Creating Conflicts for Creative Writing in Primary School

For our third tip, we are going to concentrate on writing a good story. This is important because good stories score well for content. How can we create great stories? The key to writing great stories is to create a strong “problem” or “conflict” so that the intense reaction of the main character may be explored before it is resolved as part of the story. In other words, creating conflicts is key to writing an excellent story.

Creating Conflicts

In classical Literature, experts have divided conflicts into different types. One common conflict type is “Man vs. Man”. It basically means that the conflict arises because two (or more) people want different things. In the case of of an essay with the theme of “the secret”, the conflict could be based on how one person has discovered another person’s secret and wants to reveal it to other people. Thus, this creates an interesting conflict in which the main character(s) in the story have to try to stop this person.

Yet another type of conflict is “Man vs. Self”. In this case, the main character has to overcome a personal, usually inner, struggle. For example, if the main character keeps the secret, somebody might be harmed. However, revealing the secret will cause him pain in some form. Thus, the main character struggles with himself whether to keep the secret or not.

There are other types of conflicts. However, we will not go into details as they tend to be more difficult to construct a story around these conflicts due to the lack of time in an exam situation. If you are interested, you can go here for a simple and concise explanation of creating conflicts.

Creating Conflicts

Four Types of Conflict

In the meantime, remember to read keeping checking our blog for more advice on writing. Also, remember to ‘like’ our FB page for more news and other important information.

This is Part 3 of a 12 Part series. To go back to the index, please click here.

Creative Writing for Primary School: Focus on the Theme

Focus on Theme

In any piece of writing, we need to have a theme and ensure that we focus on the theme closely. Therefore, for this post, we are going to delve into the topic of the themes of the PSLE continuous writing section, and how we can focus on the theme to write better.

A bit of background first. In the old syllabus, the continuous writing question focuses on topics. However, in the new continuous writing format for PSLE, the question is based on a theme rather than a narrower topic. Hence, it is important to have an undivided focus on the theme throughout the essay.

Focus on the Theme

How can we achieve this? Let us look at the 2016 PSLE as an example. The theme for continuous writing is “the secret”. Firstly, your child needs to understand that a secret means something which is kept hidden from one or more persons. The essay therefore needs to focus on this – which character or characters are kept in the dark.

As the story progresses, the focus on the theme must always be kept in mind. Think about how the theme affects the main characters. Also, think about whether the premise changes at the end of the story. For example, in the case of “the secret”, the end result could be that the secret is still kept or that it is finally revealed. We will explore more about creating conflicts and developing plots latter in our series.

To ensure that your child does not go out of theme, ask your child to check at the end of each paragraph if it still focuses around the theme. By doing so, you can be assured that there is focus on the theme.

Remember, keeping your child’s writing with the theme in mind is key to scoring good marks. No matter how good your child’s language is, going out of theme is going to have a big impact on his marks.

Remember to read keeping checking our blog for more advice on writing. Also, remember to ‘like’ our FB page for more news and other important information.

In our next blog, we will be talking about how to create conflicts, develop plots as well as improve their writing. Look out for it!

Focus on the theme

Follow One Course Until Successful

12 Tips to improve your child’s Creative Writing!

creative writing

A couple of months ago, we posted a set of creative writing tips together with our marketing partner, LearnSuperMart.  However, they were edited for a Facebook audience and some details had to be left out. Some parents have asked us for the version that has the full details. Hence, we are pleased to present the full set for your reading pleasure.

We hope that with this full set, you’ll be able to understand the requirements of the continuous writing component of Paper 1, and help your child understand how to tweak his writing to ensure the requirements are met. With these tips, we are confident that your child will be able to improve on his creative writing. At the same time, please check our webpage every now and then for more information and tips. If you prefer frequent and bite-size tips, do like our Facebook Page.

Introduction to this Creative Writing series

The first three tips of this series will focus on helping your child prepare for writing. Before your child starts writing, it is important that he reads and understands the question before proceeding. He needs to brainstorm for ideas, ensuring that his story answers the question and engages the reader. As such, we will be discussing how your child can stick to the theme of the essay question and suggest different ways to generate ideas. Most important, we will be teaching how to give your child’s essay an overarching emotional tone that will help his essay stand out.

After that, we will focus on some techniques of writing – from writing about emotions to improving the climax and coming out with fantastic conclusions.  We are confident that these techniques will help your child develop his writing and help him score better in the next essay he writes.

Finally, we will a little technical and focus on how to improve your child’s language by focusing on varying sentences. As a bonus, we are also going to touch on the marking rubrics as well as common marking comments that may help you understand how your child’s teacher marks.

There is just one more thing we would like you to read before you forge ahead with this series. Please download the PSLE English syllabus. It will be most helpful to you to understand these tips. The English syllabus can be found here.

  1. Focus on the theme
  2. Creating conflicts
  3. Controlling your emotions
  4. (I)nner Sensations
  5. (D)ialogue
  6. (E)motional Expressions
  7. (A)ctions
  8. Stretching the Tension
  9. A Perfect ending?
  10. Varying Sentences I
  11. Varying Sentences II
  12. Understanding your teacher’s marking

Without further ado, let us proceed to the series!

Congratulations to our Primary Six students

Best of luck to our Primary Six students

Congratulations to our Primary Six students

It takes a lot of tender loving care to guide a child to achieve good grades for his studies. I am pleased to congratulate our students for achieving great results. Best of luck!

English Academic Language for All Round Academic Excellence

Academic Language

Mastery of English, especially English academic language, is a necessity for continued advancement in the Singapore education system. English is a compulsory component for all levels, and thus, students need to do well to move on to the next stage.

Unfortunately, English is not a simple language to master. Grammar seems arbitrary and words used in different contexts and different subjects have different meanings. I will highlight just two primary school subjects below though this idea permutes through all subjects taught in English.

Mathematics: Academic Language

One subject where English has some influence is Mathematics. I am sure most parents are already aware of this. However, this is an important point, and I would like to emphasise it. For problem sums, it is not only important to know the models or methods for solving it, but also equally important for the student to understand the English language behind it so that he can understand what the sum is asking for. Needless to say, being weak in English can stop a student with superior mathematical ability from scoring distinctions.

Science: Academic Language

Similarly, English and Science are inseparable. There has been a huge debate about the role of English in Primary school Science. There seems to be a gap between the use of scientific words and the actual meaning of the English word. However, I believe that this is not the case. For example, in explaining how a balloon fills up with air, a student might choose the word ‘expanded’ instead of ‘inflated’. The correct word required might seem a distinction made only for scientific reasons. However, if you check the dictionary, to inflate means “fill (something) with air or gas, so it becomes distended”, while to expand means “become larger or more extensive”. Therefore, inflate is a better choice than expand. Hence the word ‘expand’ is not accepted. This shows that a grasp of excellent English increases the chance of excellence in one’s Science grades.

Certainly teachers do give definitions for these words when they teach these topics. However, we must agree that it is not as simple as just giving the definition. Moreover, in trying to get the students to relate to the subject matter, the teacher might use plain everyday English to get the point across. This might be the reason some students end up answering questions in a very general way rather than in a way that demonstrates their mastery of the content.

How can parents help?

One key concept that we need to learn is to help our children master and use academic language. What is academic language? Academic language is the language used in textbooks and on tests. It is different in structure and vocabulary from the everyday spoken English. Just because a student speaks English well does not mean it will be easy for them to pick up academic language. Academic language becomes harder as the student moves up the levels. Some examples of academic language include alliteration in language arts, ratios in mathematics and atoms in science. If we can help our children to learn academic language, they will benefit in English and other subjects.

Some tips for improving academic language

1. Reading about the same topic in different genres is a great way of learning academic language. There are many story books on Math and getting children to read them before reading the related textbooks or notes would not only interest the children but help them learn.

2. Drill children into the habit of underlining key instructional words, as these are also part of academic language. Ask children to underline the keywords of a textbook or a complex question. Get them to think about exactly what that word is asking them to do.

3. Get children to translate the textbook or academic subject into plain English or get them to explain a concept or topic in academic language. This strategy works extremely well for Science, as the students have to be careful of the words they choose.


English is certainly one of the keys to academic success, not only in terms of its importance as a subject but also its significance to other subjects. Therefore, it is important to find English teachers who are aware of this aspect. It is also equally important to find Mathematics and Science teachers who are committed to explaining the terms of the language of their respective disciplines.

Does your child hate reading?

The simple reason why children hate reading is usually because they are weak at reading.

Children are just like us – we tend to avoid tasks that we are weak in. For example, if we find exercising a chore, it is usually because we are unfit in the first place. Conversely, people tend to do what they do best. For example, when people choose what courses to enrol in for higher education, they tend to choose the subjects they scored the highest grade in.

Read More…

Aligning the English Syllabus

In 2013, there was a English syllabus change for the GCE ‘O’ level examinations. There was much discussion in the educational sector about this and many people, including us, have written about the changes. During that time, there was limited information on the syllabus and teachers in national schools were still attending courses to learn about it.

It has been two years, and two papers are now available for reference. I shall analyse both papers so that parents are better informed on the differences between the new and old English syllabuses. After all, it was previously just theory, and now we can see how it is applied in the actual examinations.

Read More…

How to improve your child’s vocabulary: Part Two

In the second part of the article, we are going to explain some other knowledge your child needs to be familiar with.

In our previous article on vocabulary, we discussed how many different pieces of knowledge your child needs to know to master a word. We talked about the essentials like how the child needs to know the definition, spelling, pronunciation and part of speech. Now we continue by explaining how understanding word families and synonyms can also help in building up his vocabulary. Let us now continue on.

Read More…

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s contribution to English

This post is a little special. Instead of talking about the English language or technology in education, I am going to talk about Lee Kuan Yew.

It is not a tribute because I am not going to jump on the bandwagon of the hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, that speak glowingly of his achievements. That is something that most Singaporeans recognise. His immense drive and vision have brought Singapore to where it is now. Let us not trivialise his achievement.

Instead, what I am going to talk about is his contribution to how English has thrived in Singapore. Read More…