Monday, 17 September 2012

Memorising essays?

I was slightly bothered by my students' comments on a suggestion that they memorise essays for the SPM. I've heard of such an idea for some time now but I have never asked my students to memorise essays for the SPM. Memorising chunks or interesting phrases and expressions is still palatable but memoring full essays? The idea was to learn the essay (one of two) by heart and to 'adjust' the content for open-topics or the narrative. We are all familiar with topics such as 'Friends' (open topic) and a story ending with say, "...If only I had listened." The advice my students got was to memorise an essay and to make the necessary editing to fit the title. This is because, according to my students, who had listened to the talk,  in the SPM assessment, the content does not matter. What matters is the language...

Here's my two-cents on the matter:

i)  This 'method' is probably best suited for weak to very weak students who can hardly write but there is a danger in that the student's real language is easily traced to Directed Writing.Through this method, teachers hope that these students will at least gain some marks.

ii) Yes, the main concern in Paper 1 is language. But if your Directed Writing is a 'C' band and your Continuous Writing is 'A' due to memorising, it will still cost you dearly. Experienced examiners will be able to trace this easily. 

Exams do cause teachers to look for desperate measures to make sure students pass English.  But if everyone follows this method, what will happen to the standard of English in the country? Isn't it already low? Meanwhile I have some damage control to do with my classes :)




The Thinking Teacher



2 comments:

  1. Yeah, so true. I never memorised any essay and I definitely wrote my essays with my heart. :)
    Well that was back in 2008. Now if you ask me to write an essay, it's a tall task I tell you.
    Hope to get that heart feeling again. :p

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  2. well-said rozaidi :)i suppose the speaker didn't mean any harm but it confused my students alright!

    ReplyDelete

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