Monday, December 3, 2012

Momo's Learning Journey: Where does she go?

As I have mentioned more than a few times, my daughter has been getting terrible scores on English tests at school due to spelling errors and other careless errors in writing. She must have thought that she could be a super cool A+ student in her English classes, considering the time she spent with me, reading and playing in English until the age of 12 when she started studying for the entrance exam. In spite of the fact, she ended up taking extra-class-for- dummies at school. The outcome? She started saying "I HATE English."

Those classes are designed for slow learners and they supposed to help students to improve their learning skills and she should be glad to have such opportunities. But considering the humiliation the slow learners might feel to be in the class when the whole school kids know the reason why they take the classes, I felt uncertain about the effect of the effort of teachers. In spite of my concern, those extra-class-for-dummies have become her favorite.  What teachers do is to give them some tasks/ handouts to work on individually while they look after other things in the teacher's room. At the beginning, the kids did as they were told to do but eventually came up with better strategies on their own while teachers are away from the classroom. They started helping each other. Momo says learning together work better in fun and quicker way. I am not sure if it was really the teacher's intention but it happened and she said teachers were happy as long as all the tasks were correctly done within a certain time.

From this semester, she is no longer the "regular" of the class for her spelling skills got better and ironically she misses the class. Her enthusiasm in the "special" class asserts that the effect of peer learning for the age group. With more scaffolding from teachers, their learning might be accelerated, I wonder. But the peer learning experience has very positive effect on her motivation and also on her English proficiency test score. She took one of them at her school last month. This one is regular national proficiency test that the school requires students to take. In spite of her much lower than average score on her school English tests, she got 10th highest score in her school. It was a sudden leap from 40 something to 80 marks.

Daily exposure to authentic interaction between my partner and myself at breakfast table in English must be one of the reasons for the phenomenal change. For my own sake, I would like to think that the memories associated with a sense of pleasure via reading picture books and playing learning activities with her classmates at Sunnyfield English (my own school) started paying off as well. I have no idea how to prove it but she often says, "I know this phrase from Dr. Seuss.","Ah, Mr. Putter says this." and uses some expressions from those picture books she read or songs she enjoyed. It seems like after a few months of English lessons at school, those memories have returned to her mind.

Perhaps I am just speculating for my own benefit but she does started remembering bits of phrases, vocabularies, stories and songs from past and uses the experiences and knowledge for her learning. If she would be able to use her memories to hypothesize the meanings of unknown words and phrases in her learning, my score as a mum might get higher, at least on my self-evaluation sheet. Process is more important than the outcome for sure. But the positive outcome do motivate us to keep on learning to learn.

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