Johor students use NST as education tool to learn English

Ahmad Fairuz Othman

JOHOR BARU: Discussing issues highlighted in newspapers can helps liven up any classroom language lessons.

As a learning tool, newspapers provide information, photography and pictorial charts and graphics that explain current issues in an effective manner.

Malaysian University English Test (MUET) teacher Idzawati Ideris @ Noordin said her students enjoy learning from newspapers such the New Straits Times (NST) as it improves their vocabulary and helps them keep abreast with the latest issues.

"By using the NST in class, I am able to help students strengthen their language skills. It certainly helps with their preparation for MUET components of listening, speaking, reading and writing.

"Many students are intimidated by certain papers in MUET. But with the help of the NST, it can help them become comfortable with using English and it can boost their proficiency in the language," said Idzawati, who teaches Upper Form Six students at SMK Dato' Jaafar, Johor Baru.

She was among the teachers who helped facilitate a NST Newspaper in Education (NIE) workshop involving 70 Form Six students.

The workshop at SMK Dato' Jaafar here today was led by English language lecturer Vincent D'Silva.

Her colleague Jothy Menon said the NST was an all-in-one supplement to the English syllabus at school.

"Families should buy the newspaper as a reading material at home. Inculcating the reading habit from the young age can help strengthen a person's mastery of English," said Jothy.

Meanwhile, D'Silva said the teachers and students learnt first-hand how every part of the NST can be used to develop language skills such as comprehension, building vocabulary and inculcating critical thinking.

"Teaching English the newspaper way can be a rewarding experience as it provides for an activity-oriented lesson which is more student-centred than teacher-centred," he said.

Students in the workshop were enthusiastic about the newspaper-based activities once the ice was broken by choral reading activity titled 'Newspapers'.

"One segment of the workshop included ways students responded to an article written by NST Associate Editor for News, Chok Suat Ling.

"This skill is important as students were engaged in higher order thinking skills, identified what is vital and generated ideas based on good writing," said D'Silva.

Sponsors for the workshop were the M Suites Hotel, Grand Bluewave Hotel, Tropical Inn Hotel, Oxford Fajar and Ponderosa Golf and Country Resort.

Meanwhile, students who took part in the workshop said they were impressed with the wealth of knowledge that the NST provided.

Thenmolih Subramaniam, 19, said sections such as NST Sport were not only about scores of the latest football leagues but also offered insightful commentaries about the issues plaguing the Malaysian sporting fraternity.

Vanessa Lim Jia Jia, 19, who is vice-president of the editorial team that produces her school newspaper, Jaafar Journals, said she obtained useful writing tips from the NST-NIE workshop.

"The interesting writing styles I read in the NST gave me some ideas on how to improve my own writing skills. I could adopt some of the things I learned when writing for the Jaafar Journals," said Lim.

Another writer for the school newspaper, Hilda Helena Abdul Halim, 19, said she gained a new level of respect for the people behind the NST after participating in the NST-NIE workshop.

"It's not easy to write a good story for a newspaper. As a writing novice, I appreciate the effort that goes behind getting a good story and presenting it in the most interesting way," said Hilda, who is the secretary of the same editorial team.