If a mirror provides a reflection of our appearance, our learners' performance in 1119/2 in the SPM Trial Examination 2019 offers opportunities to engage in reflection of our own teaching. The ways certain questions in Paper 2 are answered, if we examine carefully, should promise a couple of significant revelations about our strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, it is crucial for ESL/EFL teachers to be open-minded to engage in self-discovery especially our own flaws so that improvements can be achieved in future.
No doubt, I am still learning and exploring but based on my experiences teaching Form 5 for 26 years, these are some common issues when we examine our learners' answers in 1119/2.
CASE 1: SECTION A (TEXT AND GRAPHICS)
Issue: Average learners score roughly 6-8/15 marks. They have more errors in Rational Cloze.
Have I really tried to ENRICH THEIR VOCABULARY IN A SYSTEMATIC WAY? If yes, what system/approach/concept have I applied and how frequent? How many practices of Rational Cloze have I done each month? Have I offered my learners some PRACTICAL AND EFFECTIVE TIPS to guide them in Rational Cloze?
CASE 2: SECTION C (SUMMARY)
Issue: Potential B+ and A- candidates simply COPY exactly most of the summary content points. They do not know how to paraphrase.
Have I taught them EFFECTIVELY on ways to paraphrase the summary points? Have I given SAFE AND PRACTICAL TECHNIQUES to rewrite summary points using own words? Have I demonstrated CLEARLY AND REPEATEDLY how to write summary points in own words?
CASE 3: SECTION C (SUMMARY)
Issue: Potential A+ and A candidates still include irrelevant parts in their summary.
Have I given them CLEAR tips how to avoid including irrelevant parts in the summary? Have I shared with them the MOST IMPORTANT TIP to ensure irrelevant parts are excluded from summary?
CASE 4: SECTION D (POEM)
Issue: Average learners fail to answer opinion-based question (2 marks).
How many practices have I given to my average learners to answer this opinion-based question? How FREQUENT have I personally COACHED my average learners either individually, in pairs or small groups?
CASE 5: SECTION D (NOVEL)
Issue: Potential B+ and A- candidates only give a satisfactory response for the novel question (details are not written sufficiently, opinions are not offered, answers are not arranged well, the second requirement is not fulfilled well)
How many times have I really TESTED my learners to answer the novel question BEFORE the SPM Trial Examination? Have I given and EXAMINED enough EXCELLENT sample responses? Have I COACHED THEM EFFECTIVELY on how to fulfill all the requirements in the question?
We have to admit, the flaws portrayed by our learners in their answer in a way reflect our own teaching. If we give little emphasis on paraphrasing, surely our learners will simply copy their summary points from the text. If we only have limited practices to answer novel questions in class, then we should not be surprised when most of our learners only manage to write their responses fairly satisfactorily. In short, their quality of responses/answers mirror our quality of teaching. I know learners' attitude, language proficiency and attendance are contributing factors too but we cannot simply put the blame 100% on them. We are partly responsible for their performance in examinations. The more we critically reflect on their answers/ responses, the more we will discover about our own teaching especially our own flaws! Therefore, let us invest our time and commitment .....reflect and discover more!!!