The STELLAR program is a way of teaching English in primary schools in Singapore. It helps students learn English better by using stories, grammar lessons, and fun activities. It focuses on making sure students understand and enjoy learning the language.
For younger students, STELLAR uses big books with interesting stories and activities, where they can learn grammar, vocabulary, and writing. For older students, it has different methods, like reading together with the teacher, learning about new topics, and retelling stories.
The goal of STELLAR is to make English learning enjoyable and to help students become better at speaking, writing, and understanding English. This way, they’ll be more prepared for exams and future studies.
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The Strategies Effective English Learning in Primary School (STELLAR) program is a comprehensive approach to teaching English in Singapore’s primary schools, providing instructional materials and teaching strategies that facilitate the implementation of the English language syllabus. STELLAR focuses on a balanced instruction of language skills, including grammar, phonics, and the use of age-appropriate children’s stories, catering to a diverse range of English learners.
Through a contextualized approach to English learning and systematic grammar instruction, STELLAR uses children’s stories and articles to develop foundational skills in grammar and vocabulary while engaging and stretching children’s imagination. The program offers opportunities for extensive speaking, discussion, and sharing of views, building confidence in speech and writing, and enhancing language learning.
In lower primary, STELLAR employs strategies such as the Shared Book Approach and Modified Language Experience Approach, involving shared experiences, class writing, group writing, individual writing, and cooperative learning. Holistic language learning activities, alongside explicit phonics, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation instruction, are integrated throughout the curriculum.
Upper primary strategies include Supported Reading, Know-Want to know-Learn, and Retelling, which serve as reading comprehension strategies that engage pupils at different levels of language and promote the application of major language skills in making meaning of texts and sharing understanding with peers.
STELLAR’s distinctive English learning programs foster a love of learning, incorporating diverse teaching methods, nurturing enthusiasm for language acquisition, understanding unique learner characteristics, and promoting learner-centered classrooms. The program sets clear language goals, integrates theory with practice, builds learner motivation, and addresses the needs of English learners from different backgrounds through culturally responsive teaching practices.
Active student participation is emphasized, employing the four principles of instruction to enhance comprehension, promote student-to-student interaction, foster higher-order thinking and learning strategies, and connect with students’ background knowledge. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) Model is utilized to create inclusive learning environments, addressing challenges in language learning strategy research and developing effective language learning strategies.
STELLAR cultivates a strong foundation in grammar and vocabulary, provides extensive opportunities for verbal communication, encourages cooperative learning in mixed-ability groups, and weaves holistic and targeted language practice. Supported Reading is used for narrative and informational texts, Know-Want to know-Learn for non-fiction texts, and Retelling as a reading comprehension strategy. This comprehensive approach to English language learning in primary schools ensures students are well-prepared for future academic success.
In today’s rapidly globalizing world, English language proficiency has become increasingly vital for students to excel academically and professionally. Singapore, being a multilingual and multicultural country, has recognized the significance of English language education and has implemented a specialized curriculum known as STELLAR, which stands for Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading. This comprehensive program is designed to cater to the unique needs of primary school students in Singapore, equipping them with the necessary language skills and strategies to succeed in their educational journey.
At the core of STELLAR lies its purpose to provide a solid foundation in English language learning for primary school students in Singapore. With its innovative teaching strategies and engaging learning materials, STELLAR aims to create an enjoyable and effective language learning experience for young learners. By focusing on age-appropriate children’s stories and contextualized language instruction, the program ensures that students develop strong language skills while nurturing a love for reading and learning.
One of the critical milestones in Singapore’s primary education system is the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), which serves as a pivotal assessment for students’ progress and readiness for secondary education. STELLAR plays an indispensable role in preparing students for the PSLE, as it equips them with essential language skills and strategies that are crucial for success in the examination. By incorporating the STELLAR program into the primary school curriculum, Singapore’s education system ensures that students receive a well-rounded English language education that not only prepares them for the PSLE but also sets the stage for lifelong learning and success in their future endeavors.
II. STELLAR in Lower Primary: Fostering Language Development through the Shared Book Approach (SBA)
A. The Shared Book Approach (SBA) as a Central Component of STELLAR in Lower Primary Education
- Introducing and sharing a Big Book with pupils: A fundamental aspect of the SBA involves the teacher introducing and sharing a Big Book with the students. These Big Books are carefully chosen, age-appropriate, and engaging, capturing the interest of young learners and encouraging their enthusiasm for reading. The larger format of the books allows for easy visibility and a shared reading experience, promoting a sense of community within the classroom.
- Explicit teaching of language items, structures, and skills: Following the introduction and sharing of the Big Book, the teacher moves on to the explicit teaching of various language items, structures, and skills. This involves a clear, structured, and systematic approach to language instruction, ensuring that students grasp the essential elements of the English language. The teacher may focus on aspects such as grammar, phonics, vocabulary, sentence structure, and punctuation, providing students with a strong foundation in the building blocks of language.
- Follow-up activities for reinforcement and application: To solidify the language concepts and skills introduced during the SBA, the teacher incorporates a variety of follow-up activities tailored to the students’ learning needs. These activities are designed to reinforce and further develop the language skills that students have acquired through the Shared Book Approach. Examples of follow-up activities include drama, art and craft, group discussions, and writing exercises, which allow students to apply their newfound knowledge and skills in engaging, hands-on ways.
By utilizing the Shared Book Approach within the STELLAR program, lower primary students are provided with an engaging, supportive, and effective learning environment that encourages the development of essential English language skills. This approach not only fosters a love for reading and learning among young students, but also lays the groundwork for their future success in the Primary School Leaving Examination and beyond.
B. The Modified Language Experience Approach (MLEA): A Comprehensive Method for Lower Primary English Instruction
- Shared experience linked to Big Book: The MLEA is an essential component of the STELLAR program, as it builds upon the Shared Book Approach (SBA) and further enhances language learning in lower primary classrooms. The MLEA incorporates a shared experience that is directly linked to the Big Book that has been read during Shared Reading. This shared experience serves as a contextual basis for students to think and talk about the target language structures and vocabulary that they have encountered during the SBA, allowing for a more meaningful and engaging learning experience.
- Contextualized language learning: By connecting the shared experience with the Big Book, the MLEA promotes a contextualized approach to language learning. This approach emphasizes the importance of situating language instruction within real-life experiences and contexts, enabling students to more effectively comprehend and apply their language skills. Through the MLEA, students are exposed to a wide range of language structures and vocabulary, leading to a deeper understanding of the English language.
- Class, group, and individual writing activities: The MLEA includes a variety of writing activities that involve the entire class, smaller groups, and individual students. Initially, the teacher facilitates a class writing exercise, transcribing the children’s input and creating a collective piece of writing. Following the class writing activity, students engage in group writing exercises, working in small, mixed-ability groups to further develop their writing skills. Finally, students progress to individual writing tasks, applying the language skills they have acquired through the MLEA and demonstrating their independent language abilities.
C. Holistic and Targeted Language Activities: Fostering a Well-Rounded Approach to English Learning
- Speech and drama, phonics, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation: The STELLAR program recognizes the importance of providing a comprehensive and well-rounded approach to English instruction. To achieve this, the program incorporates both holistic and targeted language activities that address various aspects of language learning. Holistic activities, such as shared reading and speech and drama, focus on the overall language experience, while targeted activities concentrate on specific language components, such as phonics, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and punctuation.
- Weaving between ‘whole’ and ‘parts’ in English learning: The STELLAR program emphasizes the need to balance holistic and targeted language activities, weaving seamlessly between the ‘whole’ and ‘parts’ of the English language. This approach ensures that students receive a well-rounded education in English, fostering a deep understanding of the language as well as the ability to apply their language skills effectively in various contexts. By striking a balance between holistic and targeted activities, the STELLAR program promotes a comprehensive and engaging learning experience that prepares students for success in their Primary School Leaving Examination and beyond.
III. The STELLAR Program in Upper Primary: Advanced Language Learning Strategies for Continued Success
A. Supported Reading (SR): A Comprehensive Strategy for Developing Independent Reading Skills
- Bridging between teacher-directed reading and independent reading: In upper primary education, the STELLAR program introduces Supported Reading (SR) as a means of promoting the transition from teacher-directed reading activities to independent reading among students. The SR approach serves as a critical bridge between the two, ensuring that students gradually develop the skills and confidence necessary to read and comprehend texts independently. By incorporating SR, the STELLAR program fosters a sense of autonomy and responsibility in students’ reading habits, setting them up for continued success in their English language learning journey.
- Predictions, discussions, and vocabulary development: Supported Reading offers a wide range of opportunities for students to actively engage with texts, encouraging them to make predictions, participate in class discussions, and develop their vocabulary. By making predictions, students learn to anticipate and analyze the content of a text, improving their comprehension and critical thinking skills. Class discussions facilitated by the teacher provide a platform for students to share their ideas, interpretations, and insights, promoting collaborative learning and fostering a deeper understanding of the text. Moreover, as students encounter new words and phrases during SR sessions, they are encouraged to discuss and clarify their meanings, leading to significant vocabulary development and a greater command of the English language.
- Strategy for narrative and informational texts: The Supported Reading approach is highly versatile, making it suitable for various types of texts, including both narrative and informational materials. By implementing SR for different genres, the STELLAR program ensures that students are exposed to a diverse range of texts and are equipped with the necessary skills to effectively navigate and comprehend each type. This versatility not only enhances students’ overall English language proficiency but also helps prepare them for the diverse reading materials they will encounter in the Primary School Leaving Examination and beyond.
B. Know – Want to know – Learn (KWL): A Dynamic Strategy for Enhancing Comprehension and Engagement with Non-Fiction Texts
- An effective strategy for non-fiction texts: The Know – Want to know – Learn (KWL) approach is a powerful and interactive strategy specifically designed to address the unique challenges associated with non-fiction texts. By incorporating the KWL method into the STELLAR program, teachers can engage students in a more structured and purposeful way, enabling them to delve deeper into the subject matter and develop a comprehensive understanding of the information presented in non-fiction materials.
- Extracting and relating information to prior knowledge: One of the key strengths of the KWL strategy is its focus on connecting new information to students’ existing knowledge. Before reading a non-fiction text, students are encouraged to identify what they already know about the topic and articulate what they want to learn. This process not only helps activate students’ prior knowledge but also fosters a sense of curiosity and motivation to explore the subject matter further. As students read the text, they extract relevant information and relate it to their initial questions and prior knowledge, promoting a more meaningful and lasting learning experience.
- Organization, access, and retention of information: The KWL approach is also highly effective in helping students organize, access, and remember the information they encounter in non-fiction texts. Teachers guide students in developing strategies for organizing their thoughts and identifying the main ideas and details in the text. This enables students to understand the structure and logic of the information presented, recognize repeated concepts, and discern between essential and non-essential details. As students become more proficient in these skills, they can gradually reduce their reliance on teacher support and become more independent in their reading and comprehension. Ultimately, the KWL method equips students with the tools and strategies needed to effectively process, retain, and apply the knowledge they acquire from non-fiction texts, setting them up for long-term success in their English language learning journey and in their preparation for the Primary School Leaving Examination.
C. Retelling (RT): An In-Depth Reading Comprehension Strategy for Enhancing Language Proficiency and Engagement Across Multiple Levels
- Comprehensive reading comprehension strategy: Retelling (RT) is a multifaceted reading comprehension strategy that forms an integral part of the STELLAR program in upper primary education. This powerful approach enables students to deepen their understanding of the texts they encounter, improve their language proficiency, and actively engage with the content in a way that promotes a rich and fulfilling learning experience. By incorporating the Retelling method into their instructional repertoire, teachers can help students develop the essential skills and strategies needed for effective comprehension, critical thinking, and communication.
- Engaging with language at multiple levels: One of the unique strengths of the Retelling strategy is its ability to engage students at various levels of language, from interpreting meaning at the whole text level to examining individual words and phrases and back to the whole text again. This dynamic process allows students to explore different aspects of the text, such as the story structure, narrative elements, character development, and language features, and encourages them to think deeply about the connections between these elements. Moreover, Retelling promotes active learning by challenging students to synthesize their understanding of the text, identify the main ideas and supporting details, and express their thoughts and interpretations in a coherent and organized manner.
- Integration of reading, writing, speaking, and listening: Another key advantage of the Retelling method is its ability to integrate all four major language skills – reading, writing, speaking, and listening – into a single, cohesive learning experience. As students engage with the text and participate in the Retelling process, they are provided with numerous opportunities to apply these skills in a variety of contexts, such as reading the text independently, discussing their understanding with their peers, writing summaries or reflections, and listening to others’ perspectives and interpretations. This holistic approach not only strengthens students’ language proficiency but also fosters a deeper sense of engagement, collaboration, and critical thinking, ultimately preparing them for success in their English language learning journey and in their pursuit of academic excellence in the Primary School Leaving Examination.
IV. STELLAR and PSLE Preparation: Establishing a Solid Foundation for English Language Proficiency, Critical Thinking, and Effective Learning Strategies to Achieve Success in the Primary School Leaving Examination
A. Building a strong foundation for English language proficiency: One of the primary goals of the STELLAR program is to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to excel in their English language studies, both in the classroom and in the context of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). By implementing evidence-based teaching methods and strategies, such as Shared Book Approach, Modified Language Experience Approach, Supported Reading, and Retelling, STELLAR enables students to develop a strong foundation in grammar, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing, speaking, and listening. This comprehensive approach to language learning ensures that students are well-prepared to tackle the diverse range of tasks and challenges they will encounter on the PSLE, and sets them up for long-term success in their academic and professional pursuits.
B. Fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills: In addition to promoting English language proficiency, STELLAR also places a strong emphasis on the development of higher-order thinking skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and analysis. By engaging students in activities that require them to think deeply about the texts they read, make connections between ideas, evaluate evidence, and construct well-reasoned arguments, the STELLAR program helps students cultivate the intellectual abilities and habits of mind necessary for success in the PSLE and beyond. Moreover, these critical thinking and problem-solving skills are transferable across a wide range of academic disciplines, making them invaluable assets for students as they progress through their educational journey and enter the workforce.
C. Developing effective language learning strategies for exam success: A key component of the STELLAR program’s success in preparing students for the PSLE is its focus on teaching and reinforcing effective language learning strategies. These strategies, which include goal-setting, planning, monitoring progress, and reflecting on performance, enable students to become independent, self-directed learners who are capable of taking charge of their own education and achieving their personal and academic goals. By instilling these skills in students from an early age, STELLAR not only equips them with the tools they need to excel in the PSLE but also empowers them to continue refining and building upon their language abilities throughout their lives. This emphasis on lifelong learning and continuous improvement is a cornerstone of the STELLAR program and an essential ingredient for success in the rapidly evolving, knowledge-based economy of the 21st century.
V. Conclusion: Emphasizing the Integral Role of STELLAR in Primary English Education in Singapore and Its Crucial Contribution to PSLE Preparation and Students’ Future Academic Success
A. Summary of STELLAR’s role in primary English education in Singapore: The Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading (STELLAR) program has emerged as a transformative force in primary English education in Singapore, revolutionizing the way English language skills are taught and learned in the nation’s schools. By implementing a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that integrates explicit instruction in language skills with engaging, age-appropriate children’s stories and texts, STELLAR has succeeded in creating a dynamic, learner-centered environment that fosters both language proficiency and critical thinking skills. Through its emphasis on holistic and targeted language activities, collaborative learning experiences, and the development of effective language learning strategies, STELLAR has made a significant impact on the quality of primary English education in Singapore, ensuring that students are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to excel in their studies and achieve their full potential.
B. Importance of STELLAR for PSLE preparation and future academic success: As a program that is deeply committed to the long-term success of its students, STELLAR plays a crucial role in preparing learners for the rigorous demands of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) and the challenges that lie ahead in their academic and professional lives. By building a strong foundation in English language proficiency, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and nurturing the development of effective language learning strategies, STELLAR ensures that students are well-positioned to excel on the PSLE and achieve their academic goals. Moreover, the skills and abilities cultivated through STELLAR extend far beyond the realm of English language learning, equipping students with the intellectual tools and habits of mind necessary to succeed in a wide range of academic disciplines and professional fields. In this way, the STELLAR program not only contributes to students’ immediate success on the PSLE but also lays the groundwork for a lifetime of learning, growth, and achievement, making it an invaluable asset to Singapore’s educational landscape and the nation’s future success.