April 2013

TOEFL® Junior help guide Wai Chow Public School students to elite secondary schools

Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui) primary 5-6 students took part in the TOEFL® Junior test in April 2013. Students performed well in the TOEFL® Junior test, as most of their scores ranged from 745-800 out of a total of 900. We are pleased to invite the English teachers Ms Isis Ng and Ms Christy Wong, the school’s Native English Teacher Mr. Stephen Cairns and four outstanding students to share the test strategies of the TOEFL® Junior test and their school lives.

A variety of question types

We interviewed four students from primary 6 who all scored above 745, which are equivalent to level B1 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). They all felt that the TOEFL® Junior test was more difficult than the school exams. Yam Suet In, Ivy, from 6A class told us that test questions in school exams were mostly based on the school’s curriculum, whereas the content of the TOEFL® Junior test was more diversified and covered various topics as it is an international examination. Chan Chun Man, Ken, and Chan Wai Chung, John, are from class 6E. They shared that the Listening Comprehension section was the most difficult part in the TOEFL® Junior test. “All the scenarios were about school life. The speakers in the test spoke very fast, I had to answer the questions quickly.” said John. Lee Chun Yin, Elvis, from class 6D scored high in the Listening Comprehension section. He shared his study tips with us, “It is important to practise English in our daily lives. Apart from the knowledge that we have learnt at school, we can also practise English at home. My favourite TV programmes are cookery programmes. I like them because I can learn new vocabulary items from the programmes while I watch TV. Also, I can enhance my listening skills through watching English TV channels.”

(from left to right)
Ken Chan and Ivy Yam, class 6A

“I read English newspaper every day but the vocabularies are too difficult for me. I read the Chinese newspaper then the English one in order to learn more vocabularies and improve my English writing skills,” said Ivy Yam.
Ken Chan told us that his parents encouraged him to take the TOEFL® Junior test as it could measure his English performance in an objective way.

Mr. Stephen Cairns, the Native English Teacher from Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui)

Mr. Cairns expressed that students should be active when learning a new language. They should enjoy the process of learning.
Active learning, be competitive

Mr. Stephen Cairns, the Native English Teacher of Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui) has been teaching English in Hong Kong for many years. He felt that students should be given more opportunities to learn English at schools. Students could learn English outside schools as well, such as: listening to English songs on the Internet, borrowing English books from the library, or watching English TV programmes at home etc. “Anything that is related to English, students should try their best to learn,” said Mr. Cairns.

No more “Chinglish”

Mr. Cairns noticed that Hong Kong students have the tendency to translate Chinese directly to English and they often find it hard to understand the sentence structure and grammar. “Students need to enjoy learning English at a young age. My lessons are fun and interactive. I organize motivating activities for students to encourage them to engage in English lessons,” said Mr. Cairns. “Many students think that English is difficult to learn. Their English would definitely improve if they are willing to practise. Hong Kong students do not have many chances to practise English at home, so I will design more speaking activities to improve their speaking skills,” he continued.

Christmas singing contest

Understanding students’ strengths and weaknesses

The English teachers of Wai Chow Public School (Sheung Shui), Ms Isis Ng and Ms Christy Wong told us that primary 5-6 students needed to be prepared for the School’s Internal Assessment at school. International examinations offer an objective report for teachers to evaluate students’ English proficiency. The TOEFL® Junior test is designed for students aged 11-15. Its score report helps students identify their strengths and areas that need improvement. “For those who scored high at school, they are encouraged to take the “Smart Kids Course” to further improve their English. In addition, our school organizes many English activities, for example, Tongue Twister Competition, Christmas Singing Contest and Halloween Costume Show, etc. The main purpose of organizing these activities is to motivate students to learn English and to enrich their school lives,” said Ms Ng.

Halloween Costume Show

(from left to right) Elvis Lee from class 6D and John Chan from class 6E

John Chan shared his study tips “Watching English movies without subtitles can help us understand the way native speakers speak.”
Elvis Lee said “Reading different kinds of books help me build up reading skills while watching English TV programmes can help improve my listening skills.”
Proficiency in English help guide students to elite secondary schools

All four P.6 students agree that an international English exam certificate gives them an advantage in the Secondary School Places Allocation System. Students need to be well equipped if they want to enter an elite secondary school. “I will provide the school interviewers with a TOEFL® Junior certificate to demonstrate my English proficiency,” said Elvis. “TOEFL® Junior can be my passport to more elite secondary schools,” he continued.