Winners of the 2021 Inspiring Teacher of English Award

Congratulatory Speech by Dr Maliki Osman,

Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Education and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs

Press Release for the Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2021

ITEA 2021 - Teaching Award Category

Primary School Category

Ms Chern Shihui, Charissa

CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity

"I believe that my role in the English Language classroom is to inspire and cultivate in my students a deeper appreciation for the language and how it can be used effectively in our daily lives.

Language is, after all, a means for us to communicate our ideas, and share our thoughts and feelings with others. Through the use of dramatisation, storytelling and discussions of personal experiences, my students are able to relate to the themes in the texts they read and listen to, develop perspective-taking skills, and develop empathy for others who are different from them. In the process, they develop the ability to use the language to communicate and interact meaningfully with others – this is when English comes alive for my students!

One experience that I will always remember is when my students created their own skits on fractured fairy tales. They wrote the storyboard and the script, rehearsed, and finally presented their own masterpieces to their classmates. By providing my students with this opportunity, I saw them take ownership of their learning and writing. The sparkle of enthusiasm in their eyes, and the passion and confidence they exuded while telling their stories touched me. These bore testament to the joy my students found in learning and using the language."

Mrs Juliana Natalia Lee Osman

Edgefield Primary School

"My role as an English Language teacher is to guide my students to discover the richness of the language and how to use it to communicate their ideas and thoughts effectively. I aim to nurture their love and appreciation for the language through designing a variety of meaningful learning experiences for them. I value the learning process and focus on promoting critical thinking, effort, curiosity, and creativity. In that process, I see my role less as providing answers but encouraging my students to ask important questions.

It gives me joy to guide my students through analysing and responding to authentic scenarios, learning through hands-on activities, and participating in purposeful classroom discussions. I model the behaviour I wish to see in my students by communicating fluently and accurately and demonstrating a genuine interest in understanding and respecting others’ perspectives. As I witness their enthusiasm and attempts to use novel ways to demonstrate what they have learnt, I am motivated to continue to enrich their learning experiences.

My most interesting experience to date involves bringing a character in a book to life. Much to my students’ amusement, I dressed up as Miss Trunchbull from Matilda and stayed in character throughout the Book Character Day that my school had organised. It was heartening to see how a simple enactment sparked great interest in Roald Dahl’s stories and made learning memorable for my students as they engaged in a follow-up literature programme and discussion on the differences between the protagonists and antagonists in the story."

Secondary School Category

Mr Brian Lim

Bukit Panjang Government High School

“I believe that for students to attain mastery of English, they must first be convinced of how vital it, or any language, is to life. In my teaching of the English Language and Literature, I invite students to think about how language influences every facet of life. It has the power to affect the world around us, and it also frames our perspectives of the world, giving us the ability to shape our thoughts and how we relate to others.

It is a rewarding experience for me whenever students find their own voice and when they develop a love for the spoken and written word. I particularly enjoy helping my students to better understand themselves and others through the study of English Language and Literature.

As an English Language teacher, I have learned a lot about my students through their writing, especially those who speak up less often in class. Some have revealed remarkable accounts of their passions and struggles. These have given me even more opportunities to encourage them to write, and I have been greatly encouraged by what these young minds have managed to accomplish.”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Mr Desmond Chia Han Chin

National Junior College

“I believe that the study of General Paper (GP) enhances students’ creativity of thought and cogency in writing. GP enables my students to rediscover the world from multiple perspectives and imbues a strong sense of curiosity in them. The most rewarding experience for me is to observe my students, even the normally reserved ones, being willing to have their cognitive dexterity stretched when they participate in Socratic Seminars and thinking routines. I notice that they formulate far more persuasive assertions and speak with stronger conviction.

The greatest fulfilment I have as a teacher of GP is knowing that my students confidently interpolate felicitous expressions into their daily conversations and become increasingly more competent in their writing. The immense satisfaction of reading particularly compelling scripts is why I enjoy teaching GP. It aligns with my desire to inspire intellectual curiosity and mould critical thinkers. Witnessing the growth of my students truly motivates me to find meaning in my role as a GP teacher.”

ITEA 2021 - Leadership Award Category

Primary School Category

Ms Vikneswari Sukumaran

Yuhua Primary School

“My teaching philosophy stems from the belief that all children have an innate love of learning. My role as an educator is to equip them with the skill sets to become self-directed and lifelong learners who actively construct knowledge beyond the walls of the classroom. As an English Language teacher, I believe in empowering my students by creating opportunities for them to learn to communicate effectively and confidently in a fast-changing world.

To adequately prepare our students for an increasingly complex future, I collaborate with my teachers to integrate current affairs seamlessly into our school-based English Language instructional programme. We provide our students with many opportunities to read with discernment a variety of materials and engage in meaningful discussions during which they critically analyse what they read. It is also important to explicitly teach our students how to use language appropriately and effectively to convey their intended meanings to different audiences in a variety of contexts.

As a teacher leader, I believe in developing a common vision with my teachers and working together with them to achieve the vision of positively impacting our students and their learning of the language.”

Secondary School Category

Ms Yap Ying Hui Andrea

Temasek Secondary School

“Language teaching is not solely about building the students’ proficiency and skills in listening, reading, viewing, speaking, writing, and representing. I believe that, important as these are, my role as an English Language teacher is also to enable my students to find their voice. I aim to guide them to develop and articulate their opinions purposefully and confidently, and to be unafraid to question and challenge ideas. In doing so, I wish to bring about a shift in their mindset, to go beyond the pursuit of grades. Hence, building relationships and engaging in verbal sparring with my students invigorate me greatly.

There was a particularly interesting experience when my students had to sequence different manifestations of ‘Ok’ that people use in texting according to the levels of friendliness, such as ‘Ok.', 'Ok’, ‘Ok!', 'Ok!!!’, and ‘Oh ok’. The different sequences that each group presented led to a rich discussion on the variations in intent and interpretation of the messages they conveyed.

As a leader, I see myself as a bridge between policy and curriculum intent, and its enactment in schools. To be this bridge, it is crucial to maintain open channels of communication and develop a better understanding of my teachers’ concerns. I can then think of ways to guide their professional learning that will help us to grow as a department.”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Mr Lester Ian Lim Choong Siang

Dunman High School

“My former English Language teacher, Mr Joseph Low, was and still is my inspiration. He came into every lesson with a spring in his step, eager to teach. I knew firmly that I wanted to be a teacher of English Language – and more importantly – to help others love and understand the intricacies of the language. This has been my guiding principle in my teaching journey, be it going with my students on a walking trail before they embarked on the writing of descriptive texts, or more recently, framing the General Paper programme with the thrust of “GP is Life”.

As the leader of my department, I am grateful that I have the latitude to ideate how to help our students to enjoy what they learn in the English Language and the General Paper. I see so much potential to build relational and other life skills, to develop sensitivity to issues concerning language, and to hone skilful analysts and producers of texts.

I love to see my students finding confidence and I delight in their writing. Commenting on my students’ work with the words “This is a tour de force” brings me great joy. What Mr Low was to me, I hope to be to my students.”