LiteracyPlus Tidbits: Oral Communication Skills

BUILDING ORAL COMMUNICATION SKILLS

 

The ability to communicate effectively is an important skill. Cultivating good oral communication skills takes practice and reinforcement. Thankfully, there are many ways that parents can incorporate the teaching and reinforcement of oral communication skills in everyday situations.

 

Keep It Casual

Have your child share about his/her day, or any topic of interest, but have him/her do so facing you so you can focus on your child’s posture, eye contact and voice projection. Content does not always have to be a priority. You want to ingrain good foundational oral skills in your child.

 

Poetry

Poetry is a great tool to practise delivery skills. Select a short, funny poem as ‘Poem of the Week’ for your child to practise with.

 

Once Upon A Time

Use short sentences from well-known stories or fairy tales for your child to practise oral delivery skills. “Who ate my porridge?” (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) and “I will huff, and I will puff, and I will blow your house down!” (The Three Little Pigs), for example, are great for children to practise tone, facial expressions and voice projection. Encourage your child to come up with other good sentences from his/her favourite stories.

 

The Big “C”

Consistency is key! Practising good oral communication skills should not only be done close to exams, but across the board at all times. Be vigilant in correcting your child’s incorrect pronunciation and incorrect language usage. (I want go toilet vs. I would like to use the washroom.)

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: SBC

STIMULUS-BASED CONVERSATION

 

Tip #1

Do not give one word ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers. Instead, elaborate your answers when responding.

Don’t stop after saying something general. Remember the 5Ws and 1H (who, what, when, where, why & how) to help you elaborate.

 

Tip #2

Carry on your conversation with the examiner until he/she asks you to stop. When you close your conversation, remember to go back to the topic in your conclusion (e.g. Singapore will be a more gracious society and a happier place in which to live if we are all kind to the elderly. After all, we will all grow old one day too!).

LiteracyPlus Tips: Reading Aloud

READING ALOUD

 

Tip #1

When reading the test passage, pronounce words clearly and correctly. 

  • Know the difference between the short vowel ĭ and the long vowel ē sound.

e.g.  chĭck / cheek      slĭp / sleep      fĭll / feel

  • Pronounce end consonants clearly.

e.g.  Tom wants (not ‘want’) to play football.

e.g.  Do your best (not ‘bess’) later.

  • Know how to pronounce thcorrectly.

e.g.  This (not ‘dis’) is the way to school.

e.g.  My father (not ‘fah-der’) drives a taxi.

 

Tip #2

Read expressively so your reader does not get bored.

  • Vary your pitch, making sure that your voice goes up and down.

e.g.  Where are the children? (questions end on a high note)

e.g.  It’s time for dinner. (affirmative statements should end in a level pitch)

  • Stress the important words.

e.g.  Let’s eat children.   vs.   Let’s eat, children.

  • Adjust your volume so you don’t speak in a monotone.

e.g.  Soft to Loud: whisper–mutter–state–announce–demand–exclaim–shout

 

Tip #3

Practice chunking phrases to develop fluency.

  • Focus on reading groups of words, or phrases, rather than individual words.
  • Practise using slashes (/ /) to group words into phrases. Remember to pause when you see a full-stop or comma.

When the starter fired his gun, / the competitors dashed off with John in the lead. / Ben followed closely behind, / waiting for the right time for his final sprint. / At the last bend, / he began to pull ahead. / Finally, / he reached the finishing line / two full seconds before his classmate. / He had won the race!

LiteracyPlus Tidbits: Literature

THE VALUE OF LITERATURE

 

The very word ‘Literature’ brings to mind dusty, difficult books stacked in a rarely frequented corner of the library, or long hours spent dissecting Hemingway, Conrad, or the sonnets and plays of Shakespeare.

But Literature does not have to be boring, or stuffy, or ‘only for the bright kids’. It is for everyone.

 

Literature opens up new worlds to children. It teaches them about people and places, both real and imaginary. It teaches them to empathise, feel and explore emotions. It teaches them values and what it is to be human.

 

Literature can be used to illustrate the many forms writing can take—personal narrative, exposition, poetry, fantasy, and so on. Hence, it is greatly encouraged for a child to read widely to gain that exposure.

 

Literature provides children with a variety of narrative structures that can help them become better writers. Children can borrow from these models as they shape their own pieces, adapting story structures to their own needs and imitating patterns other writers have created. Through such modelling and adaptation, children will start picking up writing styles, vocabulary and plot ideas, and begin developing their own writing styles.

 

Building a child’s interest in Literature can be done in a myriad of interesting ways: through reading aloud, dramatisation, choral reading, games, journal response, the TV/movie connection, and art & craft activities. The possibilities are endless.

 

Book Recommendations

RECOMMENDED CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

 

BEGINNING READERS (5-7 YEARS OLD)

Dad, Are You the Tooth Fairy? by Jason Alexander

The Dog Who Cried Wolf  by Keiko Kasza

The Giant Hug by Sandra Horning

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen

The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper

Lizette’s Green Sock by Catharina Valckx

Not Norman: A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett

 

YOUNG READERS (8-10 YEARS OLD)

The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters by Judy Sierra

Mallory vs. Max by Laurie Friedman

Minnie and Moo: The Case of the Missing Jelly Donut by Denys Cazet

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O’Malley

Police Dogs by Frances E. Ruffin and Wilma Melville

Walter the Giant Storyteller’s Giant Book of Giant Stories by Walter M. Mayes

Walter, the Story of a Rat by Barbara Wersba

 

ADVANCED READERS (11-13 YEARS OLD)

Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart

Clarice Bean Spells Trouble by Lauren Child

Dale Earnhardt, Jr: Born to Race by Ken Garfield

Molly Moon’s Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure by Georgia Byng

The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow by Kaye Umansky

Spy Force Mission: In Search of the Time and Space Machine by Deborah Abela

Three of Diamonds: Three Diamond Brothers Mysteries by Anthony Horowitz

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: Comma Usage

COMMA USAGE

 

  • Using commas with appositive phrases – An appositive phrase is a noun phrase that identifies or adds detail about the noun right next to it.

Incorrect: Mr Khoo, who is a professional magician performed at my sister’s birthday party.

Correct: Mr Khoo, who is a professional magician, performed at my sister’s birthday party.

Incorrect: Mr Khoo, a professional magician is well known in Singapore.

Correct: Mr Khoo, a professional magician, is well known in Singapore.

 

  • Use commas, not colons, when punctuating dialogue

Incorrect: Before doing his trick, Mr Khoo said: “Hey, presto!”

Correct: Before doing his trick, Mr Khoo said, “Hey, presto!”

 

 

Smarter Than a LiteracyPlus Student

P6 MATHS

Weiyang started a savings plan by putting 2 coins in a money box every day.  Each coin was either a 20¢ or 50¢ coin. His mother put in a $1 coin in the box every 7 days. The total value of the coins after 182 days was $133.90.

(a)  How many coins were there altogether?

(b)  How many of the coins were 50¢ coins?

For the answer, click here.

 

P6 WRITING

Can you figure out what’s wrong with the Lesson Learnt Story Ending below? Many pupils are guilty of this mistake!

After nearly being bitten by the venomous viper, I learnt that I should be careful of snakes.

For the answer, click here.

 

P6 READING COMPREHENSION

What is the main idea of the passage below?

The tide was slowly rising, and the wet border it left on the shore inched further inland with every crashing wave. At first, the advance was gentle, and the water spilled a safe distance away from the sandcastle. But soon, the waves grew bigger and more urgent. They clawed their way closer and closer, taunting the hapless edifice with a spray of salty sneers. Once the water caught hold of the most vulnerable tower, there was no turning back. The sea came in, and the poor sandcastle crumbled away.

For the answer, click here.

LiteracyPlus Tidbits: Short Stories

THE VALUE OF SHORT STORIES

 

Short stories incorporate many basic literary elements.

Main character, setting, conflict, plot, symbols and theme are examples of story elements which appear not only in novels and chapter books, but also in short stories. However, determining these elements in a short story takes less time, for the reading experience is shorter.

 

Input and feedback are immediate.

As a parent, your child’s questions about and reactions to the short story can be dealt with on the spot because of the length of the story. You can immediately assess your child’s oral reading and literary, discussion and comprehension skills.

 

The short story form gives children a realistic writing model.

By sharing and analysing language and literary elements as they appear in short stories, children can find examples which they can use as models for their own compositions.

 

Collections worth collecting…

The short story genre can include fairy tales, folktales, fables and even picture books. Famous traditional authors include Aesop, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. For Upper Primary pupils, Newbery Award-winner Avi has two well-received collections: Strange Happenings: Five Tales of Transformation and Best Shorts: Favorite Short Stories for Sharing selected by Avi with Carolyn Shute. As Katherine Paterson writes in her afterward, “Do read these stories with your family, your friends or your classmates. Try reading one aloud, your ears catching details that your eyes skipped over.”

 

Book Recommendations

RECOMMENDED CHILDREN’S LITERATURE

 

Title: Little Brown Bear Won’t Go to School

Author: Jane Dyer

Range: Ages 3 – 7

Synopsis: What’s the point of attending school? Little Brown Bear decides to forego an education and go to work like his Mama and Papa, but none of his jobs pan out. No one at the diner can read the orders he takes, his construction work doesn’t hold together, he gets tangled in a scarf he tries to knit, and the buzz cut he gives a lion makes the beast roar his displeasure! Now he knows why he needs to go to school – he’s got a lot to learn! Dyer’s sunny water colours are filled with lush detail and subtle humour. Kids will love exploring every illustration.

 

Title: Niagara Falls, or Does it?

Author: Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver

Range: Ages 8 -12

Synopsis: Hank Zipzer’s journals, “The Mostly True Confessions of the World’s Best Underachiever,” chronicle how a smart, well-intentioned, wise-cracking fourth grader survives his worst enemy – himself. Everything is a challenge for Hank, from punctuality to punctuation. In this first book of the series, Hank missteps on the very first day of school. The first-person perspective brings Hank sharply into focus. He’s a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of kid. The text reflects his cheeky approach to life and the dialogue rings true. Hank’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but his honesty and self-deprecating attitude will garner him hero status and lots of fans that identify with him.

 

Title: The Cheat

Author: Amy Goldman Koss

Range: Ages 10 – 14

Synopsis: A cheating scandal embroils an eighth-grade class after the class geek tries to impress the beauty queen by giving her the answers to a geography exam before the test. When the popular clique shares the inside information, the test results play havoc with the lives of everyone involved. Dramatically revealed in alternating first-person accounts, this inside look at middle-grade mores packs a powerful punch because the six students divulge all the conscience-wracking details. Told with irreverence and humour, it is an adolescent exposé that explores the values of trust and honour and the repercussions of deceit. Integrity may be deemed a cliché by some teens, but it is obvious from the fallout of this experience that cheating is not worth the self-destruction it inevitably causes.

Source: Reading Today’s “Children’s Book Review” by Lynne T. Burke

 

LiteracyPlus Tips: English Usage

ENGLISH USAGE

 

  • When do you use hyphens in numbers?

Incorrect: There are three-hundred-sixty-five days in a year.

Correct: There are three hundred sixty-five days in a year.

Use a hyphen when writing out the numbers twenty-one to ninety-nine in words. Do not use hyphens for other numbers.

 

Incorrect: France has a 35 hour working week.

Correct: France has a 35-hour working week.

Incorrect: The ten year old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Correct: The ten-year-old boy wanted to become an archaeologist.

Use hyphens only when the number functions as an adjective phrase.

 

  • it’s OR its?

Incorrect: The dog lost it’s bone.

Correct: The dog lost its bone.

Incorrect: Its under the chair.

Correct: It’s (it is) under the chair.

The confusion between it’s and its occurs because ‘s indicates possession, so English speakers naturally want to use it’s to mean ‘something belonging to it’. But it’s is only used when it’s a contraction of ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. Otherwise, it’s always its.

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