Latest news and updates for our Kuala Lumpur Young Learner parents - April 2016

Seniors Travel Blog competition

Students from our teen classes here in Kuala Lumpur recently competed in our Travel Blog writing competition.  Here our first prize winner, Adam Haye, receives his much deserved prize.  Adam wrote a blog with outstanding travel advice based on his recent trip to Seoul with his family.  Many congratu

Students from our teen classes here in Kuala Lumpur recently competed in our Travel Blog writing competition.

Here our first prize winner, Adam Haye, receives his much deserved prize. Adam wrote a blog with outstanding travel advice based on his recent trip to Seoul with his family. Many congratulations to Adam and all our winners on their amazing entries!

Seniors Photography competition

After the success of the senior travel blog writing competition, we’re introducing a photography competition this term.

Students need to upload a photograph that they’ve taken which fits into the theme of ‘Why I love my country.’ They must then write a caption and a short explanation of why they love that place as well as how they think their photo captures its greatness.  Closing date: 29 May 2016. For more information, students can speak to their class teacher.

Autism awareness month

The start of April marked the start of Autism Awareness month! The goal is to raise awareness and teach people about autism spectrum disorders, and the difficulties and challenges that people with autism face. 

The official image has come to be a puzzle piece. This puzzle piece represents the complexity of autism as well as representing the diversity of each individual who is affected by autism. In class this term, all teachers did a lesson about autism. Classes created puzzles with information about autism, ideas on how to help others and some even wrote poems! Thank you to all the parents who have contributed and been wearing a blue ribbon!

Special event talk for Autism Awareness Month

The British Council would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Ms. Joyce Lim, who came on Saturday to our KL centre, to give a talk about the rewards and challenges of bringing up children who are autistic or who have learning needs that are different. She gave such an inspiring and moving talk about the difficulties that her family has faced, and everything that they have achieved, that several people present were moved almost to tears!  It means so much to meet people like Ms Joyce in terms of helping us to be better aware of these issues, and also for us to understand what support we can offer. 

Ms. Lim’s son Clarence Kang also played several songs on the keyboard for us, including one written by his mother, who also sang: Hold my Hand. It was quite simply a beautiful and amazing performance.

Primary Plus online portal

Just a reminder that the Primary Plus online portal is now live and waiting for you to log in! Teachers send their weekly updates via the portal as well as attaching worksheets and important information. By logging on to the portal you can also access information about what’s coming up in the term as well as track your child’s progress on the online activities. You should have all been given your individual log in details – in case you’re unsure of how to use it, follow the link below to watch a video showing you how: Click here.

Parent workshops

This term, the theme of our parents' workshop is Developing resilient learners and is appropriate for parents with children of all ages. Workshops take place in room 17 from 1:20-2:00 and space is limited so we recommend parents arrive on time to get a seat. There will also be a film showing in room 18 for children to watch while parents attend the talk.

The first parent workshop, which will be in week 4 (23 and 24 April 2016) is on the topic of Becoming an independent learner. The workshop will focus on why it is important for children to develop independence in their learning, how this can help them achieve their best, and how parents can support their children to develop independence.

The second workshop, in week 8 (28 and 29 May 2016) will be on the topic of Developing a growth mindset. In this workshop we will explore what a growth mindset is, how it can help children in their studies and personal lives, and how teachers can support development of a growth mindset.

Phonics for beginners workshop summary

The last parent workshop introduced parents to phonics and why they are important. Many parents were interested to hear that even though English has only 26 letters, there are 44 sounds in the English language. This can make reading and writing in English very difficult for Malaysian children to learn, because each letter in Malay has only one sound. Children who have learned to read and write in Chinese can also find English hard, as Chinese has a very different sound-symbol relationship to English.

In fact, English can be one of the most difficult alphabetic languages for children to learn to read and write in. And because of this, children who have had no difficulty in learning to read and write in their first language may require more support in English. This is very important for parents and teachers to understand, as children can become discouraged if learning in English is not as easy as learning in their first language.

While English is not a completely phonetic language, research shows that all children start reading by trying to break down words into sounds and parts before they can read the whole word. As children read more and more, familiar words enter into long term memory and they don’t need to break down the words into sounds any more. Research has showed that all words go through this process, even if they are not phonetic (for example their, the, I). Children who learn to read easily may seem like they can read the whole word without breaking it into sounds, but they have gone through this process, just very quickly. When children have problems, it may be because they don’t know how to break down words or they might find all of the letter-sound relationships in English confusing.

So while English can be a confusing language, it is important for all children to be confident in phonics. In the British Council, we take a principled approach to teaching phonics. We start by teaching simple sound letter relationships (one sound to one letter), before moving on to more complicated digraphs (for example ai, ei, or). We then look at alternate spellings for some sounds (for example ai as in pain, eigh as in eight). Throughout this process of learning sounds, we encourage children to learn how to put sounds together to make words (blend) and how to break words into sounds to guess their spelling (segmenting). Our approach is loosely based on the Jolly Phonics programme and more information about phonics can be found on their website, including examples of the sounds letters make.

Best tips for helping your child with their homework

  • Build routines and set goals together.
  • Be encouraging. Homework helps your child review and helps the teacher identify what your child has learned. It’s okay if they don’t get it all correct, or if they can’t do it all.
  • Let the teacher see their mistakes.
  • Help them to self-correct. If you see a mistake, ask your child questions for example – are you sure this is correct? Is that word missing something

And finally, did you know that...

  • English is the third most commonly spoken language in the world after Mandarin and Spanish.
  • Most English spelling and grammar rules follow the rules set out in Dr Johnson’s Dictionary, which was published in 1755.
  • One new word is added to the English language approximately every two hours!