I Can Read’s new virtual programme allows their young students to learn grammar in a fun and interesting way, at their own pace.
Learning and mastering a language is never easy. With the nuances of the English language, young children – and sometimes even adults – often find it difficult to get a hang of the various linguistic rules and their numerous exceptions. However, language is fundamental to how we express ourselves in our daily interactions. Without a good grasp of English in the long run, a child’s self-confidence might dip when communicating in school, at home or amongst friends.
Built upon years of research by educational psychologists, the I Can Read methodology is a proven reading system that strives to make learning how to read easy for children. Beyond cultivating their self-confidence, the I Can Read approach empowers children to take control of their own reading progress and nurtures them into fluent independent learners.
While I Can Read had previously been classroom-based within their learning centres and partner schools, it now offers online lessons to complement its existing offerings. They have also added new virtual programmes, such as the new Grammar Booster, which aims to bring the English language to life through interactive animations and games that make learning more meaningful for its young students. Grammar Booster also capitalises on the younger generation’s preference for tech-enabled platforms, and harnesses emerging technologies for children to learn and thrive at their own pace.
As a first-of-its-kind online course in Asia, we were excited to catch up with Samuel Bracking, Professional Development Executive and Pooja Jain, E-Learning Development Manager, to find out more about I Can Read’s Grammar Booster. In our chat, we also uncovered the I Can Read ethos and the team’s passion in nurturing articulate and confident students while igniting a lifelong love for learning amongst them.
1. What are some common difficulties Primary-level students face when learning English?
Many students nowadays are taught English using rules-based methodologies that reduce the focus of learning the language to the primary objective of scoring well in assessments and exams. This approach removes the contextual understanding and practical application of the language, and prevents the enjoyable exploration of English as a living, breathing entity that is forever evolving. Are most students able to absorb good grammar and language skills just by learning rules? Not always, and not to the point where it influences their linguistic articulation in regular life.
2. How did this inspire the I Can Read team to develop Grammar Booster?
Grammar is the foundation of any language. As experts in the field, the I Can Read academic team has an undiluted love for the language as its unifying core, and wanted to bring the joys associated with its learning and usage to as many people as possible. Strong command of the English language is not only mandatory for scoring well in the subject; it endows a learner with the ability to process content and express themselves clearly and precisely in any subject, both in school and beyond.
Grammar Booster was, therefore, developed to address individual learner’s requirements, provide grammar foundations not limited to an examination context, and encourage learners to enjoy the language and the learning process.
3. How did I Can Read’s two-decade-long experience contribute to the development of Grammar Booster?
The combined knowledge and expertise of I Can Read’s academic team in the fields of eLearning, curriculum development and practical teaching allowed for Grammar Booster to be developed at record pace.
The team decisively created a progressive road map of teaching specific grammatical concepts that younger and older students need to know, irrespective of their school’s curriculum. This was done whilst establishing an eLearning design that could achieve the learning objectives through appropriate interactivities to maximise engagement.
4. What are some unique aspects of the Grammar Booster programme? How do they push students to take charge of their learning to develop strong and confident readers?
While most eLearning courses are basic page-turners, Grammar Booster is structured on learning-design principles. How people learn is not simply by watching videos, reading text, listening to their teachers and attempting questions. People learn using a combination of these formats. The cognitive amalgamation of these mediums is what Grammar Booster encapsulates.
To teach each of the grammatical concepts, Grammar Booster uses a diverse range of interactive elements such as animations, interactive content, knowledge checks, quizzes with constructive feedback, and games. All of this is facilitated by a character-driven theme with narration to clearly explain and engage, whilst at some level provide a human touch to offer an individualised learning experience.
I Can Read’s Grammar Booster includes interactive elements that appeals to the students’ imagination to teach them grammar.
This cumulative approach to learning the various aspects of English grammar, such as the different parts of speech and their relationships, sentence construction, and correct tense usage allows the students to progress through the units in a fun and interesting way that appeals to their imagination, whilst exploring and practising the target concepts in a practical manner.
5. How is Grammar Booster tailored to suit the different learning needs of your younger and older students? What are some differences in the programme for these students?
Two separate versions of Grammar Booster were developed to accommodate the disparity in grammar knowledge between young and older learners.
‘Fun with Grammar Booster’ for lower primary students comprises of 20 levels that introduce and build upon concepts individually, allowing for younger students to internalise grammar in a more focused way.
Each level focuses on different grammar concepts, allowing students to effective learn and apply the different grammar rules.
‘Flying with Grammar Booster’ for upper primary students comprises of 11 levels that refresh and boost the grammatical knowledge older students would have already acquired.
In both versions, games, knowledge checks, quizzes and feedback were tailored to suit the different age groups so that they can enjoy the learning process.
6. Why was Grammar Booster created as a fully online programme?
One of the wonderful advantages of Grammar Booster is that it covers a wide range of grammatical concepts appropriate for any primary school learner, thus allowing it to be distributed on a wide scale. In other words, a student enrolled to Grammar Booster does not necessarily have to be a student attending an I Can Read learning centre or affiliated school.
This gives Grammar Booster the scope and flexibility to teach as many students as possible, such as through fully online home-based learning or through classroom blended learning no matter which English curriculum a school may be using.
7. How will the online programme be conducted?
Once a student has been enrolled in Grammar Booster, they simply log in to our I Can Read Online eLearning platform and begin accessing the course units.
The course is progressive in nature so when a student completes a unit, subsequent units or games will be unlocked.
The platform is completely self-sufficient and provides 24/7 access, so students can complete the course at their own pace.
8. With various limitations of online learning, how is I Can Read going beyond with Grammar Booster to bring greater engagement to students through the screen to continue encouraging them to learn independently?
In the current climate, online learning has been left to the mercy of educators who needed to quickly provide a solution when physical classes were terminated, which continues to be the case in several countries. What emerged was a less-than-satisfactory ‘online’ learning that relied heavily on a teacher’s capabilities to teach virtually using a hastily assembled ‘list’ of various digital media and platforms.
To fill this gap, Grammar Booster serves as an interactive learning solution that is based on strong learning-design principles. At its core, it fulfils four central objectives:
9. As blended learning becomes the new normal, what are some advice you have for parents looking to manage and empower their children’s online learning?
Much has been said about the evils of ‘screen time’. Rather than focus on that aspect, parents should work towards accepting that it is the way children learn today to broaden their horizons. They might wish for their child to spend time at the library, but the utility of search engines cannot be undermined in any student’s day-to-day learning. Whether it is blended learning initiated by their child’s school, or additional learning experiences they wish their child to engage in, regard it as an enabler and the way to learn for the decades to come.
What parents can and should do is to ensure that their children make good use of opportunities that the digital age has brought to us. They can select the right digital products and encourage their children to utilise the features but also create a balance with quality off-screen time.
10. How has the reception been for your Grammar Booster programme?
Grammar Booster has been launched to I Can Read students in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Hong Kong. So far, the parents have been appreciative of the course. In addition, the students’ access and completion reports are a strong indicator of the programme’s positive impact and efficacy.
In the second quarter of 2021, we are looking forward to going live in the Philippines and Middle East to bring the opportunity of learning good grammar to non-I Can Read students as well.
11. Do you think online and/or blended learning will be the future of learning in the long run?
Children are becoming more and more tech-savvy with each new generation and using technology is becoming a part of their daily lives, just as much as it is the norm for adults.
With this in mind, children, whether consciously or sub-consciously, crave to be engaged and often turn to technology to satisfy this. The education industry is finally noticing and catching up by incorporating a greater level of tech and eLearning into their classes and curriculum to achieve their learning objectives.
It is therefore inevitable that this will eventually become the standard of learning in the future, and it is the educators’ responsibility to incorporate learning-design principles to ensure learning stays effective when adopting online and digital strategies.
12. Do you think e-learning will replace or enhance current face-to-face programmes? Why?
One of the key components of learning and growth is the social interaction aspect that is automatically fulfilled in face-to-face programmes. That is not to say that it is and will continue to be missing in eLearning. At the hands of a skilled learning architect, the social interaction criteria can be quite satisfactorily handled in the eLearning format as well, albeit not quite at the level of actual interactions in a physical environment.
The impact teachers have on a student’s life cannot be underestimated. The human element is paramount to any learning experience. While eLearning can, does and will augment and supplement the way students learn, it would not entirely replace face-to-face programmes.
In fact, eLearning fills a large gap that physical programmes cannot: individualised attention and learning path. Globally, class sizes range from 20 to 50 students in one classroom. It is impossible for a teacher to give focused attention on an individual student’s learning needs. Even though countries like Singapore and many IB schools have banding for core, support and advanced learners in any class, these learners would still have different preferred learning styles. With the use of digital learning experiences, these can then be catered to.
13. Beyond the current web classes and Grammar Booster programme that I Can Read is conducting, are there any other projects you have in the pipeline that embraces the online/blended learning approach?
I Can Read has fully embraced the potential of eLearning to assist not just its youngest learners, but also its teachers as well.
We have revolutionised our approach to teacher training by releasing our online teacher training platform, I Can Read University, to teachers at our learning centres and partner schools throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
This platform uses a blended approach to train all aspects of I Can Read’s pedagogy and curriculum, allowing teachers to fully internalise our content and hone their skills through practical workshops. Since its release, we have begun to see a dramatic rise in the teaching quality coupled with shortened onboarding and application times.
For our youngest learners, I Can Read is currently developing immersive games that will enhance the phonological and reading skills they are developing in our classrooms.
Strengthen and develop your child’s English skills today and empower them with I Can Read’s latest online and offline classes. Learn more about their various programmes at their outlets at Bedok Point (), Hougang Mall (), Tiong Bahru Plaza (), Waterway Point () and White Sands () today!