Dr Zheng Yingjiang, resident Master Teacher of BRPS, supports teachers in our Mother Tongue Language department. She is deeply driven to make the teaching and learning of MTL enjoyable and relevant. “I firmly believe that our children can be motivated to become proficient MTL users when they are happily and meaningfully engaged in a safe and conducive learning environment, and in which they will see and understand that learning a MTL offers them an edge in an increasing globalised economy,” she shared. Importantly, Dr Zheng believes that our children will develop a positive sense of identity and retain our Asian roots and values if they developed a love for MTL since young.
Cultivating a love of MTL in the young
Dr Zheng hopes to be able to encourage more parents and teachers to nurture a love for MTL in children. “With support and encouragement from us, our children will enjoy using MTL with their friends, family and community and grows in appreciation of its culture.” Today, many of our young children come from predominantly English-speaking background. This comes with new challenges and demands.
She has two tips for parents:
- Parents could begin teaching learning and/or making use of their MTL on a daily basis. For example, parents may play with their children in MTL, point out different objects while accompany with children to walk around the neighbourhood in MTL, as well as borrow MTL books that the children are interested in from the library, and read the books to their children regularly.
- Be a reading mummy or reading daddy! That is a child's’ greatest fortune. Do not be afraid to dive in and enjoy the process and interaction with children while reading a story.
Deepening professional development among MTL teachers
Dr Zheng shared that her residency in BRPS is a platform to work alongside and grow professionally with teachers. “I hope that in BRPS, we can discover the purpose and deep joy of teaching and to collectively develop our capacity and strengthen the professional practice. This, I hope, will keep improving the quality of our curriculum delivery.”
This quality of curriculum delivery is anchored in pedagogical principles. As children in the classroom have different learning styles, it is crucial to adopt a multi-modal approach as well as tiered instructional strategies to maximise their learning. Dr Zheng shares some of the strategies that she employs in the classroom. She also discuss these strategies and checks in on their adoption across other MTL classrooms.
Empowering student voices in the classroom
“In my classroom, I observe and listen to students carefully, and use observed results and information to ensure students have opportunities for continuous learning and success. Every day, I ensure that the children are able to have a chance to present their opinions in front of the class, since I believe that efficiency and confidence in communicating opinions is definitely an important 21st century skill which cannot be compromised. I also make sure that my students always have a chance to read. Not only do they engage in reading textbooks, they also have a chance to explore the interesting novels and picture books that I recommend to them.”
Leveraging an inquiry-based approach
“When planning a lesson, I would always think about how to design meaningful learning experiences through technology-enhanced activities and assessment tasks. For example, in one of my recent inquiry-based lessons, I had planned to ask the children to explore the growing process of green beans. However, by allowing them to develop a curiosity for the subject, I amassed multiple authentic questions raised by the children themselves. Through this inquiry session, we proposed hypotheses to an authentic question, “The greater the amount of water given to the green bean plant, the better it will grow.” The children are encouraged to use two different methods to record their observations, a diary used to record the growth of the green bean as well as a life cycle diagram of the green bean plant, both in their MTL. After that, they would make a comparison between the diary and the diagram. Finally, they are given the opportunity to present their findings through the SLS portal. I am happy to see my students to do oral and written presentation confidently after experiencing the co-constructed learning process.”
Dr Zheng shared her a personal aspiration that has guided her education journey. “I hope that my students are able to become independent, self-directed learners and will continue to grow a love towards lifelong learning of their MTL.”