PSLE Oral Reading Aloud Tips

By Mrs Elaine Loh

It’s the June school holiday and from here on, things will be moving pretty quickly for pupils sitting for the PSLE. Today, I will be giving you tips for the reading aloud component of the PSLE Oral exam which is applicable for children in the other levels as well.

The reading aloud component is the most overlooked component in the PSLE oral exam. Many parents encourage their children to practise the Stimulus-based Oral component more than the reading one since the reading aloud component carries just a third of the total oral grade. This wrong view can prove costly because the reading aloud component is the one where a child can hope to score the full mark easily if he knows what the examiner is looking out for. So what exactly are the examiners looking out for?

Put simply, the examiner is looking out for the following things:

  1. Well-paced and fluent reading. This means reading the passage smoothly and clearly.
  2. Accurate pronunciation and good intonation when reading in order to convey the right information, ideas and feelings in the passage.

So, before you get your child to practise reading aloud to you, here are some tips on how you can help him achieve what the examiner will be looking out for.

Tips for focusing on fluency and pace

1. Read in MEANINGFUL PHRASES not word by word!

Many children tend to have the bad habit of reading a passage aloud word by word. They make an exaggerated attempt to pronounce every word clearly so much so that the reading of the passage becomes extremely jerky. To read fluently, you should encourage your child to practise reading passages at home in meaningful phrases. To teach your child how to read in meaningful phrases, lets look at the short passage below:

Lily / was at / the supermarket / with her mother / for their weekly / grocery shopping. // First, / they went / to the dairy section / where Lily took / one bottle of / chocolate milk / from the shelf. // She also took / a packet of cheese / and put it / in the trolley. // Then, / they headed / to the vegetable section / where they / grabbed some broccoli, / carrots, / potatoes and cauliflower.//

You can get your child to read in phrases by putting a single slash (/) to indicate a short pause and a double slash (//) to indicate a longer pause. This is important in helping your child read in phrases to achieve fluency. It is also the reason why teachers in school tell pupils not to point when they read.

2. Linking Words within phrases.

Within each phrase, if one word ends with a consonant and the next word starts with a vowel (a , e, i , o & u), read the words in such a way that the consonant links to the vowel of the next word without any break. The line (___) links the consonant to the vowel.

For example: My father / told us / to get into / the car.

Let’s look at how your child could have linked up the words in the previous passage we looked at:

Lily / was at / the supermarket / with her mother / for their weekly / grocery shopping. // First, / they went / to the dairy section / where Lily took / one bottle of / chocolate milk / from the shelf. // She also took / a packet of cheese / and put it / in the trolley. // Then, / they headed / to the vegetable section / where they / grabbed some broccoli, / carrots, / potatoes and cauliflower.//

PSLE Oral

TIPS FOR PRONOUNCING AND ARTICULATING WORDS CLEARLY AND ACCURATELY

To encourage your child to pronounce his words clearly and accurately, he needs to:

1. Pronounce the consonants at the end of each word clearly.

e.g. desk

showed

present

rug

2. Pronounce long and short vowels differently.

e.g. ship vs sheep.

sit vs seat

this vs these

live vs leave

fit vs feet

hit vs heat

3. Practise the ‘th’ sound!

Many children trip up when they have to pronounceth’. Many pronounce ‘th’ as ‘t’ or ‘d’. To pronounce ‘th’ well, one needs to place one’s tongue lightly behind one’s top front teeth. Get your child to pronounce as many words that you can think of that start with ‘th’ or have ‘th’ in the middle or at the end of a word.

e.g. thought

think

thirteen

thirsty

thermometer

thick

thorn

thumb

weather

feather

rather

father

wealth

health

myth

filth

4. Practise the tricky words in English.

e.g. ‘gasp’ (wrong pronunciation X ‘gups’)

‘mischievous’ (wrong pronunciation X ‘mis  che vee ers’)

‘yacht’ ( wrong pronunciation X ‘yuch’)        

Always encourage your child to look the word up in a dictionary if he is in doubt. Electronic dictionaries have the added advantage of letting him hear how a word sounds at the click of a button.

TIPS FOR READING WITH EXPRESSION

Intonation is what makes a story interesting when you listen to it. Put simply, this means your child needs to read with good expression and inject feelings into his reading. This also means that your child’s voice must go up and down. BUT WAIT! Intonation must sound natural! His voice must not sound monotonous like a robot but neither must it have an exaggerated sing-song note to it.

So, what’s the key thing your child should be focusing on when attempting to read with expression? Your child should be focusing on the direct speeches in the passage. This is when someone in the story says something within speech marks. Always look carefully at the punctuation and the dialogue tag. The dialogue tag tells you how someone has said something. Below is an example:

PSLE Oral

In the above example, the dialogue tag tells us that the man is saying something angrily. The exclamation mark also tells us that the word ‘Now!’ should be read more strongly and with greater emphasis.

Last but not least, your child should always read at a pace that is appropriate. Remind your child to breathe! Many children in their anxiety forget to breathe at appropriate pauses in the text and find themselves running out of breath. Others, rush through their reading as if they are catching a train. In my last blogpost, I talked about how nerves and anxiety can reduce the examination performance of your child so practising under non-examination conditions is always helpful. The more practice your child gets reading aloud before the PSLE Oral examination, the more confident he will be.

HERE’S WHERE YOUR CHILD’S OR YOUR MOBILE PHONE CAN COME IN HANDY!

PSLE Oral

I always encourage my pupils to practise reading passages at home into a mobile phone or recording device. Getting your child to record his reading and then playing it back for him to hear how he sounded, is a great way for him to self-evaluate what aspects of his reading he needs to improve on. Younger children especially, love to hear the sound of their own voice and the long school holiday can be a good time to get them practising reading aloud from a young age.

I do hope that you and your child have found the above tips to be useful. For added practice, do click on the button  below to download a few tongue twisters to practise on. Tongue twisters are a great way to help your child focus on his pronunciation and they are a whole load of fun to read aloud together. Happy practising!

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