For those of you who are transitioning from Primary 6 to Secondary 1, you will be amazed at the wide gap in the Secondary 1 English syllabus.
The Secondary 1 English syllabus demands the following:
1) Maturity in Secondary 1 English writing
Secondary 1 English students will not be able to rely on the Flashback, Rising action and Falling action techniques in Secondary one.
There will have to be more content needed for Reflective, Descriptive, Personal Recounts essays and others which are Hybrid.
They will need to develop characters and plot outlines. The word count for Secondary 1 English essays will be higher.
Students should write about 250 – 300 words to maintain a good score.
2) Knowledge of news
Why is this needed?
When writing about the community or functions concerning what is going on around them, knowledge of the latest happenings in society will be a boost in writing Secondary 1 English essays.
3) A sound basic knowledge in vocabulary
Vocabulary phrases and idioms will be needed. More sophisticated use of words will ensure good grades. There is no other way than to practice phrases and words which can be used in writing such essays.
However, there are also components in the Secondary 1 English paper which will be completely new.
Students will have no prior knowledge of any of these and will have to quickly gain control in these areas before their May exams the same year.
There will also be Secondary 1 English common tests in March so there really isn’t much time to get down to mastering the techniques needed to do well in these areas.
To be really proficient in these new areas, students will need to familiarise themselves with the special strategies needed in these areas.
What are these new components in the Secondary 1 English Paper in question? They are:
4) Summary writing
This is a new area with high mark weightage. Summary writing can gain you 25 marks if you are careful.
Summary writing requires you to summarise certain paragraphs according to the question and rephrase them in your own words.
Editing and paraphrasing skills are needed to accomplish this according to examination standards.
Editing requires students to leave out unnecessary words or to rephrase the sentence into a shorter one. This will require some practice as vocabulary word management is needed in order to find corresponding words which will compress the sentence.
The meaning has to be intact and content should not be left out.
The main thrust of summary writing is to answer the question. Only needful points have to be used from the passage so the student will have to know what to leave out.
And all of this has to be written within 80 words as students will be penalised for ‘over-writing’.
Though all of this sounds like a lot to swallow, it is not as bad as it sounds. Constant practice with summary writing strategies taught by Wizpals will ensure that students can score consistently well in this area.
5) Situation writing
This is an area where students will be given an email, a report, speech, proposal etch to write.
The writing is not as demanding as it is in the Continuous writing paper, but points have to be delivered succinctly with careful relevance to the question.
There will usually be notes attached to the question or an illustration with information which has to be included in the writing.
This is more like a journalistic or an observation – based type of writing where factual information regarding ‘bulletin’ or ‘news’ topics should be delivered concisely.
6) Visual text
This is the last new component. An advertisement or banner with illustrations and captions will be given.
Though the marks are 5 in total, students need to infer the purpose and message in the illustration. They will have to correctly deduce what the picture is trying to signal or what the headlines really mean.
Grasp of content and inference is essential to do well in this paper. Once again, careful use of Wizpals’ strategies can earn students the marks they need.
For those transitioning to Secondary 1 or if you have just transitioned, do not despair.
All you need to do is to learn the correct skills needed and practise them regularly and you will be able to gain mastery in these areas in no time!