We previously shared about how students struggle with spelling and oral, and today we move on to talk about another two pillars of Chinese that most students seem to struggle with – composition and comprehension.
While many students go for Chinese tuition in Singapore to improve their grades in composition and comprehension, it more often than not boils down to simple memorising of frameworks – and we believe that we can do better than that. So, without further ado, let us explore what students can do to score better, especially when they are weak at this subject.
We all know what it is like to memorise a template or study the best-used phrases and idioms to score well for our exams. And this practice has persisted, especially for those who are weaker at writing, as you can copy and paste it across all sorts of topics. While it certainly is an improvement over poor and shoddy writing, we always encourage our students to build on it rather than using it as their be-all and end-all solution.
While there are best practices to be applied to writing great compositions, utilising memorised formats haphazardly not only interrupts the flow, and it is clear to the examiner that a student’s Chinese is weak when writing done outside of a memorised structure suddenly drops drastically in quality. We thus recommend that students to build their vocabulary and writing style organically, writing simple but thoughtful sentences before learning to incorporate meaningful phrases and idioms.
The main idea isn’t to skip the basics and jump straight to utilising complicated phrases but to ensure that your writing has a natural cadence and rhythm. This allows for a much smoother flow of ideas and writing that your examiners will be quick to pick up as well.
Admittedly, comprehension is the most difficult discipline to adopt a single method to improve in as there are so many different skills that is being tested by this exam format. Reading, recognising vocabulary, understanding the question, and proper inference are just some of the skills required. Practice is par for the course here, but what are some good habits we can incorporate during our study sessions so we can learn at a faster pace?
Many beginners struggle to understand the comprehension passage as they do not understand most of the words. A great way to start building on their vocabulary is through doing practice comprehension with a Chinese dictionary at hand. Mark out words you don’t understand, read through the surrounding words and make an educated guess through the context given. This method allows for slow and steady learning of Chinese words and phrases, especially those you see multiple times across different passages.
We also recommend our students to read more widely during their free time. Be it a book, newspaper, or even a comic or two. Any form or reading is good practice (of course, at a suitable level to help you), and we cannot overstate how students with a regular and consistent reading habit tend to grow steadily in their Chinese language skills.
If there is any running trend here, we hope you see that we’re working with the standards the students originally have and helping them grow from there. As educators, we recognise the pros and cons that memorising brings to the table. But the shortfalls of memorising comes when that becomes the go-to and only strategy students have. It limits their growth and acts as a temporary solution.
For those that aren’t sure how to improve their Chinese grades, they can always enrol in ‘O’ level or PSLE Chinese tuition, where experienced tutors can teach them the ins and outs of the Chinese syllabus. What are you waiting for? Sign up today and see your grades improve in no time at all!