Well versed in the art of teaching English

Leadership Award winners (front row, from left): Ms Lim Yin-Shin, Madam Sukhjeet Kaur, and Ms Foo Soo Ling. Teaching Award winners (back row, from left): Mr Joseph Toh Kim Leng, Mr Ian Tan Xing Long, Miss Sandra Teng Chin Yang, and Ms Naznin Rehana B
Leadership Award winners (front row, from left): Ms Lim Yin-Shin, Madam Sukhjeet Kaur, and Ms Foo Soo Ling. Teaching Award winners (back row, from left): Mr Joseph Toh Kim Leng, Mr Ian Tan Xing Long, Miss Sandra Teng Chin Yang, and Ms Naznin Rehana Begum.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Seven teachers out of 106 nominees win Inspiring Teacher of English Award

From meet-and-greet sessions with local writers to poetry circles and discussions on current events, seven teachers helped their students develop a love for the English language in a variety of ways.

Yesterday, these teachers received the Inspiring Teacher of English Award 2016 in recognition of their efforts during a ceremony at the National Library.

Four of them won the Teaching Award, which honours outstanding teachers of English language, English literature and General Paper.

They are Ms Naznin Rehana Begum, 37, from Dunearn Secondary School; Miss Sandra Teng Chin Yang, 48, from Nanyang Girls' High School; Mr Joseph Toh Kim Leng, 37, from Raffles Girls' School (Secondary); and Mr Ian Tan Xing Long, 32, from Raffles Institution.

The other three won the Leadership Award, which recognises heads of department, subject or level heads, or coordinators who led their schools in developing and putting in place effective English language programmes.

They are Madam Sukhjeet Kaur, 38, from CHIJ Katong Convent; Ms Foo Soo Ling, 48, from Nanyang Girls' High School; and Ms Lim Yin-Shin, 39, from Hwa Chong Institution.

The seven winners were chosen from a pool of 106 nominees.

Mr Tan, an English Literature teacher at RI , holds regular poetry circles for his students.

He said: "I love seeing how poetry excites them and touches them emotionally, and enjoy the energetic discussions about the subject, which urges them to think more deeply about their lives and the lives of the people around them."

Fellow literature teacher Naznin encourages reflective journaling to draw out her students' personal voices and get them to express their thoughts on the texts they have studied in class.

"(By asking them) questions such as 'Do you identify with the characters?', the students get into it and are very excited, so it generates a lot of discussion," she said.

One of the winners of the Leadership Award, Ms Foo, who heads the English department at Nanyang Girls' High School, runs workshops and professional learning sessions for her colleagues on different aspects of the English language, from phonology to grammar.

"Working with like-minded colleagues to design programmes and provide opportunities for our students to cultivate their own voice gives me purpose as a teacher of English," she said.

Now in its ninth year, the awards are jointly presented by The Straits Times and the Speak Good English Movement (SGEM), and is supported by the Ministry of Education.

Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Education and Communications and Information, was the guest of honour at the awards ceremony.

He said: "Teachers play an important role in society, and English teachers have a slightly different role because English language becomes an enabler for other subjects such as Maths and Science."

He also added that to "engage in civics and humanities subjects requires a good command of English and its nuances".

SGEM chairman Goh Eck Kheng called the recipients "the best and brightest English-language teachers in Singapore".

He said: "I am saying this to recognise the role you play in teaching English, to stress the importance of what you are doing, and encourage you to do your very best."

• Additional reporting by David Tay

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2016, with the headline 'Well versed in the art of teaching English'. Print Edition | Subscribe