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Nurturing confident communicators

03 Feb 2017

Nurturing confident communicators

Asta Cheng learned to speak up through the school’s Applied Learning Programme and now rocks the radio waves. (Photo credit: Holy Innocents’ High School)

At Holy Innocents’ High School, young aspiring deejays and journalists cut their teeth running the school’s radio programme and setting up their own news blogs, and learn the art of effective communication.

It’s 7.10am on a Thursday. Asta Cheng’s voice, cheerful and relaxed, is heard over the school’s PA system.

“Good morning! You’re listening to HIHS on Air. I’m Asta from Class 2 Humility.” It’s the exam period and Asta shares studying tips and various stress busters. On other days, she talks about the latest news or events that are taking place in school.

Asta, who is in Secondary 2, didn’t expect to become one of the deejays for the school’s Chinese radio programme. Once considered shy by her peers, she used to fear speaking up. She says: “In primary school, I didn’t like to talk much. During group presentation, I’d be the one clicking the mouse to change the slides instead of talking.”

Stepping out, speaking up

Students like Asta are learning to become confident communicators through Holy Innocents’ High’s Applied Learning Programme (ALP), which is Journalism and Broadcasting. The ALP is run by both the Chinese and English language departments in the school.

Students hone their oratorical and writing skills through a series of fun assignments such as producing podcasts from scratch and running their own news blogs. Ms Elizabeth Wen, Head of Department for English and Literature, says these activities push students to step out of their comfort zone.  

“Some students can be camera shy or are afraid to speak in public,” Ms Wen says. “Through the ALP, they learn to express themselves freely and to interact with others. We hope all our students are able to speak clearly, with confidence and purpose by the time they leave school.”

To run a news blog, all Secondary 2 students get to take on the roles of journalists and editors. They interview their classmates and teachers at various school events such as Chinese New Year celebrations or Total Defence Day. Those with stronger writing skills help to edit the articles.

Goh Yan Hui, a budding reporter, was nervous when she had to approach her peers for quotes at the school’s annual road run. When she finally gathered up courage to interview the winners, she realised it wasn’t as intimidating as she had imagined.

Going behind the scenes

Besides these school assignments, the school wants to expose students to real-world experiences.

For instance, Asta and five other schoolmates, had the chance to go on air as guests of a Chinese radio programme 88.3 Jia FM. Asta was impressed with the professional set-up of the studio and how the deejay handled the equipment as she hosted the programme. In contrast, the setup in the school’s recording studio was less complicated.

The school also intends to invite radio deejays and journalists to the school to share their professional insights on working in the media industry. Learning journeys to the newsroom or broadcasting station are also on the cards.

Such industry exposure is certainly exciting for students like Asta who dreams of hosting her own radio programme one day.  She says, “As a deejay, you get to communicate with many people who are listening in to the show. You can spread news and awareness of what’s going on around us.”