Writing for writing’s sake

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Do you remember the days when the word “composition” could incite an immense sense of dread? Do you remember fussy essay guidelines cramping your style? Well, we do too, and though we may be way past those days, this upcoming event is probably great news for your kids.

This year, for the second time running, the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP) Young Writers’ Camp is back in Singapore! The BAWP is a joint project between the University of California at Berkeley and the Bay Area schools in California. Like last year, the Adam Khoo Learning Centre is partnering BAWP to co-host the camp especially for children from Primary 4 to Secondary 1.

The camp, which will be held from 28th November to 1st December, features a wide variety of exciting activities and programmes for 10-13 year olds.


The camp will once again be facilitated by BAWP teachers from San Francisco and other local trainers, led by Dr Cheah Yin Mee, creator of the English Mastery™ programme at Adam Khoo Learning Centre, who has also had more than thirty years experience teaching and working in the Singapore education system. We managed to have a chat with Dr. Cheah to find out more about the camp.

Activity-filled with a range of programmes

Over the four activity-filled days, students will be exposed to a whole range of programmes aimed to improve their language and writing skills. One of the many activities in the camp includes Freewrite, which allows the students to develop a “stream of consciousness” form of writing. “This helps students develop the fluency to put their ideas down on paper and to find their own writing voice,” Dr. Cheah states.

The students also take turns in the hot seat in Author’s Chair, where they are given a chance to share their stories and writing. Author’s Chair gives students the confidence to share and talk about their writing, and it also teaches them to better respect each other’s work.
“Students tend to read unmindfully; nobody knows what to look out for when they are reading extensively,” Dr Cheah says. As such, the camp also emphasizes the Reading-Writing Connection. With the help of mentor texts, students are better equipped with the understanding of how to efficiently use their reading to improve their writing at the same time.


Camp strategies

Unlike school, students therefore get a chance to learn not just the whats, but the hows of writing. The camp strategies will help develop writing skills, including and beyond those of vocabulary, grammar, sentence structures and style.

“There is a very functional and technical, pragmatic approach to teaching English in schools currently,” says Dr. Cheah. “In order to progress further, we need to not think of learning English as a language or a linguistic goal, but instead to view it as literacy.” This is exactly what the BAWP camp aims to achieve by inculcating in students a love for the language and motivating them to learn it themselves.

Changes in the PSLE paper

This also falls perfectly in step with the revisions that will be made to the PSLE English language paper, to be implemented in 2015. Along with this, and the changes recently made in the English syllabus, the MOE aims to “enable…students to communicate effectively and confidently in the globalised world” through a “systematic approach to teaching language skills, using…a variety of language resources to enable students to appreciate the language beyond the classroom.”

The camp will give your children an excellent head start in knowing what to expect in the revised course, how to find their feet, and how to deal with the new requirements of language learning. The unique style of the camp, however, differentiates it from a regular school day and also equips students with more than just basic writing skills.

 

Finding their own voice

In the course of the action-packed programme, students will therefore be able to look at writing not just as students, not just for assignments, not just as topics assigned by teachers, but as a form of self-expression. Students will therefore find their own voice, and be able to use writing as a form of catharsis, and a way of thinking. And through that, they will also be able to use writing in all aspects of their lives in future.

“As it is,” concludes Dr. Cheah, “education is a marathon. And at the end of the day, when we have at least broadened the perspectives of the students, we know we have really achieved something.”

Parents will enjoy $100 off when you enrol your children for the BAWP Young Writer’s Camp. For more information, please visit www.aklc.com

About Adam Khoo Learning Centre

Adam Khoo Learning Centre’s enrichment programmes use accelerated learning, multi-sensory teaching and whole brain integration to help students achieve top grades in English and Mathematics.

 

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