, Determiner, Pronoun and Interjection. Mastering the 9 word classes will help you to catch up easily on the next post. Here you go.