8 educators receive Inspiring Teacher of English Award for their innovation and passion, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

8 educators receive Inspiring Teacher of English Award for their innovation and passion

Ms Yvonne Koh Feng Ying, a senior teacher for General Paper at Jurong Pioneer Junior College, plants “spies” among her students.

The spies are tasked with providing incorrect answers during discussions – to keep their classmates on their toes and be alert to potential falsehoods or misinformation.

Ms Koh, 38, said that this method makes learning more enjoyable for her students and helps them to remember and better apply what they have learnt.

“There is a lot of metacognition going on, where they are not just answering the question but are reflecting and analysing each other’s answers,” added Ms Koh, who adapted the idea from Among Us, a popular online game where players have to figure out who among them are foes.

On Friday, she was one of eight recipients of 2023’s Inspiring Teacher of English Award, which recognises the efforts of English language educators who are passionate about making English interesting and relevant to their students, and are innovative in helping their students to learn better. There were 120 nominations this year.

Another award recipient encourages his students to use artificial intelligence in their learning, while a third welcomes students to express themselves using song lyrics, music and memes.

The 16th edition of the award was presented at the National Museum of Singapore by the Speak Good English Movement and The Straits Times, with the support of the Ministry of Education.

Director-general of education Liew Wei Li, who was the guest of honour at the event, expressed her appreciation of the teachers’ efforts in inspiring their students to master and use the English language effectively, which will open up a world of opportunities for them.

She said: “Words can be trained to communicate shades of meaning. Words can evoke and convey emotions, like how they can be whipped to spin feelings. As we teach our students to communicate confidently and persuasively, we must also help them to wield the power of words responsibly, especially on the Internet.”

Since it was launched in 2008, 135 teachers have won the award, which comprises two categories – the teaching category for excellence in the teaching of the English language, literature or General Paper; and the leadership category for heads of department, subject heads and level heads who have created and implemented relevant and innovative programmes, among other initiatives.

Mr Shawn Lim You Hao, 29, of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), received the award in the teaching category for guiding his students to create AI-generated essays on topical social issues.

He said: “In this way, they are not only honing their critical eye, but also understanding that artificial intelligence has its limitations.”

Besides Mr Lim and Ms Koh, the other three award winners in the teaching category in 2023 were Ms Leena Priya Segaran, Mr James Koh Sze Ming, and Ms Heng Siok Tian, who is also a poet with six published titles.

Ms Jan Lim Hui Mei, 37, the head of department for Language Arts at National Junior College, is one of the three award winners in the leadership category.

Emphasising that teachers must adapt as language evolves, she said: “I have to keep myself updated on trends and teen lingo so that I can teach them how to communicate their ideas (more effectively and accurately).”

Ms Lim creates a safe space for her students to express their ideas, from letting them make reference to memes, to allowing them to use a different language. “I encourage my students to use their voice when expressing their thoughts during Language Arts lessons,” she said.

Ms Phay Ee Lyn and Ms Crescendra Tan Xiu Mei were also lauded under the leadership category.

Mr Jaime Ho, editor of The Straits Times, said of the teachers: “Teachers have always been at the heart of what we do as a society to develop an informed and engaged citizenry. It is therefore The Straits Times’ privilege to work with teachers in reaching out to our youngest audiences, to develop a love for the English language, and an appreciation of how language helps us navigate an increasingly complex world.”

The winners each received a cash award of $2,000, a certificate, a trophy, as well as a two-year membership to the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics. They were nominated by their schools or students.

Recipients of Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2023

Teaching category:

  • Ms Leena Priya Segaran, 30, English language teacher at Xishan Primary School
  • Mr James Koh Sze Ming, 47, English literature master teacher at Raffles Institution
  • Mr Shawn Lim You Hao, 29, English literature teacher at Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
  • Ms Heng Siok Tian, 60, English literature teacher at Hwa Chong Institution (College)
  • Ms Yvonne Koh Feng Ying, 38, General Paper senior teacher at Jurong Pioneer Junior College

Leadership category:

  • Ms Jan Lim Hui Mei, 37, head of department for Language Arts at National Junior College
  • Ms Phay Ee Lyn, 45, head of department for English language at Assumption English School
  • Ms Crescendra Tan Xiu Mei, 39, head of department for English language and Literature in English at Naval Base Secondary School