Language and Organisation – Part 1

This week, lets concentrate on how to improve for the Language and Organisation part.

Our graph this week is pretty interesting. The most interesting part is that it is true! Most students claim that they are late for school because of their parents. Hopefully you are well along your way to helping your child prepare for their examinations. If not, then you are in the right place to get help. It’s not too late yet! In the last article, we taught you how to help your child to improve the Content part of the Continuous Writing section. This will also help with the vocabulary part of the Language and Organisation section.

To emphasise again, in the Language and Organisation component, markers are looking out for grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, paragraphing and linking of ideas and facts. In other words, the more accurate your child is in using English, the higher the mark will be. Before talking about how to improve this section, let’s understand how teachers grade the essay for this section. Most teachers grade essays based on impression. While teachers spot and highlight all the mistakes in an essay, they do not actually count how many mistakes were made and deduct marks based on the number of mistakes made. All marking is based on a mark scheme which will include descriptors that will guide the teachers. The top band’s descriptor will demand that grammar be accurate and sentences have variety. Our advise is to target these two descriptors as there are strategies to help these two components.

It happened in the past

For grammar, we will concentrate only on tenses. This is because it usually forms the large portion of mistakes and is generally the easiest to correct. All of your child’s writing at the Primary School level has been narratives or recounts.  Since all recounts are in the past and narratives are stories that happened in the past, it is easy to use past tense throughout their essay. Therefore, your child needs to write everything in past tense. We know you can use the present tense to make the writing more tense and dramatic. But leave this type of writing to the secondary school students and students who have been scoring A*s since P5. Since we know the story is going to be in the past tense, make sure your child understands the past tense very well. Refresh the grammar rules on past tense with your child. When your child writes essays, ensure that they write in the past tense. The only time other tenses should appear is probably in the dialogue when the characters in the story refer to something in the future. Keep their grammar consistent and their story will flow better, there will be less grammar mistakes and your child will score better for their Language and Organisation. To create awareness, ask your child to take out their old compositions and have them highlight or underline all the past events to check if they have actually used the past tense. You will be surprised, even the best students can be inconsistent. Next, drum into their heads the importance of writing in past tense. Remind them that most of the information and events they write in the essay are about what happened before. Therefore, they need to use past tense.

Take it up a notch

The second thing to take note of is sentences. It is required to write with varied sentences. Unfortunately this is something difficult for students with weak fundamentals. Take your child’s essays. Look out for the sentences that have no or very few mistakes. Ideally they can be joined together easily. Together with your child, join the sentences together, using punctuation or linking words like ‘but’, ‘however’, ‘or’ and so on. Avoid the use of ‘and’ to join sentences together unless it is necessary. If you see your child writing “I looked around me. No one was looking. I decided to take the small parcel lying on the ground.” You can write the sentences on a fresh sheet of paper and get your child to join them together with connecting words. Using the sample given above, I could have rewritten it to look like this: “I looked around but there was nobody around. As nobody was looking, I decided to take the small parcel lying on the ground.” You can see that immediately, three short and simple sentences have been transformed into more sophisticated sentencing. Another good thing about this is that you are helping your child practise his Synthesis and Transformation in Paper 2.

Drum roll

So to summarise, the two things you can do to help your child score is for you to practise: firstly, the use of past tense in writing and secondly, combining sentences together so as to achieve sentence variety. While there are many ways to do what we just described, at RG Channel we have worksheets that are used to guide our students through the thought process. If you would like to see how we do it as reference, we ask that you help us share this with your friends by clicking the share link below.