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9 teachers lauded for efforts to make students passionate about English language

Bendemeer Primary School pupils who attend Ms Melody Heng Jing Hui's English class have sometimes come to school in their pyjamas for a "pyjama party".

Ms Heng has also asked them to stick their hand into a black box with something cold and furry inside, all in the name of teaching pupils how to better recount and describe their experiences for their English lessons.

Her efforts paid off. For instance, after the pyjama party class, she noticed that her pupils handed in some of their best work.

Ms Heng's unique teaching style was one reason why she was given the Inspiring Teacher of English Award on Thursday.

The award was presented by the Speak Good English Movement and The Straits Times, with the support of the Education Ministry.

Nine English language subject teachers, including those for English literature, from primary and secondary schools were lauded at the ceremony, which was held at the National Library Building.

Now in its 15th year, a total of 127 teachers have won the award so far.

Education Minister Chan Chun Sing was the guest of honour at the event.

In his address, he said teachers played a critical role in teaching English, which is a lingua franca and is important both locally and globally.

He said: "The future workplace requires our students to develop new and higher levels of competencies."

There is also a need to cater to students who come from diverse backgrounds, he added.

Mr Chan said: "We will need to harness language learning to develop other literacies... In a world inundated with information, especially in the digital space, we will need to help our students acquire the skill of sense-making and instinct for discernment."

Another award recipient was Mr Lee De Yi, 30, an English and English literature teacher at Swiss Cottage Secondary School, who uses an activity called Headlines to spark students' interest in news and current affairs.

The activity entails removing some words from newspaper headlines, then getting students to find out the missing details, among other things.

Meanwhile, Ms Gladys Lim Yean Yue, 29, from Outram Secondary School, turned to TikTok to stimulate her students' interest in using English to think critically about the world.

She realised that some of them lacked confidence in their own abilities, which led to a disinterest in the English subject.

One of the recipients in the leadership category, Ms Sarah Chia Hui'E, 36, the head of department for English language and literature at Chung Cheng High School (Main), developed a virtual poetry trail for the students of her school and Changkat Changi Secondary School.

On the trail, the students used Google Earth to virtually explore the civic district, and poems related to various landmarks there. They also used Google Meet to share their views on the poems they read.

Ms Chia said students, through participating in the trail, would be able to gain more than just "literature in exams, but just a love for literature in general".

Each teacher received a cash prize of $2,000, a certificate, a trophy, as well as a two-year membership to the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics.

  • Additional reporting by Andrea Goh

Recipients of Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2022

Teaching category:

Mr Edwin Pang, 44, English language teacher at Xinmin Primary School

Ms Melody Heng Jing Hui, 31, English language teacher at Bendeemer Primary School

Madam Norashikin Hassan, 41, senior teacher of English language at Qihua Primary School

Mr Lee De Yi, 30, English language and literature teacher at Swiss Cottage Secondary School

Ms Gladys Lim Yean Yue, 29, English language teacher at Outram Secondary School

Mr Lim Zhan Yi, 31, English language and literature teacher at Hwa Chong Institution

Leadership category:

Ms Clare Lim Kai Li, 35, head of department for English language at Fuchun Primary School

Ms Sarah Chia Hui'E, 36, head of department for English language and literature at Chung Cheng High School (Main)

Ms Betsy Teo Mei Chin, 49, head of department for English language and literature at Crescent Girls' School

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