ITEA 2023 Banner 01

Winners of the 2023 Inspiring Teacher of English Award

Congratulatory Speech by Ms Liew Wei Li, 

Director-General of Education, Ministry of Education

Press Release for Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2023

ITEA 2023 - Teaching Award Category

Primary School Category

Ms Leena Priya Segaran

Xishan Primary School


“I believe that every child can learn effectively when appropriately supported. Hence, I seek to understand my students’ interests and learning needs and preferences so that I can differentiate my lessons accordingly. In so doing, I aspire to enable all my students to be confident communicators who can speak, write and represent ideas effectively. I also explore the use of new technologies and platforms to create learning experiences that offer my students opportunities and support to collaboratively build their understanding of English and its use. This is so that they can learn to communicate with greater clarity and empathy.

As digital natives, many of my students prefer watching videos to reading a wide range of books and materials. To cultivate in my students a love for reading, I introduced them to different book titles and set up a reading corner in the classroom. My practice of reading my favourite children’s stories to them has also inspired them to read more widely. It has been heartening to observe the transformation in my students’ attitudes towards reading. By empowering my students to enjoy reading, I have also seen how they are able to write more fluently and use the language more purposefully and effectively to express their ideas. It is a privilege to play a pivotal role in leading my students to learn English with such enthusiasm and to use the language more effectively.”

Secondary School Category

Mr James Koh Sze Ming

Raffles Institution


“As a teacher of Literature, I aim to help my students discover the significance of stories in their lives. We use stories to remember the past, to understand those who are different from us, and to make sense of the complex world we live in. It is important that my students understand how stories are constructed and circulated in society - so that they realise there are different ways of interpreting a story, and the study of Literature helps them better negotiate contesting interpretations.

To do this, students need to be deeply aware of the paradigm that they are working in when understanding a text. This is why I value students’ voices in my classroom and encourage my students to be aware of their own thinking processes. By providing opportunities for them to openly discuss why they think in a particular way, my students become more reflective about how they make sense of a variety of texts. Through this process, I hope that they will leave the classroom with a healthy intellectual curiosity, constantly and persistently examining how they arrive at their understanding of texts, of themselves and of the world.”

Mr Shawn Lim You Hao

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)


“I teach Literature to raise my students’ awareness of how experiences are constructed in texts and help us make sense of our reality. Reading critically involves the identification, examination and questioning of the profound influence that texts or other narratives have in shaping our lived realities. I seek to develop a critical disposition in my students by building on their personal responses in their exploration of texts. I hope to guide them to recognise how their responses reflect their own realities.

Thus, when students talk about how a rewatching of Star Wars was enriched by the themes they learnt in Romeo and Juliet or when a class chooses to sit with me during recess to discuss their responses to how popular media shapes the way they perceive the world, I observe with delight how my students are making sense of the world through critical lenses. Moments such as these motivate me to continue teaching.”

Ms Heng Siok Tian

Hwa Chong Institution

Siok Tian

“Every classroom lesson is an opportunity to live out a simple maxim: only connect. My priority is to enable students to see the application of Literature in the real world, where language is at work. I believe in creating positive memories with them. Hence, I vary my teaching approaches. I design puzzles and pop quizzes, gamify review and revision of what students have learnt, challenge them to convert a Shakespearean soliloquy to a rap, or present their responses to texts using visuals, music or a mime. Above all, my aim is to wean the students off total reliance on a tutor’s commentary or ‘model’ answers”.

I have been blessed with interesting experiences on my teaching journey. In 2021, a student handed me a card and told me that it was from her father. To my surprise, her father was a student I had taught in 1990! To find out that I have taught both father and daughter almost three decades apart was a surreal realisation. Another rewarding encounter was when a student wrote a novel (as a self-initiated project) recounting his memories as my student, and likening me to Edna from the movie, The Incredibles. These experiences transform bruises into blessings.”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Ms Yvonne Koh Feng Ying

Jurong Pioneer Junior College


“In my General Paper (GP) classroom, I view myself as a fellow explorer with my students. I believe it is crucial for us to jointly reflect on and learn from our experiences in the
classroom. Above all, it is vital for me to understand the learning needs of my students through these experiences.

Some students think that GP is a daunting subject. I strive to make it accessible by connecting what we learn in class to real-world experiences, and by incorporating games into my lessons. One example of a game I designed is the "Amazing Race". Students collaborate in groups to take photos of objects around them as part of their response to
given questions. When I meet my former students, they show me photos from past races. They tell me that they remember the connections they forged with one another and how they enjoyed their learning together. I am, therefore, reminded of this quote by Carl W. Buehner - ‘They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.’

For me, teaching is not just about imparting knowledge. It is about creating lasting memories and turning a subject that might seem daunting to some into an enjoyable and meaningful one.”

ITEA 2023 - Leadership Award Category

Secondary School Category

Ms Phay Ee Lyn

Assumption English School

Ee Lyn

“As Head of Department for English Language and Literature, I led in the conceptualisation and development of the school’s Applied Learning Programme, SPEAK, which gives
opportunities to all our students to enhance their oracy skills. The students learn to form and articulate their personal views and opinions about issues that they care about as teenagers. They find their voice as they complete a different task at each level of study and communicate their personal response to it with their schoolmates. Our students enjoy the agency and autonomy offered by such experiences in their secondary school years.

For example, our Secondary Three students take on the role of advocates for a global issue that they feel strongly about. Students deliver speeches to present their views in the canteen during recess or lunch breaks or in the hall during school assemblies. For many of them, it is their first public-speaking experience and the first time they have the chance to persuade the rest of the student body about a cause they are passionate about. It is a nerve-wrecking yet meaningful experience for many of the students as they stand in front of their peers to speak confidently and communicate their perspectives.

My colleagues and I also identify students who demonstrate a flair for communication and provide them with more opportunities to build on their talents, such as through being emcees for various school events or participation in oratorical competitions. As a leader, I hope to continue to inspire my fellow educators to believe that there is
potential for every child to flourish and to hold on to the faith that all students can and will excel in their own ways.”

Ms Tan Xiu Mei, Crescendra

Naval Base Secondary School


“My leadership philosophy is based on my beliefs as an educator - that every individual can learn and every student can be enabled to maximise their potential. I strongly believe in ‘Allyship’, as I am a partner and advocate for my teachers and students. I start by empathising with my students and teachers, followed by building them up and amplifying their strengths.

I love surprising my students – from setting up a courtroom in the classroom to teaching and learning about descriptive writing in the garden. I believe that language is alive and around us and must be appreciated at a level beyond functional use. There is one lesson that is particularly memorable for me. It took the form of a panel discussion on domestic worker abuse. My students took on the roles of different stakeholders and discussed ways to help and support the marginalised group of domestic workers. Preparing the lesson was an enriching experience for me as I looked up reports on domestic worker abuse. Enacting the lesson was as fulfilling for me as it was for my students. They had to have clear understanding of the issues, debate and agree on the solutions, and formulate their thoughts in writing. To me, this is not just about teaching English but values too.

I start with this mantra when I first meet a class of students and leave it as my parting message when they graduate: Language is a powerful tool. Use it not to hurt others, but to encourage, uplift, persuade and create positive change.”

Junior College and Centralised Institute Category

Ms Lim Hui Mei, Jan

National Junior College


“In addition to the joy I gain from teaching English, I learn how to become an empathetic and effective communicator. Just as I try to teach my students ‘proper expression’, my students also share with me their ‘teen lingo’ and its etymology, which gives me an insight into their perceptions and helps me understand them better. It greatly motivates me to be able to guide my students to articulate their ideas and see them light up when they are able to effectively express their thoughts. When my students can communicate in ways that others can understand, they feel empowered. This often gives them a boost in confidence, not just in their language use but also in their interactions with others.

One memorable classroom experience was getting my students to take turns to read aloud the short story, “Love is a Fallacy”. They thoroughly enjoyed it because of the humorous plot and the experience of a throwback to their lower primary school days when they read ‘big books’. Injecting fun and enjoyment into English lessons makes my students a lot more receptive towards learning the subject.”