Upper Primary, Secondary & JC Level – Bukit Panjang

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avatar-cartoon-darren-chow

Tutor Profile: Mr. Chow

Nationality: Singaporean

Race: Chinese

Gender: Male

Born in: 1977

Qualifications

National University of Singapore (NUS) Bachelor of Arts.

Rulang Primary School

River Valley High School

Jurong Junior College

Ex. local govt. school English teacher. (Non NIE)

Distinctions in O Level English and A Level General Paper.

Diploma in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Foreign Languages)

* Distinctions in:

  • Language Teaching Methodology
  • Teaching Language Skills
  • Linguistics and Language Structure
  • Designing Lesson Plan and Classroom Management
  • Planning and Use of Resource for Language Teaching

Currently a full-time private tutor, specializing in teaching English.

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My Educational Journey

My educational journey started in Rulang Primary School. Rulang is a very good school now, renowned for churning out students with good academic results. But when I was a student there, I spent the first two years of my education in a Kampung. Those were fun, memorable days! But the fun didn't last. When I was in primary three, the school moved to it's current premises. Back then, Rulang was just like any other school - an ordinary neighborhood school.

My love for reading started when I was very young. My family went through a very rough patch and I ended up being in a single parent family with two brothers. Despite the difficult circumstances, I did relatively well for my PSLE. In fact, I did well enough to get into a SAP school. My form teacher encouraged me to choose the special stream instead of the express stream. Not knowing what I was in for, I heeded her advice and opted for the special stream.

Life in River Valley High was pressurizing. Standards were high and the pace of learning was fast. With deplorable family circumstances, my grades started to suffer, and so did my confidence. When my peers were getting private tuition to keep up with the lessons, I was giving tuition to earn my own pocket money! Strangely, I continued to do well in my English language. The O Levels is just a distant memory to me now. I got a mixed bag of grades for my subjects - mostly average grades. But my English got an A1. Later, when I was in Jurong Junior College, I scored well for my GP as well - an A2.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in NUS, where I got to read and write about all sorts of interesting sociological phenomenons. I eventually graduated in July 2001.

Conducive air-con learning environment

Conducive air-con learning environment

 

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Home Tuition @Segar Bukit Panjang

Why I Chose to Teach English

English is a communication tool that we all use daily for self expression. For students, the primary concern is obvious - Examination grades. Those who have a natural gift acquire the language quite easily. However, not everyone finds learning English to be a walk in the park. Many students struggle when it comes to language learning. They may be strong in other subjects but when it comes to English, they find that they just cannot score well in assessments and exams.

For many subjects such as Maths and Science, students find it to easier to understand and grasp concepts. Use this formula. Follow these steps. And you will arrive at the solution.

But English, as a subject, operates quite differently. Yes, there may be grammar rules. But the very same rules we depend on to give structure to our sentences may very well contribute to the confusion that students face. Why is this happening?

You see, English is a language with a clear structure. We pick some words, place them in a particular order, and the sentence conveys meaning. However, as we learn more about the language, we quickly realize that English language rules can become confusing really fast! The same word, when applied in different contexts, can convey completely different meanings. For instance, a word with continuous tense ending in -ing can also be used as an adjective. Verbs can be used to distinguish moods in varying degrees (so which one do I use?). And then there are words or phrases that somehow seem to have exactly the same meaning - e.g. 'in spite of' and 'despite'. To make things worse, a sentence can be written in many different ways without distorting the meaning. No wonder students become confused!

When a student is confused, he or she loses interest in the subject very quickly and the teacher will find it hard to be effective. The student stops listening.

As the student progresses from Primary school to Secondary school, he carries his language usage habits along with him. The symptoms are most obvious when we see students struggling with grammar and sentence structure issues.

At the secondary level, students are expected to display a basic level of proficiency when they write. At secondary four, when preparing for their O Levels, they are expected to be able to express their views effectively in a clear and concise manner. Obviously, students with grammar and vocabulary issues will have difficulty doing that. Hence, the grade to expect is C5 to D7.

If a student manages to get into a Junior College, he will have to prepare for the A Levels General Paper. The General Paper expects to the student to be highly proficient in the language. For Paper 1, an essay of between 500 to 800 words must be completed within 1 1/2 hours. The questions are more demanding, compared to O Level questions.

When students don't do well in the O Levels, they can't enter the institution of their choice. Since English is our first language (L1), we cannot exclude the subject when trying to gain admission to a local Polytechnic or University. For those who fail English O Levels, the future looks even bleaker. They can't be considered for ANY university admission going forward.

I personally know of many friends who perform well in every subject but when it comes to General Paper, they either get a C6 or they flunk the subject. A straight 'A' student with a D7 for GP may still get accepted into a local University with an appeal. But the prospects of entering a local university is not bright for those who fail the General Paper.

We can easily see that English has a huge impact on a student's future. Whether a student gets into his or her desired course (or tertiary institution) depends a lot on the English or GP grade.

In fact, many of today's adult courses require students to be proficient in English, since these courses are taught in the first language. A good grade in English (either at O or A Levels) is usually a prerequisite for course entry. If a student does not have a satisfactory grade (typically B3 and above), he may be asked to sit for a proficiency test (e.g. IELTS - International English Language Testing System). Again, there is no avoiding English.

As English is my forte, I strongly believe that I can help many students do well in their English examinations. I take advantage of my position as a private tutor to get to really know my students well. When I know them well, I find that I can zoom in on their weak areas and really help them build a strong foundation in English.

Over time, as the student improves, he will start to use the language with agility. With a good command of English, language use becomes more of a joy. In other words, a good student gets to enjoy more freedom for self-expression. Good grades then become a by-product of active lifelong learning.

In the course of my work, I sincerely hope to help as many students as I can overcome their struggles in learning English. With good grades, they are able to get into their ideal schools and courses. It is every teacher's intrinsic reward to see their students realize their dreams and aspiration. Only when they do well will I find my job satisfying.