Felin Kua graduated from Murdoch University, Australia, with a Master of Human Resource Management. She now devotes her time and dedication to tutoring and working hand-in-hand with students from Primary and Secondary levels, encouraging and motivating them in their studies. She prepares customised and innovative teaching methods for every student, adapting to their interests and needs.
Felin is the author of Bridging English: K2 to Primary 1. This book is specially designed for students to learn, practise and improve their English language skills in a simplified way. This book covers grammar, vocabulary, sentence structuring, spelling words and Pictionary-like stories. Students who are currently in kindergarten will learn new vocabulary words and grammar usage. Today, Felin shares with us the creative methods that she uses with her students to help them understand difficult concepts, and provides extra tips on how students can revise for the different subjects in school.
About your book
- The book looks like a lot of fun! How can students use it effectively?
The stories in the book are based on Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) Stellar programme for Primary 1 students. The current English curriculum in our primary schools do not have a specific textbook or workbook that they use, unlike in the past when we had our PETS textbook and workbook.
Current booklists still consist of worksheets, but these worksheets are only kept by teachers and given to students progressively during their school days. Parents will only get to revise these worksheets with their children, after they are already completed with their corrections done in school and returned to the students for filing purposes.
I have also gathered some feedback from several parents whose children I was teaching previously, especially for pre-schoolers and Primary 1 children. The most common feedback was that they did not know how to prepare their children for upcoming Primary 1 level, especially English. Other than reading storybooks and expanding their vocabulary bank, they had no other sources to make sure that their children could catch up or learn to improve their English skills to the standard expected in Primary 1.
Hence, I have decided to come up with this book to allow parents to do some pre-Primary 1 work with their children. Parents will also get to know and read the stories their children are exposed to in school, instead of only knowing the story titles.
Students can use this book effectively by reading the short stories to learn new vocabulary words through spelling, and also understand the usage of proper grammar through simple exercises.
They can also treat it as a compiled book of bedtime stories.
2. As K2 students are generally not accustomed to guidebook practice, how frequently should they use this book to help them gain confidence in English?
They should use this book for 30 minutes every day, and read or do some exercises in the book in order to get used to the daily lesson duration in school as well. However, as far as I understand from parents, they tend to extend the learning duration to 1 hour at home.
3. How can we encourage K2 students to use this book independently?
Parents can encourage K2 students to use this book independently by rewarding them for every paragraph read without guidance or for exercises done correctly. To start off, parents can do up simple exercises like fill in the blanks or matching animal sounds to the correct animals, etc.
4. What are some of the more important aspects of the book that students should master before they enter Primary 1?
Students should master the following:
(a) Different letter sounds (phonics), to help in their spelling in Primary 1
(b) Proper usage of pronouns (I, He, She, They, We, You, It)
(c) Identify animals, people or objects through verbally naming them or pointing them out in pictures
(d) Spelling out simple vocabulary words like book, cat, dog, etc.
5. What else can students do to prepare for Primary 1 English?
They can watch more English cartoons or kids’ dramas shown on television to get exposed to the language more often. However, parents should also be mindful of their screen time.
6. How else can parents support their children in this transition from K2 to Primary 1 English?
Students are encouraged to visit the library more frequently to read and get exposed to more books, such as fiction books and not just picture books.
- Why did you decide to leave the corporate world for teaching?
I left the corporate world for medical reasons. I took around 1 year to recuperate my mental health and stumbled upon an opportunity in the teaching industry, as I voluntarily coached my nieces and nephews during the year.
2. What were some of the challenges that you faced early on in your tutoring journey?
Some challenges I have faced are:
(a) Lack of experience, where some parents did not find me suitable to teach their children, despite my qualifications.
(b) Having to identify children’s conditions like dyslexia or ADHD and adapt my teaching curriculum accordingly.
3. Can you share what are some of your customised and innovative teaching methods to help your students to understand a difficult concept?
My teaching methods are customised according to my students’ studying habits, personalities and learning curves.
For students who are disciplined and able to focus on book-based academics, a systematic step-by-step guide and identifying keywords are sufficient for them to understand a difficult concept. Thereafter, they will need the time to practise thoroughly.
For students who are more interactive-based learners, a visual teaching approach is necessary. Hence flashcards, counting sticks, pictorial images etc. are required to assist with my teaching methods for them to understand a difficult concept.
For students who are easily distracted or who may be addicted to gaming, a questing reward system is established to motivate them to perform basic work completion. Bonus points are awarded to them if they listen to my explanation attentively and are able to solve the questions with the same method afterwards.
4. What are some of the differences in teaching primary school students versus secondary school students?
Teaching primary school students versus secondary school students are certainly different. There are also differences in teaching for lower primary and upper primary students.
When I’m teaching lower primary students, I have to be more engaging, interactive and fun to be with, in order to allow them to learn through fun, stay motivated and feel that studying is a fun journey overall.
Upper primary students are exposed to online and mobile games more often these days. Most may be even be addicted to games and can’t focus on their studies. You can easily notice these students as they will be glued to their phones, tablets, or laptops most of the time.
Bringing them back to the world of books, words and studies is challenging. Books, words and physical writing are not as appealing as the colourful world of electronics. Hence, I need to understand what the students like, join them in their world of electronics but at the same time, limit their screen time. The keyword for them is balance.
I will often advise them that 1 hour of play time is equivalent to 1 hour of study time, and this study time must be productive to show how well they have understood the concept, regardless of the subject.
Teaching secondary school students can be more academically rigorous, as they have already been exposed to at least 6 years of primary school curriculum and have gone through the first important hurdle in their studies which is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). I will teach them using textbook exercises, ten-year series and past year school papers, as through these 4 years of secondary education, the usual rule is that practice makes perfect.
5. How can students strengthen their foundation apart from studying?
Students can strengthen their foundation for their respective subjects in a variety of ways:
Language subjects: (1) Read, (2) Speak, (3) Write and (4) Listen
They can learn from their surroundings, through reading newspapers, storybooks, etc., speaking with their friends/parents, listening to radio stations, writing journal entries, or even creating their own blogs or vlogs (video logs).
Mathematics subjects: Practice makes perfect. Join Math groups on social media, to get exposed to questions from other levels. Be a tutor/mentor to their juniors or classmates. Learn in a study group, and share or discuss solutions.
History – Get the facts right. Timelines will be your best friend in this subject. Search the Web on the history of other countries and you can even read them as stories.
Geography – Maps and scales will be your new buddies. Make your own maps. Be your own map designer. Look up in Google for the changes in terrains during different times as the Earth revolves.
Literature – Indulge yourself in reading, especially for books like Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. Read them up as stories and imagine yourself as the main character to feel what they are going through as the story progresses.
Chemistry – Periodic tables, chemical formulas and the interaction of mixtures are important. Enjoy every practical lesson; you will learn more through practical lessons than reading up a bunch of formulas.
Physics – Remember all the formulas and understand what these formulas are used for. Try to incorporate the concepts you have learnt into the real world, like when you are playing basketball with your friends, on how energy changes from one state to another, etc.
Biology – Familiarise yourself with all the terminologies used; make a vocabulary word bank; create mind maps.
6. How can students motivate themselves when they feel stressed, especially when they prepare for exams?
Feeling stressed is one of the most common emotions for students. Here is how I usually self-motivate, regardless of me being a student before or a tutor now:
- Stop all the things you are doing. Play soothing music, close your eyes and try to clear your mind for 15 minutes or so.
- Have a day outing with family or friends.
- Watch your favourite shows/drama episodes, but up to a certain limit.
7. Lastly, do you have any other advice that you would give to students?
Treat exams like the normal practice exercises that you have been doing daily. Try your best to avoid last minute crash course revisions. Exam concepts and questions are more or less similar – just ensure that you have fully understood the concepts.