The PSLE English paper has an oral examination part that is divided into two parts: a stimulus-based conversation part and a reading aloud part. This oral examination my sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be: all your child needs is to be properly prepared for the exam.
Before changes were made to the PSLE English paper in 2015, the oral examination seemed to be a breeze, with many pupils passing the oral exam with flying colours. After the changes, the exam became something of a challenge to pupils, and these tips are provided to help them get over their difficulties with the PSLE English oral examination.
Stop Thinking Too Much
Don’t over think the examination: it’s no big deal. An oral examination isn’t an intense interrogative session involving a stern-looking examiner and your thoroughly-intimidated child. The PSLE English oral is simply a ten-minute test, during which your child is tested on their reading and answering skills. Since this exam is interactive and verbal, and not written, it is called an oral examination. There is nothing to fear in it. The examination is not as difficult as it may seem.
The first step to eliminating the mystery of the oral examination is to take a step back and realize that it is just someone talking to your child and them talking back. Simple, right? Taking this perspective will enable you to coach your child better on how to take the oral examination. As you help them prepare for the oral exam, continue to emphasize the fact that the oral exam is just a conversation with their examiner. Having the right frame of mind in an examination determines how well you pass it.
Practice your reading every chance you get. The oral examination will require your child to read aloud, and so you should help them practice. Reading aloud isn’t necessarily an art form, and it isn’t a race to the finish either.
Coach them on their reading, teaching your child to pace themselves and to mind their punctuations. A pause at a question mark sounds different from a pause at a full stop or a comma. Words that end in ‘t’ and ‘d’ and ‘s’ should be enunciated properly.
Reading out loud shouldn’t feel like a weird activity: make it fun for your children, pointing out sign posts when you are out and asking them to read them out; going into a restaurant and reading out the options in a menu; or reading out passages from your favourite stories together.
Practice Difficult Enunciation
There are definitely some words that a Primary 6 pupil won’t know or have in their vocabulary. Practice enunciating these words with them so that they will know how to pronounce them, and also look up the meanings of these new words in the dictionary. You can also use the context in which the word is used in a sentence to guess what it means, and you should teach your child to do this on their own as well.
Also, remind your child not to use internet language or other abbreviations during their oral examination.
Communication At Home
Having conversations at home also aids in the preparation process for taking the oral examination. However, you should keep it in mind that you are trying to make them understand the examination is not a complicated thing, so don’t replicate an examination kind of scene.
Keep it fun and interesting, without it even feeling like an exam or test. For example, you are in the mall shopping, and you see a box of cereal. You could begin by asking your child what the name on the cereal box is, and what they think the cereal could be made up of. Even ask them to write a short poem extolling the virtues of the cereal (but with simpler words). The request may even seem silly, and you all will have a good laugh over it, but your child will create the poem, and you could explain to them that the oral examination could take that form.
This will make them see that the oral examination is just a conversation, and this will make them more relaxed and boost their confidence about taking the exam.
Practice Eye Contact And Facial Expression
Make sure you practice eye contact and facial expressions with your child during your rehearsals. Let them understand that looking bored with the examination will show the examiner that they don’t really care for the exam, and this will affect their overall score. When talking with the examiner, maintain eye contact. Make sure that your child is able to express themselves through their body language and their emotions.
Adding some humour would also score points for them. However, do not prolong the mock exam: keep it at 30 minutes tops. The point is to make them feel like they are talking to a friend, not taking an actual exam.
Watch Your Tone of Voice
The tone is important in an oral examination. The way you sound when talking to someone can tell if you are bored, or rude, or polite. Educate your child on this, practising the proper tone of voice with them. Also, the tone in which you read sentences matters. The tone of a question is different from the tone for a direct command. An active voice statement sounds different from a passive voice statement. Teach them to the appropriate tone for a sentence with an exclamation mark attached to it.
Pause When You Need To
As said earlier, the examination is not a race to the finish. Tell your kids to pause when they need to pause, take deep breaths when they feel it is necessary, and remember that it is just a normal conversation with a parent or a friend. Pace yourself, and show them to use full stops as a way to take a break if they are feeling particularly nervous during the reading aspect of the examination.