Fahrenheit 451 English Literature
Studying English Literature In Singapore and Dystopian Novel

Imagine a society where all books are banned and firemen don’t put out fires, instead they are hired to set ablaze houses that contain outlawed books. A world where you have robotic dog-like creatures that go around hunting book hoarders and intellectuals are now drifters who have each memorized books should the day arrive that society comes to an end and is forced to rebuild itself anew.

This is the synopsis of the book Fahrenheit 451. The significance of the book’s infernal title Farenheit 451 is because that is the temperature which papers/books burn. The book is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury, which is one of the texts which secondary schools students can choose to read for O’levels Literature in English (Syllabus 2065).

The current Covid-19 pandemic has been said to be one of the most surreal and scary global disruptions of our time. As we embrace a reality where social distancing is a norm, wearing masks is a daily affair and having PUB’s robotic dog-like creatures prancing around imploring joggers to observe social distancing becomes a common sight. Perhaps having students read dystopian fiction in school is one way to allow them to draw strength from characters of the novel and make sense of this rather unpredictable and volatile world?

Over the years, some Language-Literature students who taking International Baccalaureate are also reading dystopian literature like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Brave New World.’ Exposing students to such genres in unprecedented times like these, may just help them discover another dimension to governmental policies and events happening around them.This is because very often Dystopian fiction explores at least one reason why things are that way, often as an analogy for similar issues in the real world.

Why do writers write Dystopian Literature?

Dystopian literature is used to “provide fresh perspectives on problematic social and political practices that might otherwise be taken for granted or considered natural and inevitable”.

A worldwide decline of Liberal Arts subjects

All over the world, subjects like Literature and English are seeing a sharp decline in enrolment. According to figures from the Ministry of Education (MOE), only about 5,500 students sat for the literature O-level examinations in 2015, down from about 6,000 students in 2012. Liberal Arts education worldwide has seen a sharp decline as governments drive to steer young people away from the arts and humanities to study science, technology, engineering and maths – the so-called Stem subjects, which have become the holy grail of 21st-century education in Singapore and England. Simply put, students just do not see the value of taking English literature and are preferring more practical humanities like International Baccalaureate Business Management, iGCSE Business Studies, Economics and likes.

What are the benefits of learning Literature?

Fahrenheit 451 English Literature

MOE Singapore Literature

Although there are fewer English and English Literature majors, governments do realise (to a certain extent) the value of literature for every student. Literature is still compulsory for lower secondary students in mainstream schools. Similarly. all IP schools like Raffles Girls, ACS, Methodist Girls, Cedars Nanyang Girls, Dunman High et cetera makes Language Arts (a combination of Literature and English) mandatory for the lower secondary students. The Ministry of Education shares that one substantial benefit of having students in Singapore pick up literature is because the study of Literature raises awareness of the range of perspectives that human beings – separated by time, space and culture – are capable of developing. This increased awareness promotes empathy and global awareness. Students become cognisant of and reassess their own values, beliefs and biases.

Is it near impossible to score a distinction for literature?

Mrs Wee, a full time teacher and a former MOE teacher English and Literature at Raffles Institution, recognises the fluidity of all humanities subjects but stresses that there is indeed a formula for getting distinctions. She adds that “It is still very possible to score distinctions for literature, provided that students are guided on the correct strategies and approaches.”

If you need a helping hand for literature tuition or Language Arts and Literature tuition in Singapore, drop us an email here and we will match you with a suitable tutor from our strong bastion of English and Literature tutors. If you are looking for literature notes and handouts, subscribe to our newsletter and you will be the very first to get model essays, notes and more.

Situational Writing

In O’levels English Language Paper 1 (Singapore, Syllabus 1128), you will encounter The Situational Writing in Section B.

Section B:

You will need to write 250–350 words on a given situation which will involve viewing a visual text. The weightage (30 marks) is the same as Section C: Essay. Candidates will need to write a text of 250–350 words based on a given situation which will involve viewing a visual text (e.g. an email, a letter, an article, a report or a speech) to suit the purpose, audience and context.

How to score?

You will be graded according to your content and language. To get the top band for Task Fulfilment, you must show a very good understanding and clear awareness of the PAC (Purpose, Audience and Context).  

To get the top band for Language and Organization, your language must be accurate with hardly any errors in grammar, expression, spelling and punctuation. You must use a variety of vocabulary and sentence structures. 

To really, really shine, stand head and shoulders above your peers, your script must demonstrate a high level of personal engagement and inject your personal voice. Most students are caught in the Average-Marks-Belt because they are unable to differentiate themselves due to a lack of character in their writing or they merely copy or re-hash the points given in the stimulus.

Remember, your ideas and facts must also be well-linked and sequenced, such that the information presented is very clear.

Format:

What are the types of situational writing? 

  1. Formal Letter
  2. Informal Letter 
  3. Proposal
  4. Report
  5. Article / Newsletter
  6. Speech 

1. Understand what are the requirements of the question. 

The first thing you should do for situational writing is to analyse the prompt. A prompt is the brief passage of text (first few paragraphs) in the question paper and the visual stimulus that paints the scenario. Within the prompt, you should identify the PAC and apply the 5Ws brainstorm principle. Ask yourself, who am I writing as? This will help you to get into character (who are your writing as, are you a student leader giving a speech? You need to be mindful of your tone while elaborating on the important points in the prompt. 

Planning:

Identify the writer’s role – What is your role/character?

Format (e.g. formal letter, newsletter, article, proposal, speech, complaint letter, report)

P (What do you hope to accomplish through this speech/article/formal letter/proposal)? 

A (Who are you writing to?)

C (What prompted you to write this letter?)

2) Always refer to the visual stimulus / text given

Pay attention to the details provided, annotate by applying the 5Ws and 1H principle.

3) Structure your proposal

A general rule of thumb, the situational writing (except speech and article) should be divided into 6 body paragraphs in the order of :

Para 1 : Intro:

You should explain what is your objective of writing this and why they are writing it. This will show that they understand the objective and purpose behind the situational writing question.

Para 2 : Point One 

Para 3 : Point Two 

Para 4 : Point Three 

Para 5 : Counterargument + Rebuttal (if necessary) 

Para 6 : Conclusion

-summary of the whole proposal 

-a polite thank you for favourable consideration of your ideas

3) Language

Keep in mind these language tips you write, for a well-rounded and watertight proposal. 

> Write in present tense (predominantly) unless you are citing a past event 

> Be persuasive, respectful and polite. 

> Be clear and precise (describe with details your activity e.g. how you will be conducting the event)

>Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence and connectors to make your writing more fluent and coherent.

Sign up as a member and get the most comprehensive situational writing format guide by school teachers. Click here to download a free preview. 

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secondary school students

Will access to technology help Singaporean students reduce inequality?

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced during a national broadcast on today, June 17 that 

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has plans to fast-forward the plan to equip all secondary school students with their own personal laptop or tablet by next year 2021.

This means all students (regardless of family income) can finally have their own private digital devices where they can access HBL online learning materials, attend online tuition lessons, do research on their tablets, download educational apps and of course, socialise all on their very own devices. 

In recent years, Senior Minister Tharman has often advocated that social mobility has been and is at the heart of Singapore’s ambition and how it is absolutely imperative for the government to do their best to address this concern.

Like most globalised nations, social divisions are part of an unfortunate reality in meritocratic Singapore. On one end of the spectrum, we have some students in Singapore who are trapped in the poverty cycle, struggling with basic needs, living without access to wifi or their own laptop devices. On the moneyed end, we have students in Raffles Institution who flush S$50 and call it ‘our toilet paper’.

secondary school students

Not too long ago, in 2018, Singapore ranked 149 in an Oxfam index where 157 countries are ranked based on their efforts to tackle the gap between the rich and poor. Singapore is just eight ranks ahead of countries like Nigeria (157) and Bhutan (152). 

In his speech, Senior Minister Tharman recognises that due to the Covid-19 crisis, the income inequality has definitely widened. Job and income losses have hit some groups much harder than others. Children without well-off parents are falling behind, with their schooling disrupted and little done to help them. 

Singaporeans spend twice the global average on children’s local education and buying assessment books are one of the expenses that they incurred. 

At The Learning Space, we provide affordable online tuition, quality and free learning materials and test papers to help parents ease their pockets. Subscribe and get the latest updates on sample essays, test papers and more. 

iGCSE and GCE O'Levels

One of the most common questions we get asked by students is what is the difference between IGCSE and GCE O’levels.

The IGCSE goes back to over 30 years ago by Cambridge Assessment International Education. IGCSEs were created to give students overseas access to a similar qualification of the same standard as GCSE. Since then many UK awarding bodies also provide a range of subjects at IGCSE. In Singapore, this is mostly available in International Schools or open to private candidates pursuing iGCSE at private institutions.

Some background information: In Singapore, secondary students (depending on their PSLE results/DSA and background) are able to choose to embark on the following tracks:

1) Integrated Programme (6 years programme gearing towards A’levels)

2)Integrated Programme Pre-IB (6 years programme gearing towards International Baccalaureate Diploma)

3) GCE O’levels (4 years programme leading to a Poly Diploma or A’levels)

4)iGCSE (offered mostly at International schools gearing towards International Baccalaureate Diploma)

So, what exactly is the difference between GCE O’levels and iGCSE?

In Singapore, the IGCSE or International General Certificate for Secondary Education is usually taught at International Schools like Dulwich College, Tanglin Trust School, Hwa Chong International, SJI International, Australian International School, UWC, Canadian International School, and many more. Students are expected to do the exam in Year 10. This was originally found by Cambridge Examinations and is an internationally recognized qualification. When you pass this exam, you are entitled to study for A/AS level or Advanced Level.

Similar to the GCE O’levels, the iGCSE syllabus, requires you to take core subjects like English, a Second Language, Maths, Science, Humanities like Global Perspectives, Economics, Business Studies and electives like Programming, D & T, Arts, Drama, Photography etc (depending on what your school offers)

For O’levels aka Ordinary Levels which is available at all mainstream schools in Singapore, students will take core subjects like English, Mother Tongue, Science, Humanities like Social Studies + Geography, History or Literature. Students can also consider electives subjects like Music, Art, D & T. Business-related subjects are more limited under the GCE O’levels syllabus, the main offerings being Principles of Accounts, Economics and Business Studies (just a mere handful of secondary schools like Outram Secondary and Temasek Secondary offer this.) What is most interesting to note is that seven new subjects, ranging from robotics to sports science, are now available for students on the O- and N-level track. This is certainly great news as it shows that our Ministry of Education is keeping up with the demands of the economy and is working towards giving students a chance for more hands-on learning.

Our team of carefully selected, shortlisted professional tutors and former teachers are available to assist your child in achieving their academic goals. We have tutors who are International Baccalaureate and iGCSE trained tutors, they are familiar with the syllabus requirements and are fully ready to assist.

Some of our tutors are current teachers are currently teaching in local junior colleges, international schools, or former moe-teachers who are very experienced in teaching the GCE O’levels and A’levels.

Let us help you or your children achieve their academic goals. Drop us a note today and tell us what kind of tutors you are looking for. We will definitely be able to help.

O’levels Paper 1

O’levels Paper 1 Student’s Model Essay:

Question: Write about an occasion when an inconsiderate act leads to drastic consequences

“Bang, bang, bang, buzzzzz,” the sound of the relentless pounding of the drill reverberated throughout the walls of my flat. The cacophonous sound had jolted me from my deep slumber. Bleary-eyed, I dragged myself towards the main door, hoping to find out who or what is causing such a din.

I opened my door and was livid to find that the entire common corridor has been filled with tools, wooden planks, stacks of old newspaper and old furniture. A long extension ladder was also placed against the parapet. It turns out that my new neighbour Dashen has been using the common corridor like his own workshop.

“Oh my gosh! Can you please STOP?!” I yelled, my voice shooting up 50 octaves, my eyes flashing angrily.

“Why are you making so much noise so early in the morning? Don’t you know you cannot block the common corridor? You are obstructing everyone. This is very inconsiderate!” I hollered again. Rage gripping me and anger flooding through my veins.

Dashen darted me a baleful look, flicked his cigarette, turned his head, walked back into his flat, ignoring me completely.

At this point, I could feel a vein popped out in my neck, my jaw thrust forward with indignation. I stomped back to my room to put on some proper clothing so that I can confront him.

Suddenly, an acrid smell hit my nostrils. It was smoky campfire-ish smell. I raced to the front door only to find thick gray smoke billowing in. Like a monstrous beast, it wolfed everything in its way. Nothing was spared. Flames ripped across the ceiling as if they had been shot from a flamethrower. At the corner of my eyes, I caught a glimpse of a burning cigarette that landed on the pile of newspaper.

 

Immediately, everything clicked.

Our inconsiderate new neighbour, Dashen, must have flung his cigarette onto the newspapers that he had left outside. The cigarette must have stabbed into a tottering stack of cardboard boxes intermixed with old newspapers and an old cabinet that was missing a leg. The suffocating smoke jolted me to my senses. I quickly reached for my phone and dialled 995. As I put down the phone, a thought struck me like lightning. Oh no! I have to alert Auntie Wong, our recently widowed, octogenarian neighbour who is living alone. I knocked furiously and frantically at her door. Just as I thought, she was home and had just woken up too.

“We have to get out of here! There is a fire!” I bellowed. Mrs Wong was hyperventilating. I took her hand and helped her out of her flat. There was choking smoke, so black and thick that it seemed you could grab it by the handful. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard a lot sound. Crack! Thud! The ladder that Dashen left outside the corridor had fallen, landing on Mrs Wong’s left leg. Gasping for breath, I mustered all my strength and pushed the ladder away, almost tripping over the debris. I picked the frail Mrs Wong up and carried her down the stairs. Just as we were able to go down the stairs, a loud boom echoed behind me and we were hurled forward. At this point, the firemen had arrived and managed to bring the both of us to safety.

After battling with the fire for close to four hours, the fire was finally extinguished. The police had also arrived and told us that there some flammable substances such as cleaning agents and electronic items in the old cabinet that Dashen had left outside the corridor. Dashen was also questioned by the authorities and the police took him away to assist with further investigation.

Dashen’s terribly selfish, horribly reckless act endangered everyone. Lives could have been lost because of such thoughtless act and careless oversights. Dashen’s inconsiderate act has started a disastrous fire which took have taken a heavy toll on innocent lives.

What exactly do examiners look for in a well written narrative or personal recount essay?

Content: Students need a well-organized story will have all three parts, and the ideas will be presented in a clear and logical way. Your story must be credible and not too far-fetched.

Language: To get The paragraphs will be set appropriately, with colons and semicolons used as they should, and the ideas presented should be easy to connect and understand, making it a smooth read for the reader.

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live without our smart phones

 

Do you know that the average Singaporean spend over 12 hours on their gadgets daily?

There is no other contraption in the world today that is more indispensable to our lives than the smartphone. While it was previously just a means of voice communication, a (frowned-upon) appendage for the selfie narcissists, the mobile phone is now ever more instrumental to our lives, particularly so in this post-covid world where social distancing and telecommuting has become the norm.

According to a research report by consultancy Ernst & Young, nearly 80 percent of the 1,000 Singaporeans they interviewed on mobile usage shared that they check their phones before and after sleeping. Our dependency on our smartphone has been further accelerated by the current pandemic.

To avoid catching the insidious bug, we contact trace with our phones. When confined at home, we isolate ourselves from others and swipe left on our phones hoping to meet some virtual Mr or Miss Right for companionship. To protect ourselves and prevent germs from spreading, we pay with our phones. The Singapore government is on a fervent digital frenzy to get all their hawkers to jump on the Smart Nation bandwagon, extending a Hawker’s Productivity Grant capped at $5000 over three years just so that Hawkers can all be ready to accept digital payments in time for the fourth industrial revolution. According to CNBC, it is expected that nearly three quarters of the world will use just their smartphones by 2025.

Of course, with the increasing popularity of mobile phones among people comes the sharply contested debate as to whether or not we can live without our phones. Are we becoming slaves to our devices? While there is a valid case to be argued that cell phones are evidently addictive and can lead to possible anti-social behaviours and even social disorientation. Some pundits have even coined the phrase “Nomophobia” an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia” to describe a condition where people have an extreme dependency on their phones and develop anxiety when they cannot use their phones.

Even our last line of defence, our seniors have fallen prey to the cell phone. The silver generation previously heralded as the naysayers of mobile phones and social media have become new converts of the technology. Under the circuit breaker, some seniors have been embracing technology that was previously unfamiliar to them and they are bonding with their loved ones through their phones. According to IMDA, 76 percent of seniors in Singapore in 2019, a significant leap from just 18 percent in 2013.

Will we ever be freed from the clutches of that alluring glass body with OLED display and facial recognition? Wait, let me Google it on my phone.

This essay is written by Young Writers of The Learning Space. For more O’levels and A’levels model essays, sign up for our membership and you will receive a special Welcome Package with compliments.

English O’levels Oral

 

English O’levels Oral Examination is the first paper that O’levels candidates will encounter (ironically, it is actually known as Paper 4) in their journey towards conquering the O’levels.

Oral Communication takes up 30 marks and last for a mere 20 minutes (including 10 minutes of preparation time). This year is the first year where the format has changed to a video-based stimulus as opposed to a picture-based stimulus.

Candidates will first read aloud a short text presented on a computer screen. After which, candidate will move on to the spoken interaction section where he or she will answer three questions which are thematically linked to the the earlier passage. The entire oral examination for all O’levels candidate takes place across 10 Days. The theme for each day will be rotated, so Day One could be Heritage/ Culture related question, while Day Two could be Technology.

Part One: Reading Out loud

The text may be a short narrative, news report, speech, or an announcement, or a mixture of types and forms. Candidates are assessed on their ability to accurately pronounce and clearly articulate the words in the text, and read fluently and expressively, showing an awareness of purpose, audience and context.

How do you do very well for Oral?

 

 

Photo from source

It is imperative to note that when candidates are reading the passage, they must read it engagingly. A speech should sound like a speech, it should stir some emotions and not be just a monotonous regurgitation of verbatim.

2020 Schedule for English Paper Subject Code 1128

12 August 2020 to 26 August 2020 (Exams will be conducted in shifts)

Get in touch with our strong team of ex MOE Teachers and let them work with you towards success. Our tutors are available just a few clicks away, you can simply send us a request and we can link you up for a virtual online tuition session in a heartbeat.

 

 

 

How to write a descriptive essay

How to write descriptive essay | On June 2 2020, Singapore will mark the end of the Covid-19 circuit breaker. During this period of semi-lockdown, many Singaporeans witnessed a series of rainbow sightings. Eleanor Sim, a Secondary Four student taking her national exam this year, has this to share after attending our e-learning “O’levels Paper 1: The Essay Writing Workshop”

Rainbows are fascinating.

Rainbows are such a rare sighting, especially in our densely packed metropolis overcrowded with nondescript HDB flats and characterless skyscrapers. With this circuit breaker upon us, we are unwittingly ‘incarcerated’ within the confines of our apartments. Our spirits are down. The ever escalating numbers of Covid-19 cases and the growing number of clusters keep us on tenterhooks.

Being indoors most of the time, cabin fever is creeping upon me. I miss the outdoors too much. I miss the smell of the morning dew. I miss the fragrance of freshly cut grass. This evening, I promised myself to take a short run around the blocks. Just as I was about to head home after the run, I noticed a rainbow swirl appearing across the sky.

The sighting of a rainbow has long been believed to be a promise of good things to come. When I saw a rainbow, that brilliant arch casted upon the dusky sky, I felt such bliss.

The awe-inspiring rainbow stood out distinctively against the hues of pink and orange cotton-candy clouds. Such simple joy. It is so remarkable that such simple pleasures like this can bring us spurs of euphoria in such a gloomy semi-lockdown period where everything seems to have come to a standstill. The rainbow seems to remind us that there is hope. It is a gleaning hope of a brighter time once the pandemic storm passes.

Want to gain a better mastery of the English language? Join our online classes for O’levels and secondary students today or email us to engage a private tutor that will work with you towards your success. Sign up for classes with The Learning Space and may you pass your exams with flying colours.