Public speaking is an essential skill to possess. Yet, some of the best speakers have an initial fear of speaking in front of a large audience which is why it is important to encourage our children to be effective communicators at an early age.
Over at Assumption English School (AES), the Applied Learning Programme (ALP), known as SPEAK (SPeak English with grAce and Knowledge) was introduced with an aim to cultivate students’ love and appreciation for the English Language. The programme also seeks to boost their confidence level, nurturing them into eloquent communicators who can articulate their thoughts and opinions effectively.
Creating a strong foundation
Miss Kathryn Lee, Level Head of the English Department shared that the SPEAK programme uses a spiral progression approach in developing speaking skills and is currently embarking on its third year with a range of exciting projects for the students.
“Apart from learning the language, our students get to explore values such as teamwork and responsibility when they work on their projects,” says Miss Lee who is in her 7th year of teaching at AES.
For a start, Secondary 1 students work in small groups to produce Book Trailers to encourage others to read. As they progress to Secondary 2, they take on roles such as news anchors and reporters, producing News Clips and reporting on assigned themes or stories.
Another activity known as Daily News provides an opportunity for the lower secondary students to read news articles during the school’s assembly. They write headlines as well as a short description of the day’s top stories and an English teacher guides them with the delivery of the news. For a majority of the students, it is their first public announcement and the experience is both nerve-wrecking yet enriching for them.
“It was my first time speaking in front of the whole school. I think my participation in the Daily News has helped me to overcome my fears of public speaking,” says Nurin Afiqah Bte Norman, a Secondary 3 student who also shared how the programme converted her from an introvert to a confident speaker.
“SPEAK is fun because we get to learn outside of the classroom and we don’t just do work sheets. Additionally, I’ve learned how to deliver instructions clearly to my friends and they understood me better,” she says.
Another Secondary 3 student, Alexandra Marie S Clemente, shared how she has benefitted from the programme.
“It made me believe in myself and I liked the fact that I get to speak up more in class. In addition, I got better at presentation and pronunciation too,” says Alexandra who journeyed with the school on its three-year-old ALP.
Connecting with audiences
As the students grow in confidence, they learn to become convincing speakers that captivate audiences.
Through the Campaign Speech activity, students select a topic which they are passionate about and create campaign videos and speeches about it. During recess, they take turns to address their peers in order to create an awareness for their selected social campaigns while persuading others to join in.
While creating her Campaign Speech, Alexandra shared that she learned how to coach other students.
“I had to coach my partner in pronunciation and my efforts paid off when he improved,” she says.
Upper Secondary students who show a flair for speaking were given the opportunity to participate in oratorical competitions such as the annual AES Debate Championships. Students engage in intellectual conversations with their peers and presented their views to a larger audience.
“It taught me to be persuasive and sound credible,” explains Nurin. She added, “Familiarising myself with the scripts has helped me to pronounce words convincingly and I don’t have to keep referring to it or embarrass myself by stuttering.”
Parents also shared that the programme has helped the students to be confident speakers and critical thinkers.