Online English Resources

PSLE English Oral Tips: Reading Aloud

by | May 30, 2023 | 2 comments

Introduction | PSLE English Oral Tips

 

Oral communication skills are essential for students as these skills empower them to express their ideas accurately, fluently and appropriately. Speaking skill is one of the building blocks to language learning. Honing this skill will prepare them accordingly to face the world as a competent speaker in the English language. The preparations towards the English PSLE Oral Examinations set out to develop these very skills needed for students to communicate effectively. This article places focus on the reading aloud component of the examination. Firstly, it highlights the common struggles students face in the examinations. Secondly, it dives into some strategies to tackle these struggles.

 

1. What does the English PSLE Oral assess? | PSLE English Oral Tips

 

The PSLE Oral Examination makes up 15% of the entire PSLE English Paper. It comprises two sections: Reading aloud (10 marks) and Stimulus-based conversation (20 marks). Let’s take a look at what each component assesses.

 

Candidates are assessed on their ability to.. Remarks

Reading aloud

(10 marks)

  • pronounce and articulate words clearly.
  • read fluently with appropriate expression and rhythm.

Candidates are given 5 minutes of preparation time right before the examination.

During this time, they read the reading passage and study the visual stimulus given to them.

Stimulus-based conversation

(20 marks)

  • give a personal response to a visual stimulus and engage in a conversation on a relevant topic.

 

Adapted from Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB)

 

How well could your child perform in the examinations based on this set of criteria? The following is a breakdown of the aforementioned assessment points:

 

Assessment points Explanation
Reading aloud Pronounce and articulate words clearly.

The examiner looks for:

  • the enunciation of initial sounds, middle sounds, end sounds
  • Pronouncing most (if not all) the words correctly
  • E.g. ‘the’, ‘those’, ‘with’, ‘books
Read fluently Speech that flows smoothly: normal, natural speech characterised by appropriate intonation, pauses, stress.
Read with expression Tone of voice: higher voice when excited, lower voice when upset
Read with rhythm Regular movement or beat; a good rhythm consists, among other things, a combination of proper stressed and unstressed parts of words.
Stimulus-based conversation Give a personal response to a visual stimulus and engage in a conversation on a relevant topic.
  • Give appropriate answers to examiner’s questions
  • Articulate opinions clearly by demonstrating a clear line of thoughts
  • Elaborating coherently

 

 

2. Common struggles students face in Reading Aloud | PSLE English Oral Tips

 

Common Weaknesses
Reading Aloud
  • Not enunciating initial sounds ‘th’, and end sounds ‘ft’, ‘d’, ‘s’
  • Not elongating long vowels e.g. ‘meet’, ‘school’
  • Not pausing at appropriate junctures
  • Not putting stress on words
  • Not projecting voice

 

 

3. Strategies to deal with these struggles | PSLE English Oral Tips

 

3.1 Practise pronunciation

 

3.1.1 Why do many students struggle with pronunciation?

 

Children in the Singapore context are exposed to two languages. As a result, they speak and/or comprehend two languages – English and their mother tongue. This, in turn, causes Singaporeans to develop a local accent that is quite distinctive and unquestionably different from the native American or British English accent.

Another reason that underlies this unfolded local accent is the struggle to consistently enunciate the sounds present in the English language that are absent in our mother tongue e.g.

 

Phonetic Symbol Examples of words with the sound
/ð/ other
/θ/ three
/iː/ seen

 

 

3.1.2 Practise pronunciation 

 

Pronouncing words in English is not as instinctive for Singaporeans as it is for an English native speaker. Therefore, students need to put in extra effort to score in the Reading Aloud section.

 

Tongue twisters

One way to practise pronunciation is by reading some tongue twisters.

The example below is a good sentence to help students practise the long vowel /iː/ (pronounced ‘eee’).

I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit.

You may refer to this collection of tongue twisters for more practice on other sounds.

 

Do not gloss over common words

It is also good practice to revisit the pronunciation of everyday words such as ‘the’, ‘with’, ‘father’, ‘school’. Examiners may scrutinise every word students read, down to the plural marker ‘s’ i.e. the /s/ sound at the end of some words. So students should try their best to nail the pronunciation of most words, if not all, in the reading passage! With sufficient practice, the Reading Aloud component becomes an ‘easy score’.

 

Habitualise watching local news programmes

“What about difficult or unfamiliar words in a reading passage on the day of examinations? How should my child deal with them?”

To tackle this possibility, expose your child to as much vocabulary as possible by listening. One way is to frequently sit down with them and watch a local English news programme together. This helps accomplish these:

  1. Learn to pronounce (sometimes difficult) words in the English language; and
  2. Keep abreast of current affairs (with parental guidance, of course).

 

3.2 Pacing

 

Pace refers to the speed at which someone is talking, or in this case, reading. Reading too fast is detrimental to the overall performance of one’s reading. Glossing over proper pronunciation and failing to convey the text with appropriate pauses will not impress any examiner!

Sit your child down and have him practise reading some texts while you listen. He should be pausing at commas and pausing slightly longer at full stops and between paragraphs.

On the other hand, reading too slowly is also not desirable. If your child grapples with pronunciation, he will most likely be reading at a slow pace with lack of smooth momentum. Therefore, he should work on reading fluently first through practice exposure to proper pronunciation of words in English. Refer to ‘Habitualise watching local news programmes’ under point 3.1.2.

 

3.3 Stress words accordingly

 

Stress refers to the emphasis placed on a word to make it stand out. Generally, the words that are stressed on are adjectives, verbs and adverbs. Let’s see what effect proper stress has on one’s reading. Try reading out loud the following out with emphasis on the words in bold.

The cheeky children were up on the sofa screaming and bouncing happily. Next, they leapt down and galloped through to the breakfast room energetically.

Do you notice how this text is brought to life? It helps listeners paint a picture about what is going on through the stress placed on the words describing the actions, and the doers of the actions.

Practise highlighting the adjectives, verbs and adverbs in reading passages as practice at home. Then, practise applying stress on those words. Over time, your child can develop the competence to read any reading passages with expression confidently.

 

3.4 Adopt good body posture

 

A good posture reflects confidence and can positively impact students’ delivery. Your child should be sitting up straight. Have your child try this mental image for size:

“Imagine your head is a balloon floating, and your upper body is the string. The same way the balloon is directly positioned above its string, your head should be upright and directly sitting above your body.”

 

3.5 Project voice

 

What is the point of being able to read well if the examiner cannot hear your child well? Many students, due to nerves, forget to project their voice. It is very difficult for examiners to assess what they cannot hear well. In such circumstances, we should think the examiner would not award the candidate with the best grade. That is just months of sheer hard work and talent going down the drain!

To avoid this, include voice projection in your child’s home practices. Additionally, do keep in mind that behind every well-projected voice is a child glowing with confidence. Therefore, you may remind your child:

  1. Take a deep breath before reading.
  2. The examiner wants to help you score. No examiner wants to see you fail.

 

3.6 Practise reading to an experienced teacher

 

Effort and perseverance in practising at home go a long way. However, have you considered having an experienced examiner listen to your child’s reading? Obtaining constructive feedback from individuals who are well versed in the field gives your child the nudge in the right direction towards reading exceptionally well. Our workshops, conducted by experienced MOE-certified teachers, including PSLE oral examiners, may be that missing piece your child needs to score in their oral exams.

 

3.7 Use checklists or frameworks to help your child

 

To ensure that your child is well prepared, the use of checklists or frameworks can be highly beneficial. Introduce your child to a structured reading framework that guides them through the process of reading aloud.

 

3.7.1 Reading Aloud framework – P3EEF

 

At Learning Gems, we use the P3EEF framework:

P3 – Pronunciation, Punctuation & Pace
E – Enunciation
E – Expression
F – Fluency

We teach our students the P3EEF framework explicitly and get them to apply it in their reading. Our students have found the framework to be a simple yet effective way in helping them achieve mastery in reading.

Here is a review left by one of our P6 students, Melissa. Melissa attended our online Oral Booster Workshop to prepare for her PSLE English Oral Exam.

At first, I was struggling with pronouncing a lot of commonly mispronounced words. What more was, I did not even know I was pronouncing them wrongly. The teacher was very patient and guided me, walking me out of my comfort zone. I learnt how to read more expressively and how to plan my stimulus based conversation. I enjoyed how the teacher was gentle instead of scolding us. This made me enjoy and learn more from the lesson. I think Learning Gems is a good place to improve my English as the methods taught are simple yet easy to remember and useful too. I would recommend Learning Gems to my friends as I think they will be able to benefit from it too.

 

Conclusion | PSLE English Oral Tips

 

This article covers the common weaknesses students demonstrate in the English PSLE Oral Examinations, particularly Reading Aloud. It also details some strategies you can adopt to cope with similar struggles your child might be facing. It ultimately boils down to your child’s preparatory work leading to the day of the examinations and his ability to manage his nerves. Having said this, with proper guidance and perseverance through practices, you might see your child flourishing into a more confident and effective reader!

If you need further support and guidance, enrol in our online Oral Booster Workshops!

Learning Gems is a premium tuition centre that provides quality online English tuition classes to PSLE and G3 / GCE ‘O’ Level students in Singapore. Our teachers are well-versed with the latest MOE syllabus and have taught at various schools in Singapore. Be it the primary or secondary level, we possess the relevant experience and are fully qualified to help your child.

2 Comments
  1. Fiona

    Interested in psle oral class

    Reply
  2. Sheryl

    Any psle oral reading class (online) available? Thanks

    Reply
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