It is an undeniable fact that many students in Singapore struggle with mastering the Chinese language. In 2017, the Government revamped the format of Chinese Oral Examinations, replacing picture description with video conversation. This has inevitably led to some parents and students expressing concern and are struggling to find ways to improve.
English is the dominant and first language of most Singaporeans and as such parents and students alike are more invested in speaking that language. Inevitably, this has resulted in the Chinese language taking the back seat. The dwindling usage of the Chinese language in most households is a cause for concern given that Chinese is pivotal for cross cultural and economic cooperation between Singapore and China in the near future. Conversational Chinese is therefore crucial and it has to start from young. Listed below are a few chinese oral tips to scoring good grades in the Chinese Oral Examinations.
Articulate loudly and clearly
Articulation of words is a key tenet of the oral examinations. It is a test of the student’s confidence in speaking that language and how well they master the language. Some students lack the confidence in Chinese, as such they are usually soft-spoken and struggle to articulate loudly and clearly. Under such circumstances, practice is key. Parents can expose their children to situations which require the articulation of opinions and thoughts, preferably in Chinese thereby encouraging interaction with others. Over time, students will feel more comfortable using Chinese to interact thus building confidence.
Speaking clearly and confidently to an examiner in a language which is not your strongest suit is daunting but this lack of confidence can be overcomed. Practicing daily is crucial to achieving success in the oral examinations. Parents can have daily conversations with their children in Chinese or expose them to free online materials which facilitates discussion with other children of their age.
Expose yourself to mediums of Chinese communication
Exposure to a variety of Chinese communication mediums is vital for students. It will enable students to slowly get used to the speed, tone and pace of people conversing in Chinese. There are a variety of platforms where students can capitalise such resources. Examples include the Lianhe Zaobao, Shin Min Daily News and other free online websites. There are plenty of chinese news recordings on YouTube as well and students can pick up good phrases and vocabulary from these online platforms to boost their speaking as well as writing abilities. It would be good if they are able to note these phrases into a notebook for future reference.
Other than news resources, there are also plenty of other websites free to use. Remember, learning Chinese is not tedious nor is it challenging. The process can be made fun through using a variety of resources, both online and offline.
Compile a list of good phrases and idioms
There will always be a few phrases and vocabularies which keep reappearing in assessment books or notes. Having a compilation of all these good idioms and phrases which you come across while revising is beneficial. More often than not, these phrases are versatile so they can be applied to vocal assessments such as oral examinations or written assessments like compositional writing. Having a vocabulary bank like this will impress your examiners and improve your grade.
Try to be more expressive with your emotions
In a reading assessment, it is not only important to read clearly and fluently but what’s more crucial would be adding in the emotions. Without having the right emotions to match the right moment there would be a void of emotions, coming across as monotonous and boring. Parents can help their children to develop a passion for reading and speaking aloud by cultivating a good reading habit from young. It would be good for parents to actively encourage their children to practice different voices of characters they assume. Such role play will make learning Chinese language more exciting and fun.
Important to convey your thoughts and feelings during the examination
Your thoughts and feelings are key to acing the oral examination. While articulation and fluency provides the backbone, opinions and thoughts help to boost the level of your response therefore showing that you possess good critical thinking skills. This will make the conversation more interesting and shows that you put in the effort to prepare well for the topic.
When in doubt, don’t be afraid to clarify with the examiner
Many students have a misconception that clarifying a question posed by the examiner would leave a poor record. However, this is definitely not the case! Understanding the question properly will ensure that you do not go off tangent, or worse to fail the oral examination. Many students who do not understand the question will give lacklustre responses which do not reflect their calibre. Therefore, many teachers’ advice would be to always clarify with the examiner before giving your response.
Seek external help
Seeking external help is also another viable alternative for parents who are too busy to revise with their child or struggle to revise with their child. Engaging Chinese tuition would significantly help to improve their grades and cultivate interest for the subject. Tutors would be able to identify areas of weakness and devise a plan to improve from there!
Another way would be to form study groups of 3 to 4 people. Find friends who excel at Chinese and are willing to help you improve. You might be surprised at how much you can benefit from such study sessions since ideas can bounce off each other and your friend might be able to give you tips to excel in the oral examinations!
Think before you answer
Last but not least, always think before you answer. Giving yourself ample time to think is vital to providing a well thought-out answer that displays clarity. Rushing to answer a question might result in multiple pauses and hesitation, an indication of a lack of preparation. Therefore, it is always important to think thoroughly before answering the question. You can do this by giving yourself about a minute to contemplate and organise your response.
All in all, chinese language may seem daunting and difficult to master for a handful of students in Singapore, and stress levels are usually high when major examinations such as the PSLE Chinese Oral examinations approach. With a positive mindset and these tips above, getting that A grade for chinese oral examinations is definitely achievable!