First published in Floodgates April - June 2016
by Yuen Ting Ai and Debbie YM Loh
It is always daunting for a child to speak in an unfamiliar, non-native language. While teaching English is what we do, building confidence in using the language is part and parcel of our work. But from a larger perspective, enabling students to read and access information in English opens up their world to different possibilities, enriching their understanding of society.
Today we are proud of many former students who are leading enriched lives, including one pursuing a medical degree, and others who are serving in DUMC ministries! We intentionally build these skills and perspectives through an English-only classroom setting. Over time, as our teachers patiently and positively encourage the children to speak the language to each other, they open up and become more comfortable and confident in doing so.
We recognise that English is an important medium of communication especially in the working world, and more so in an increasingly globalised setting. We believe that starting the children off early in the language therefore is an important building block for other things later on in life. We follow the Singaporean syllabus for English, which we believe is a material that is universally beneficial to our diverse composition of students.
We hope to impact more children. Excel Tuition Club currently tutors just over 100 students through our three centres in Kota Damansara, USJ 1 and the Dream Centre. These centres serve the surrounding community, and students reflect the general population of its environment.
Our centres in Kota Damansara and USJ 1 serve children from lower income families, who are least exposed to the language in everyday living. So to catch them up, we use a study level of English that suits their proficiency, working with them where they are at.
At the Dream Centre, the children are mostly Chinese-educated, who come from middle class families, who need to build their confidence in using English as a medium of communication. These children fare better academically and need just that extra push, and the Singapore syllabus is the key attraction for their parents.
Throughout the process, our teachers are intentional in guiding their students towards character development such as kindness, politeness, cleanliness and learning how to resolve conflict without fighting one another.
What children and their parents love about ETC
One of the things our children love about ETC is how we give them small rewards for attendance and good work. Indeed, our coupon system is a favourite among our students, where after accumulating coupons through attendance, good work done and good behaviour, students get to exchange their coupons for gifts at the Gift Shop which we hold three times a year.
Through this exercise, our students get to enjoy the result of their hard work. We believe this brings about the joy of learning and can unlock the motivation in a child to excel. Of course, good relationship established with teachers also keeps our students motivated in the subject, playing an important part in how they do in class.
Throughout the year, we organise parties and outings for students to learn new things while socialising with their teachers and classmates—these too become a highlight for the children.
Our current dilemma
Even so, we are low on volunteer teachers. Our USJ 1 centre currently has a long waiting list which we would be able to serve if we had sufficient teachers on our team.
Our largest centre, USJ 1 currently has around 65 students who are fitted into 4 levels. Each of these levels has one to two teachers who shoulder the classes every week. Ideally, if we are able to boost the number of teachers to more than 12, the teachers will be able to serve on a rotational basis, and not spread too thinly.
For Kota Damansara, we have about 20 children served by four teachers. If we could increase this to another two or more teachers, not only would we be able to provide more attention to the students, we would be able to provide English tuition to more children. Our current pool of children at Dream Centre is adequately served by centre teachers.
The children need you
Help us touch a life by teaching English at Excel Tuition Club, particularly the centres that are currently under-served. Not only would you share your language skills and knowledge to the students, your presence and love will help them to bloom as people loved by God. In fact, your presence would be the love of God Himself, being sent by Him to lead and nurture these precious lives.
For more information and to volunteer with the Excel Tuition Club, contact Head of Ministry Yuen Ting Ai at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.ces.org.my.