THE SECOND STAGE

THE SECOND STAGE

 

We finished Book Three off around the middle of December. It is a milestone on our learning journey. It marks the completion of the national English language curriculum before college. Some of you started to learn the language in primary school; most of you did in middle school. Therefore, all of you have studied the language in school for at least five or six years. If you have all the textbooks collected and stacked on your desk, will you have a sense of achievement?

 

With all the books done, most teachers and students will assume that the next part of the journey is revision. I would not use REVISION to name the second stage of the last year, for what we will do should go far beyond revision.

 

MATERIALS

 

Please get the following books available for the second stage – Student’s Book 1A, Student’s Book 1B, Student’s Book 2A, Student’s Book 2B and Student’s Book 3. If you find any of the books missing, make sure you borrow a copy from your friends.

 

We have ordered a companion for the second stage. We will use the companion together with the textbooks.

 

Student Times will still be used for the tests. The exercises focused on specific aspects of the exam carried in the paper will also be used.

 

We teachers will start a REVISION daily practice in place of the PMP programme. Each day you will get a handout, on one page of which are ten sentence completion questions based on a unit and on the other page of which is a cloze test or a reading passage. This work is optional for you. It is up to you to decide whether to do it or how much to cover.

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO ON YOUR OWN?

 

The revision of the five student books is expected to be performed on your own. Every week, you have three periods for self study before the breakfast break. Please go over the units during these periods. What should you review in a unit? Go through the vocabulary list, read Text A and Text B and, time permitting, study the language study section. I hope you are creative when it comes to the review. You may read the texts aloud, you may highlight some key words and phrases or you may take some notes.

 

I will not be present in the classroom in this period and I cannot supervise you. Take responsibility for your future and carry out your plan. Your view of the book should go hand in hand with what we do in our daytime sessions.

 

WHAT SHOULD WE DO TOGETHER IN CLASS?

 

In class we cover the companion. The first task of a unit is the vocabulary list. You are given time to fill in the blanks before I highlight some difficult items.

 

The second part of a unit is a summary of the language items that occur in the unit – words, phrases and patterns. Still you have time to read through this part in class. After you go through them, we will discuss the questions that you have encountered and that I think worth mentioning.

 

The last task is the homework. If any time is left after we do Task One and Task Two, it will be spent on the homework. If you cannot finish it in class, make sure you get it done after class. The homework comprises three sections – the vocabulary choice, the sentence completion and a cloze test or a reading passage. You will find that the work is not easy and that you will have to consult your dictionary at times.

 

In the companion, four units of the Student Book are grouped into one module. When we finish a module, there is a quiz. You will have time to do it in class. We plan to do one module one week.

 

TEST

 

We do a standard test every week. We still use Student Times for the tests. You are supposed to do the tests in two hours and hand in your answer sheet. The results will be processed. And the teacher will explain the thorny questions in one period.

 

Your work with the test does not end with a grade from me. Post-test work matters very much regarding improvement of your language proficiency and accumulation of your knowledge of the language. Among the six texts in a test paper, do you find one or two worth reading again? Do you absorb the lively language items in the text? Post-test work will guarantee that doing one paper is more rewarding than doing ten in haste.

 

TEN SENTENCES

 

We started the Ten Sentences project at the beginning of Senior Three. Up till now, we have done the daily practice approximately 100 times. Does this project work? Your progress in the Sentence Completion is the strongest evidence of its benefits. We shall carry it through to the end of high school.

 

The Ten Sentences Project functions as a revision of the language items we have covered. Or as some students put it, we recycle what we have digested. Therefore, it goes beyond helping you with the Sentence Completion. When we are doing the task, please use your hand, your mind and your ears. Listening alone could not profit you as much as doing listening, writing and speaking all at the same time.

 

I hope that by the time you take the national matriculation English test, the Ten Sentences project will have sharpened your intuition of the essence of the English sentence and of the active vocabulary of the language.

 

SMALL TALK

 

The first five minutes of each daytime period is devoted to the Small Talk. In Grade Three, the Small Talk is done between a student and me. As you have found, the five minutes is well spent. We use the language to talk about people and things around us. If you come up, you may give a talk or put some questions to your classmates or me. And if you are not prepared, you do not have to worry. I will keep the talk going for the five minutes. If you haven’t come up yet, please take an opportunity.

 

JOURNAL

 

Do you still remember the very first entry you wrote in your journal at the beginning of high school? Compare it with the latest entry you have written. Have you made progress? Have you taken your journal seriously? Every week in this last year of high school, I read some excellent entries, written in good English and focused on one specific topic. I am amazed by the progress some of you have made. The Small Talk furnishes you with a platform where you experiment with the spoken word; and the Journal is where you try your pen and experience the written word. I hope you combine the programmes with your thinking and your knowledge of the language. When you make a mistake, reflect on it and try to avoid the same mistake in your future experiment. Learning the language is very much a scientific experiment. Trial and error works with scientific experiments. It works too with learning a language.

 

TARGET

 

In about six months, your high school will come to an end. Have you got a clear target in mind? What type of university are you going to? Can you reach your goal? What profession will you choose? Will you work in the government, as an engineer, a doctor, a teacher or a business person? These questions seem distant from you because every day you are occupied with piles of papers and a string of exams. However, it is time you thought about your future occupation and learned about it.

 

BALANCE

 

It is common that a student has some weak subjects. Jack may be a genius when it comes to maths, but he seems to be all fingers and thumbs when he picks up his Chinese book. Mary may find learning English effortless but maths has been a thorn in her flesh.

 

You have been told to strengthen your weaker subjects. This is right, of course. Try your best to work harder where you are weak. Keep in mind that if you do not feel confident about a subject, it most often means that you have not grasped the spirit of the subject, especially the fundamentals. Say, if you cannot write a grammatically correct English sentence, then you do not know what a good sentence is. You would benefit more by tackling the basics of a subject than by swotting up on one exam paper after another if the subject were your Achilles’ heel.

 

Do not panic if you have got a weak subject or two. The truth is that the whole picture matters. Probably you may have found that even a top student in your class is not very strong on a particular area, but he is the best in terms of the total score. He is the best because the strength makes up for his weakness. Keep polishing your shiny points while trying to make your weakness less weak. When you have achieved the optimum performance in all the subjects, you will win.

 

BEST CONDITIONED

 

As the last exam draws nearer, you will feel the anxiety and nervousness. I hope that you pay attention to your whole life instead of letting your studies stress you out and rob you of your energy, concentration and motivation. Live a balanced life and stay upbeat. Do you eat your three meals on time? Do you concentrate on the moment? Do you go out and walk for a while when you have got stuck with a maths problem? Do you plan your studies and budget your time? Do you take exercise regularly?

 

Only when you feel you are best conditioned, both in mind and in body, will you win. You derive a sense of achievement from your studies; you get on well with your dorm mates, classmates and teachers; and you feel that every day you are full of vigour and passion and purpose.

 

When you are in best shape, there is no way that you cannot shine. Good luck, boys and girls.

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