2017 Year-End School Holiday Closure

Dear Students and Parents,

Please be informed that we will be closed for School Holidays from 18 December 2017 to 1 January 2018. All classes will be paused during this time and will resume 2 Jan 2018.

On behalf of the staff body, we would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Singapore: A unique case study

Singapore is a multicultural and multilingual nation with a unique approach to language. Although we have four main languages, English is the unifying lingua franca and is the language in which children are taught. In school, it is compulsory for students to also learn a mother tongue language. There are several reasons for this. After the war, schools were brought under government control who realised that a common language was needed to facilitate communication among the different cultural and dialect groups. Furthermore, not only does it help students connect with the culture and traditions of the language, it also helps them master the English language.

Their government’s belief in this benefits of multilingualism is seen in their own personal lived. The late Mr Lee Kwan Yew, who was born to English-speaking parents, motivated himself to learn Mandarin and Malay. His son, the current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also learnt Mandarin and Malay. During both their terms in office, they used to give their national day speeches in English, Malay and Mandarin.

Today, the range of languages spoken in Singapore has increased drastically. This is not all due to the diverse population in Singapore. In secondary school, students are given the opportunity to study a third language, such as Mandarin (for non-Chinese), Malay (for non-Malays), Indonesian (for non-Malays), Arabic, Japanese (only for Chinese), French or German. We have also increased the number of mother tongue languages deemed acceptable in lieu of the three main languages. The newly recognised mother tongue languages include Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam.

The improvements to Singapore’s language policy don’t just stop there. The way languages are taught and used are regularly revised so that students stay relevant. The government has also provided more funding for mother tongue initiatives. In 2011, the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism began. Its aim was to aid the Ministry of Education (MOE) in promoting the teaching and learning of the English language and the Mother Tongue languages.

Currently, foreign languages are taught outside of normal school curriculum. Every week, students commute to one of the two MOE Language Centre campuses. It’s a unique institution as it not only complements normal secondary and post-secondary education, it is also an MOE institution that focuses solely on teaching foreign languages. The MOELC also caters to different types of students. Namely, those who are learning a third language and those who are learning a foreign language as their mother tongue in lieu. The alumni of this school are poised to be powerful instruments and players in Singapore’s globalisation policy simply because they have widened their communication capabilities.

Agape School of Education understands the importance of learning another language. Our unique teaching approach incorporates language skills and culture to facilitate a better understanding of the language. Our curriculum is tailored to follow the MOELC curriculum and we adhere to their linguistic standards. This way, our students are always in sync with their school work and there is no gap in their learning process. Our small group sizes ensure the students get the quality time and interaction they need in class. We also offer private classes that are customisable to the individual student’s needs. Contact us today for more information!

Motivating for Learning

The education system has many schools of thought when it comes to learning. We have visual learners, students who prefer to listen to lectures and some who learn through experimentation. When learning a new language, teachers often have to brainstorm a variety of methods to help students learn – through videos, conversational activities, etc. Even with all these tools, a handful of students still struggle to keep up.

Motivation could be the key to unlocking their potential to learn. I know what you must be thinking; “After class preparation, I don’t have the time figure out how to motivate every student!”. Let’s start with the benefits of motivating your students.

What Motivating Does

Well done! Your student is enrolled in your class, which means they (or their parents) must be interested in learning. This enthusiasm, however, needs to be nurtured if it is to be sustained over the duration of the course. Motivation results in several things; individuals set goals for themselves, put in effort and persist in achieving these goals. Studies have shown that consistently motivated students generally perform well as they have a sense of responsibility for their own grades.

This makes conducting lessons a whole lot easier for the teacher because students come to class prepared and nobody has to play catch-up. Interactions in class are fruitful and enhance everyone’s learning.

So, what are the different kinds of motivation? External and internal factors are the general classifications that describe students’ learning stimuli. Being aware of these factors can help you prepare lesson material that triggers a positive response.
Let’s explore them in detail.

External motivation

Students who require external motivation require persuasion to carry out their task. For example, if your student joins your class because it helps them to secure an internship or if they desire a good grade to impress someone (their parents), they are motivated by external means. But this does not mean that they are not worth motivating. Instead, a teacher’s approach to motivating should be to help them to invest in their own learning. Speak to them about their goals for the course and help them set realistic yet high expectations for themselves. Including milestones within their long-term goals will help them keep track of their progress. Complement this with a system of detriments and rewards to keep them motivated. Creating competition and encouraging peer-to-peer learning will help these students to success.

Internal motivation

Individuals motivated by intrinsic means work on improving themselves because they enjoy it and want to track their own performance. For instance, one has a passion for learning Japanese because they like the challenge, and have a curiosity for the culture and the country’s linguistic history. These students require little motivation from their teachers as they are stimulated by discovery. Types of material that work for these students are case studies, research and reasoning. Providing constructive feedback on a regular basis, as well as, giving them control over their learning will sustain their interest in the long run.

Motivating for Learning – What Works?

An experienced teacher can tell you that there is no right or wrong approach to teaching. As such, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ model to motivate your students. Using a variety of teaching methods to suit both types of students will influence them to be better learners. But to find out what type of motivation a student needs requires the personal touch.

At Agape School of Education (ASE), we keep our classes small so our teachers can connect with their students on a personal level. This helps them tailor their lessons and teaching approaches to the individual student. Learning a new language is a beneficial way to help students understand their own mother tongue. At ASE, we combine the technical aspect of language with the cultural. This reinforces the love of the language and helps the student better grasp the language. Our goal is to impart knowledge and inspire passion in our students, and our coaching approach helps our students deal with the emotional aspect of learning a new language.

To find our more, click on the Video Presentation above, click here to download the Presentation in PDF format or contact us today to find out how we structure our classes for your success!

The Efficiency Principle

For many people, National Service (NS) is characterised as a time of tough physical work and character development. For two years, our Singapore men trade in their school uniforms for army greens to serve and protect our country. As most full-time national servicemen (NSFs) spend a significant portion of time in camp, whatever time they have in the evenings and on weekends should be spent in a prudent and efficient manner. One excellent way to utilise this time is to pick up a new language!

medium-Photo 2

Bryan Ho preparing to take the French international diploma (DELF)

Your NS period is a very good time to learn a new language because you can focus entirely on it. It is common for students to be wary of taking foreign languages in university because it has one of the heaviest workloads and it can be difficult to score in that subject, potentially messing up your GPA/CAP. Another common trend is for students to pick up the language and drop after a few semesters, which is a further waste of precious time. This is why the NS period is perfect! You exercise your body and your mind. By keeping your mind active, you also prevent yourself from losing touch with the ‘study’ mindset. This makes the transition after NS to further education or work easier.

Using this time to learn a new language is not just efficient, it has long-term benefits. Students who intend to go for a student exchange programme during university or who intend to attend an overseas university, gain an upper-hand if they speak the language. Why deny yourself a head start?

More and more NSFs are enrolling in part-time courses while serving their NS. They attend classes in the evenings when they book out of camp and also during the weekends. At Agape School of Education, the flexibility of our courses is crucial in helping you learn. Classes are tailored for the student and can be scheduled around book-out timings.

If you’re worried about your supervisors, don’t be! A survey recently showed that army supervisors were lenient and supportive of their NSF’s private studies, allowing them to leave on time to go for classes. It’s inevitable that you may need to miss a week of lessons from time to time because an NSF’s first priority is your service to your country. We understand this and our teachers can build a structured programme that will fit your needs.

It’s not necessary to put your studies and career on hold while you serve. In fact, it’s not recommended. Learning a new language or even keeping in touch with one you’ve already learnt will keep you from forgetting knowledge and skills! This will not only prepare you for the life awaiting after NS but also equip you with credentials that benefit your further education and future career. Be efficient with how you spend your time during your NS. Contact Agape School of Education to find out how we can help you develop, enhance and protect your skills.

Here are two examples of students who efficiently used their free time during their NS period to pick up a new language:

  1. Bryan Ho prepared for to take the French international diploma (DELF) at the B1 level while serving his NS. He passed with an excellent grade and later used his knowledge in French to enter a university in the United States.
  2. Derong Lin discovered his love for writing in French at Agape School of Education! While he was preparing to sit for the DELF examination at the B2 level, he wrote about his experience with the French language. His article can be found on our blog!

    Agape School of Education helped him develop skills that he later used during his tenure as a student in the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Thanks to his knowledge of the French language, Derong was also chosen by NUS for a 6-month internship in Paris, France.

Ushering in the new

In the spirit of the new year, we at Agape School of Education, have also launched our new, updated website! Although we have not forgotten the old, we understand that today, it is important to keep updating ourselves and our digital profile. As technology advances, websites are constantly evolving in terms of functionality, design and how user-friendly it is.

Here are some of the new features of the new site that you can look forward to!

  1. You can now book classes online
    Our new site is equipped with up-to-date information about our classes and with the click of a button, you can sign yourself up. Learning a new language has never been this easy!
  2. Create and monitor your account with ease
    Students can now create accounts to sign up for courses, track their progress and pay fees with the click of a button. Don’t let admin work hinder you from picking up a new language.
  3. A clean and updated design
    Our sleek new design was honed and perfected over many sleepless nights. Our aim was to create a beautiful yet, easy to manoeuvre site, with a focus on the language. After all, everything we do at Agape School of Education is because of our love and passion for languages and teaching.
  4. Optimised search for easy browsing
    Part of our new design is a dedicated page for each language and special programme offered by Agape School of Education. This way, all the information you need is situated in one place.
  5. Promotions and SkillsCredit information at your fingertips
    The first thing you see when you visit our site is the Skills Credit banner. We already offer several courses that are eligible for payment through SkillsCredit. However, we are working on bringing you a greater range of courses to choose from, because no one should be limited from learning. For a limited time, we also have discount coupons for courses available to first-time students.

Take some time today to explore our new website, read the testimonials and sign-up for a language course. Agape School of Education would like to take this opportunity to thank our tireless website designer, Trendy Tan, and our web developers, the Ninjas at One Spiffy, for all their hard work and determination to see this project to completion. While we are still working on the nitty-gritty details of the new website, we hope you like it as much as we do.

Playing to learn: Benefits of the playgroup

Humans are naturally creative, musical and artistic. Yet, our children today are spending less time physically playing, creating imaginary games, and interacting with others meaningfully. Many are becoming socially isolated because their leisure time is spent in front of a computer or television, or with a helper. Studies have shown that this affects their ability to empathise, read emotional language and, most importantly, communicate.

Language skills are essential to a child’s ability to communicate and develop. These skills enable children to engage with other people and learn from their surroundings and in the classroom. Furthermore, multilingualism is great for your child’s brain as there are major cognitive benefits to being able to speak two or more languages as a child. So how can parents achieve this? No, this is not something that can be taught. We simply need to give our children the opportunity to develop these abilities.

medium-girl-kids-training-school-159782As children, we use our voice and body language to express feelings, but they also serve important learning functions. For example, singing has many surprising benefits for children. Studies have shown that children with a strong sense of beat are more likely to read and listen well. Music stimulates all the senses, helping children recognise patterns and sequence, and promoting creativity, social interaction, self-esteem and memory. Songs can also be useful tools in the learning of vocabulary, not to mention their reflectivity of mother tongue culture. Similarly, creative speech activities support children’s’ needs to socialise and play and helps ‘wire’ the brain, supporting a higher level of thinking. It can help young learners improve their listening and speaking skills, and pronunciation.

Perhaps the greatest benefit to using songs and games in the classroom is that they are fun. Interest and joy are important parts of learning a language, something which is often overlooked by teachers. Fun activities can add interest to the classroom routine and improve student motivation. Therefore, learning a language through tools such as song, dance and other creative activities is an effective and motivational way to inspire young students to learn and develop.  

For children under the age of 5, Agape School of Education offers a Playgroup programme. The aim of this programme is to enable children to acquire listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in a second language through gesture, creative speech, song and other fun activities. We expose our students to new languages in a way that helps them develop their learning skills freely (without constraint) and boosts their creativity.

We understand that at their level, a linguistically oriented course will not capture their interest or attention spans. This group environment allows them to explore and increase their knowledge faster and more efficiently. Our flexible and adaptable program allows teachers to customise activities to suit every situation and all students.

Contact us today to find an appropriate class for your young child!

Agape School of Education Got Talent!

Our student, Lin Derong (Jean Pierre) wrote an ebook about 7 things you have to know before leaping into French for a smoother learning experience. Enjoy!

 

After studying with us for a while, some of our students like to share their personal visions of ASE. Charles, Engineer, who is working for AIR BUS in Singapore, is one of them. He just graduated for the French International diploma DELF B1. Read what he has to say about our school.

Li Hong won the French Ambassador’s Cup in 2010 at MOELC while she was a student there.