Monday, August 20, 2012

"Tell me about your school turtle"

So PSLE finally begins, with the oral exams last Thursday and Friday. Oral with Andre is a touch-and-go affair as it depends largely whether the topic given can trigger his imagination. Even though the weightage for the oral component (especially for Chinese) is pretty high, it tends to get relatively little attention. I know his school hardly practises oral with students except closer to the exams and I tend to neglect it with Andre as well, simply because I have no idea how to go about it.

Thursday was his Chinese oral. My heart sank when Andre came home looking upset and said it was quite difficult. The picture was a road scene which was not something he had practised much with his tutor. He couldn't use any of the phrases he had learned and he didn't know the Chinese names for a couple of items in the picture.

For the conversation topic, the examiner asked, "What are the school rules you like and dislike the most?" I thought this was a very odd question and my first reaction was pure relief - that Andre actually understood the phrase "校规"! (As you can tell, the Chinese standard in this household is not very high).

My heart almost stopped when he told me that initially, he didn't hear the teacher's question clearly and thought she was asking something about turtles. Thank God he asked her to repeat the question as I wouldn't put it past him to start rattling on about turtles. Phew.

His reply? He liked how you can't cross the roads in school until the teacher directing traffic indicated that you could as that showed the school's concern and care for the students. The rule he liked the least was that even after the exams, you're not allowed to talk in class.

I was rather impressed, not that his answers were particularly insightful, but by his ability to think on his feet. If it was me, I'm pretty sure I would have been stumped. I thought the second answer was hilarious - I hope the examiners were entertained!

Friday was English oral and according to him, it went ok. The picture showed a charity foodfair and the conversation topic was a school activity that he had participated in. He spoke about taking part in the school's funfair and when asked what he learned from it, his answer was teamwork.

So for now, this part of the PSLE is over. I don't think it went as well as he'd hoped but I'm fully aware that it could have been worse. Much worse.


Elaine said...

Hilarious! The part about school turtles... haha...

Hmm... I wonder if homeschooled kids get the same type of questions.

monlim said...

Elaine: I was wondering the same thing! Also with pictures depicting the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Dear Monica,
I love the bit on the turtles! Funny!
I guess they used the school setting as the backdrop since that is the leveller.

Actually, would it not be better for the teacher to have the question in print and to read from there? It is an oral examination, yes but the crux is to ensure the students 'get' the question and answer it according it, right?

Just my immediate thought lah ...

monlim said...

Anon: I don't know how they standardise, I heard some questions were slightly different but with the same topic of school rules. Maybe if the student didn't understand it, they would rephrase?

It must be quite difficult to moderate, considering there are two different sessions for each exam. Actually 3 if you count the one at the independent centre for those who missed the first 2 sessions.

Anonymous said...

sorry that was Grace
jialut i am not very tech savvy sigh...forgive me!

monlim said...

Grace: no worries!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering how did the examiner knew that Andre's school has a pet turtle, until I came to the part about "校规", and I burst out laughing. Hilarious. And yes, I am impressed by Andre's answer, too. Simple, direct. I take it that he is a straight talker?

My son had his English oral exam on Thursday and MT on Friday, the other way round.
Phew, the first hurdle is over.

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