Following bubbles

It wasn’t an ideal start. I smiled as my buddy removed his mask and blearily pawed at the water in front of him. As my mouth widened, a salty fireball slid past my tonsils. I retched through my mouthpiece, but white panic set in. I broke the golden rule and launched up to the surface….

Boat in the Trees

This is the story of a boat that was painted in the colours of the ocean, but found her home in the jungle. The men on Tioman island are natural fisherman. For thousands of years, the Malays have plucked the tropical bounty from their shores, wading out past the coral reef to find flitting mosaics…

Never tease a monkey with a peanut

Unlike the playful Disney animation, in Rudyard Kipling’s novel The Jungle Book, Baloo the bear gravely warns the young Mowgli about monkeys and their status in the jungle: “Listen, man-cub,” said the Bear, and his voice rumbled like thunder on a hot night. “I have taught thee all the Law of the Jungle for all…

8 More Common Mistakes by Asian Learners

After teaching in Singapore for almost two years, I wanted to highlight the common errors that my students make in order to help other teachers. This is a follow-up to my 5 Common Mistakes post which features different problems to tackle. I suspect some of these errors are reinforced outside our classroom since these are…

The Art of Writing Reports

I’ve just written over a hundred reports and it struck me that it requires a degree of diplomatic phrasing. To help other teachers out there, here are some tried and tested lines (with their true meanings underneath)*: Alex is practicing his fine motor skills and improving his pencil grip. His colouring is really messy. He…

Classroom Curiosities XXV

It’s been a fortnight full of birthdays, sniffles and report-writing. Here is the latest from the classroom: Does that make sense? My primary classes were grappling with the homophones who’s and whose. The first is the contraction of who is, whereas the second is about who the object belongs to. The students had to complete…

Teaching Creative Writing

This week I taught a two day workshop for students aged nine years old who ranged from pre-intermediate to post-intermediate in ability. Although I often teach different writing styles to my regular classes, this was the first intensive course (15 hours) I had taught. I was given some materials by the centre, but I also…

Classroom Curiosities XXIV

This edition features a dictionary challenge gone wrong, some suspect answers and a priceless view on friendship. This week, I ran a Creative Writing Workshop during the holidays. It was fun teaching the students how to show and not tell, avoid boring adjectives and build their characters using dialogue. I’ll share more ideas on teaching…

Classroom Curiosities XXIII

Happy Teachers’ Day to all the teachers out there! This edition brings you an uncomfortable explanation, a journey into Space and the tooth fairy gone AWOL. A family day out My primary classes were writing personal recounts about a family excursion. Most children chose days out at the beach, or a fun trip abroad. One…