By JAMES KILA
OCCASSIONAL upskilling and training do have a way of rejuvenating the brain and bringing excitement back to a job that seems monotonous and dead.
For teachers, new things learnt not only refresh their memories and add to their knowledge base but means that their students will be better off too.
Teachers at Kusbau Primary School in Madang recently benefitted from a week-long literacy training workshop on jolly phonics and grammar. Teachers of grades three to five hailed the lessons as an eye-opener.
The workshop was conducted by jolly phonics trainer Bonita Amepou, and was the first for Madang.
Phonics is a method of teaching reading and writing through phonemic awareness – the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes – in order to understand the sounds and the spelling patterns (graphemes) that represent them.
The goal of phonics is to enable new readers to decode the written words by sounding them out, or, in phonics terms, blending the sound-spelling patterns.
Jolly phonics was piloted in the National Capital District in 2013 by Dr Joseph Pagelio who was Education Secretary at the time. The results made the jolly phonics approach a part of the school curriculum for grades one and two. Now, it is used in elementary and primary schools and teachers’ colleges.
Phonics has been widely used since the turn of the 20th century in primary education and in literacy teaching throughout the English-speaking world. It is the accepted method of teaching reading in the education systems in the United Kingdom and Australia.
“The jolly phonics workshop was a great privilege for me as a participant, since some of the approaches I learnt may be seen as the missing link to teaching English effectively in the classroom,” grade 5 teacher Pauline Ronald said.
“Teaching English is a major component of the PNG education curriculum, and the emphasis has been on the implementers of the curriculum to make sure that is done.
“However, with the recent changes to the curriculum, teaching and learning English is one major catastrophe that has contributed to the decline in education standard.
“With this on hand, classroom teachers have been trying their best to make sure the English language is learnt effectively.”
The deputy head teacher at Kusbau Primary, Lucy Daniel, said that literary rates in schools are poor because the basics of learning English have not been properly taught at the elementary level. The workshop, she said, has helped the teachers learn how best to help the students in the classroom.
Grade 3 unit supervisor and teacher, Nossie Bauelua, said the workshop was both interesting and fun: “We started off with the letter sounds, their actions and songs. We sang songs and did their actions which will be easier for students to follow and will help them with reading and spelling of words.
“I will actually teach what I’ve learnt from this workshop in my classroom preferably from next week on because I have about three-quarters of my class population who still cannot read or spell, and these are pupils from elementary establishments.”
- James Kila is the public relations officer at Ramu NiCo management (MCC) Ltd.