An innovative new program will see Singapore students use comics to improve their critical thinking and essay-writing skills.
The revamped Creative Comic Essay Writing Program, announced by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Low Yen Ling, on Monday, was created by the Committee to Promote Chinese Language and Learning (CPCLL).
The program – aimed at students struggling with using the Chinese language to write essays – involves four two-hour classes with 20 students each who will attend after school hours at participating schools.
“We hope students will be inspired and fired up in their imagination as they write their essays, and will gain a new love for the Chinese language,” Low told the Singapore Times.
The program’s learning materials, which cost $10 each, include a compilation of comics by local cartoonist and head of department of special program (Chinese culture) of Tao Nan School, Ang Thiam Poh. This is accompanied by a set of critical thinking questions developed by Dr Chua Chee Lay, leader of the CPCLL Writing Group.
“In order to write well, students need to think critically and plan their ideas carefully before putting them into words. As such, critical questioning will be very helpful to scaffold their writings,” Dr Chua said.
This is the first time such questions are included in the program since its previous iteration, the Chinese Comic Writing Programme, was launched in 2015, which had a heavier focus on dialogue writing.
Schools can register for the programme from Tuesday (Feb 13), with lessons beginning later this year. About 25 primary and secondary schools are expected to sign up, benefiting 500 Primary 3 to Secondary 2 students.
Schools can pick between two versions - elementary and regular - based on their students' language abilities.
If well-received, the program might be offered to students of other age groups or mother tongues, said the director of the Ministry of Education's Mother Tongue Language Branch, Madam Heng Boey Hong.
Initiatives by the CPCLL rolled out to Malay and Tamil language students include the Wow Wild Learn Programme, which aims to bring mother tongues to life for pre-school children through visits to the River Safari.