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Students cried over “unbelievably hard” PSLE math paper

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53The recent Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) math paper, which most described as “unbelievably hard”, caused uproar among students and parents alike.

A number of students even cried after the paper. “Some of my friends cried shortly after the math paper ended,” Jamie Tan, a student who sat for PSLE this year, said.

Apparently, this year’s math paper was slightly difficult. “There are some new and unfamiliar questions in this year’s PSLE math paper,” James Ang, a local tutor, said. “Therefore, many students find these questions difficult to solve.”

Nevertheless, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the number of questions, question types and syllabus were similar to that of the papers in earlier years.

Despite the similarities mentioned by MOE, Ang said that there were many contributing factors to this year’s difficult PSLE math paper.

“I think one important reason is due to the use of calculators for PSLE math from 2009 onwards,” Ang said.

According to Channel NewsAsia, MOE said that the use of calculators is to better enhance the learning experience of students. “The introduction of the use of calculators does not have any bearing on the difficulty of paper,” a spokesperson said.

Jonathan Tan, father of Jamie Tan, however, has another idea of why the PSLE math paper is getting harder.

“PSLE need to have some killer questions so as to spread out the scores of the student,” Tan said. “But kiasu parents keep giving tuition to kids to make sure they can score these killers.”

“Then MOE will churn out more and more killers,” Tan said. “So the questions are getting more and more difficult.”

Rosalind Lim, who posted in the Straits Times forum, concurred.

“Primary 6 pupils are expected to tackle a much more difficult mathematics paper than 10 years ago,” Lim posted. “However, they are still given the same time to complete the paper.”

“As a former teacher and tutor, I have come across many capable pupils who are good at mathematics but cannot perform well because of over-challenging questions and an unrealistic time frame,” Lim posted.

Another possible reason is the not-so-straightforward phrasing used in these math questions. “It is important for students to understand the questions well before they can solve them,” Ang said.

On the hindsight, Ang said that many students will find the questions are now possible to solve quickly. “But it was not really the case while under the exam conditions faced by the primary six cohort of students this year,” Ang said.

More importantly, students should be given a more realistic and appropriate time frame. “The questions should be set within their ability to solve them,” Lim posted.

“Tremendous pressure will be on this year’s primary five students who will take PSLE next year,” Ang said. “I will have to prepare my primary five students early for that eventuality.”

“I expect the trend for future PSLE math exam questions to be of similar level of difficulty or higher, from now onwards,” Ang said.


Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

Singlish to English By The British Council

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By: Goy Soon Ting Elisa
21 October 2009

46Singapore — Got many luggages? Or not?

According to Matt Winchester, Deputy Branch Manager of British Council in Marsiling, the proper standard English should be “Do you have much luggage, or don’t you?”

This was one of the examples in the Singlish vs Standard English workshop, which highlighted common Singlish phrases used by Singaporeans.

The workshop, held last Sunday, examined the differences between Singlish and English. It was the limelight of the events conducted at the Woodlands Regional Library with the aim of improving Singaporeans’ English.

In the workshop, Winchester taught participants how to spot standard English. He also reviewed the common grammatical mistakes made by students such as ‘yet’ and ‘already’ and uncountable and countable nouns.

Besides these, he also raised awareness among the participants on intonation and stressed syllables.

Most of the participants came with the purpose of learning how to improve their standard English. Hemalatha aged 31, a housewife with two children, said, “I want to learn more about the correct English to teach my kids.”

During the workshop, participant Ellen Tan, a 60-year-old retiree, said, “Singlish is a mixture of local dialects and other official languages. For example, the usage of Malay words like ‘makan’ is poor English.”

Tan also said that she is against children speaking Singlish because Singlish conversations articulated by children affect their command of standard English, which is especially evident when children are told to write an essay.

The interactive workshop attracted a group of approximately 30 people from all walks of life. Short exercises and references, which were prepared by the British Council, were distributed to all participants.


This two-hour long workshop was organised jointly by the British Council and the Speak Good English Movement. Participants were required to register for this workshop in advance via e-mail. The places were allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

After the workshop, participant Jenny Wong, a 48-year-old homemaker with two children, said, “This workshop is useful and it has helped us to correct our grammatical mistakes such as the usage of ‘already’ and ‘yet’ and we have learnt that the word ‘equipment’ is an uncountable noun.”

Winchester said that The British Council is a source where people can learn British English and hopefully, Singaporeans will use Singapore standard English in the right context.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

University Students Lobbying to Save Semakau Landfill

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By: Basu Mallick Koustav

A group of fourth-year students from the National University of Singapore are petitioning Office of Environment and Sustainability to double the number of recycling bins on the Kent Ridge campus as part of their final year project to prolong the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill.

The students hope that increasing the number of bins would make recycling more convenient for students and staff to recycle their unwanted material. The current university recycling rate is 12%, which is considerably lower that the national’s average of 56%.

The students proposed ideas such as creating new recycling bins for other materials such as used stationery and used course packs, as well as relocating some of the existing recycling bins to more strategic locations.

However, Marcus Tay, an executive from the Office of Environment and Sustainability, rejected these ideas and said his Office did not have sufficient resources to handle the implementation of such proposals.

He added that recycling is not a priority, as it does not contribute to savings cost in terms of dollars and cents, unlike increasing the temperature of air conditioning in the library.

The students, who are from the Communications and New Media Programme in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, hope to collect a thousand signatures from students and staff members.

The group of students, who call themselves Greenovative Communications, is intending to hold the petition for one week near April 1 next year to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Semakau Landfill.

The director for the team, Goh Tong Jee, said, “They (Office of Environment and Sustainability) cannot ignore such a petition as it will not reflect well on them. A thousand voices are much stronger than just one.”

Greenovative Communications will be carrying out a campaign that will encourage active participation from the university community. They intend to collect and recycle 500 kilograms of material by encouraging members of the community to individually bring half a kilogram of material for collection. Each member will be given a jigsaw puzzle each where the final 1000 piece picture will be of the Semakau Landfill.

Greenovation Communications will be launching their campaign under Roots and Shoots, a programme dedicated in encouraging grassroots activism to better the society by helping animals, the environment or the community.

The Semakau Landfill is Singapore’s first and only landfill. It is located on the offshore island of Pulau Semakau, which has a thriving ecosystem. It began operations on April 1 1999 and is expected to last till 2045. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources hopes to extend this deadline through resource conservation initiatives such as recycling.

(Insert website link to Pulau Semakau landfil http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/semakau.html )

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

Students produce new product by fusing tea with beer

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By: Chng Ming Li

Setting out to redefine tea, a team of students from the National University of Singapore’s Food Science and Technology Department welcomed schoolmates to try out their new product, tea beer.


Team leader Hui Wei Bin, a third year Food Science major, said the team brewed and mixed different types of tea and beer and added various ingredients such as sugar to improve its taste.

More than 100 students responded to the posters placed on campus and invites sent via Facebook to try tea beer at the Food Science Laboratory in National University of Singapore.

“We spent six months testing permutations of various proportions to see which one tasted best before deciding on jasmine tea, earl grey tea and Sapporo beer,” Hui said.

Students were intrigued by the posters and came from all faculties to find out what tea beer was about. They evaluated the new product by comparing the aroma and taste of tea beer with common brands of beer.

“It’s a novel idea. I was curious about this new beverage and decided to come see for myself. Tea Beer tastes like beer and smells really good, just like tea,” fourth year computing student, Chan Ka Ho said.

However, not all students felt the same way towards the new product.

“It has a pleasant aroma but tastes weird. It has a sour aftertaste unlike normal beers and I would not buy it,” communications and new media student, Valerie Oon said.


Hui said they received generally favourable responses but needed to wait for the results from the consumer evaluation before assessing the success of the drink and improving it.

“I think it’s an interesting concept. I liked the new combination of tea and beer and went back to queue for a second round,” Engineering student Evelyn Soo said.

The team produced tea beer for an annual competition in Food Science where student liaise with local companies to produce new products. The award winning Tofu Cheesecake was a product of this competition in 2003.

The tea beer team is working with Lim Lam Thye Tea Company and aims to expand the functional applications of teas to deliver the benefits of tea in an innovative product that will lead to a new market trend without compromising its taste.

“The company already has Matcha paste that is popular for confectionary. Tea beer would be a first in our region,” team member Chen Shiqi said.

Participants can give their opinion on tea beer and view photos from the Tea Beer Sensory via the Facebook page.


Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

Four seasons felt for the first time in campus

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By: Lim Pei Wen

26The primal sound of thundering rhythms on massive Japanese taiko drums rumbled through the National University of Singapore last Friday where more than 300 people turned up for the first ever Japanese Cultural Night.

From the tea ceremony to the traditional Japanese dance, the Japanese Cultural Night, held at Lecture Theatre 13, was dedicated to raise awareness and appreciation of the Japanese cultural arts in the NUS.

The theme of the event was titled “kisetsu”, meaning “seasons” in Japanese.

The audience was treated to a visual and audio display of Japanese cultural arts and traditional music that reflected the different seasons starting from autumn and ending in summer.

The two-hour event featured performances by Singapore Polytechnic’s taiko drum team, NUS’ Japanese harp club, traditional dances by NUS Nihon Buyo and a tea ceremony demonstration by NUS Sado Group.

Amid the performances that night was the famous song “Sakura Sakura”, also known as the second National Anthem of Japan, presented by the Nihon Buyo club.

Students who attended the event gave rave reviews and felt that it was an exclusive opportunity to learn about some of the more obscure aspects of Japanese culture.

Among them was Ang Hwee Heng, a second-year Japanese studies student who is currently learning Japanese. She said that the performances truly reflected the beauty of traditional Japanese culture and arts.

“I felt impressed by the amount of hard work the students have put in”, Ang said. “I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the array of performances such as Sado (tea ceremony) and Buyo (traditional Japanese dance), which I normally do not have the chance to watch.”

Phyllis Ow Xin Mei, the vice president of the NUS Nihon Buyo Club, where members learn the principles of traditional Japanese dance derived from Kabuki theatre, felt that this event provides a chance for people who are interested in Japanese culture to come together and share their love for it.

“Although our performances are not very skilful, we really want to introduce the Japanese culture to the NUS community,” she said.


“Soranbushi” is a well-known folk dance with origins from the fishermen of Hokkaido

To indicate spring turning into summer, the last performance, “Soranbushi,” a well-known folk dance re-adapted to modern lively beats, concluded the night’s performance on a high.

Success of this first ever Japanese cultural night was marked not only by the packed lecture theatre but also by the thunderous applause heard as the performers took to the stage for their curtain call.

“It was a truly enjoyable experience. The performers clearly take pleasure in what they were doing. I really hope to see more of such event,” third-year business student William Ong said after the show.

Sponsored by Ichiban Sushi, Japanese Cultural Night was organised by the Japanese Studies Society in a joint collaboration with NUS Nihon Buyo, NUS Sado Group and Kotokotton as part of the 2009 Japan Culture Day, which promotes the spreading of Japanese culture throughout the world.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Posted in Education, Online News