Project to Improve English in Rural Schools (PIERS)
BEING proficient in English can open doors to greater opportunities in life. However, the ability to speak well in English has always been an issue among many high school students in Malaysia especially among those from semi urban and rural areas. The ability to speak, convey opinions and share ideas is an important skill that needs to be mastered from early stages of school life. We often hear complaints on how school leavers and college graduates are unable to speak well in English during interviews, and often falter in their ability to perform well at workplace because of their inability to communicate well in English. Therefore, becoming proficient in speaking English is imperative for students. The aim of this project is to carry out speaking activities that are fun and engaging so that students in rural areas can overcome their perception that English language is a difficult language to acquire. This proposal provides information on a four week interactive English activities ranging from Reader’s Theatre, Power singing, Storyboard and Creative Speech.
Overview of Issue / Background
BEING proficient in English can open doors to greater opportunities in life. However,
the ability to speak well in English has always been an issue among many high school students in Malaysia especially among those from semi urban and rural areas. The ability to speak, convey opinions and share ideas is an important skill that needs to be mastered from early stages of school life. We often hear complaints on how school leavers and college graduates are unable to speak well in English during interviews, and often falter in their ability to perform well at workplace because of their inability to communicate well in English. Therefore, becoming proficient in speaking English is imperative for students. The aim of this project is to carry out speaking activities that are fun and engaging so that students in rural areas can overcome their perception that English language is a difficult language to acquire. This proposal provides information on a four week interactive English activities ranging from Reader’s Theatre, Power singing, Storyboard and Creative Speech.
Project Objectives (Vision & Mission)
During my childhood days living in a rural area, I always thought that English language was difficult to acquire. The main aim of this project is to improve English fluency among rural secondary school students. Based on my experience, the best way to do this is by providing students with opportunities to practice the different language skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing. Therefore, the objective of this project are:
- to build students’ self-confidence to use English.
- to increase rural student’s English language fluency by engaging them in group efforts.
- to instill behavior and attitudes appropriate for rural students to continue using English language after the project is concluded.
Project Details (Activities and Tasks)
The activities will be carried among the form one, two and four students because students of forms 3 and 5 who will be preparing for the public examinations: PT3 and SPM. During my school days, I found that Reader’s Theatre workshop carried out by my teachers helped us to bond and understand each other’s’ problem. So the present project is based on my experience on projects that were carried out by dedicated teachers during my school years. Albeit with some modification to the activities that I have learnt during my education at UiTM Negeri Sembilan Branch, Kuala Pilah Campus. The activities will be in the form of a concert cum competition.
- Reader’s Theatre:Reader's theater is a strategy for developing reading fluency. It involves students in oral reading using correct pronunciation, tone of voice and facial expression. Students do not have to memorize their part; they need only to reread it several times, thus developing their fluency skills.
- Storyboard: students feature a storybook that they have read using a narrative storyboard. Each image on the storyboard represents characters, events etc. After introducing the storybook they have read using the storyboard, the students present a sketch representing their favorite part of story to an audience.
- Choral Speaking: Choral reading is reading aloud in unison with a whole class or group of students. Choral reading helps build students' fluency, self-confidence, and motivation. As students are reading aloud together, students who may ordinarily feel self-conscious or nervous about reading aloud have built-in support.It focuses on pronunciation, expression (facial) and volume (loud/soft) to bring out the aesthetics of a text.
1) Reader’s Theatre
21/8/19 & 28/8/19
2) Story Board
3) Choral speaking
Consolidation of all the activities at school level
Talent Showcase Time : Winners will be awarded prizes.
Expected Project Result & Outcomes
- The activities carried out would be a path to improving students’ communication skills in fun and exciting way.
- Improving students’ reading skills through repeated readings and in the process Instill a love for reading.
- Encouraging group attachment (teamwork) to help one another improve fluency in English.
0% of RM1.00 Goal
|University name||:||UiTM NEGERI SEMBILAN KUALA PILAH CAMPUS|
|Project leader name||:||MUHAMMAD AMAR B. ROSLY|
|Number of beneficiaries||:||490|
A two-sentence summary of the project goals.
- PIERS PROJECT GOALS
This project intends to plant the seeds of confidence and motivation to acquire English among students from rural by engaging them in group efforts. Hopefully after the project is over, PIERS would have instilled the right behaviour and attitudes that are relevant for rural students to continue using English language even after the completion of the PIERS. Therefore, the objective of PIERS is:
- to build self-confidence of rural students to use English language.
- to eradicate the presumption that English is a difficult language to acquire
Did other fund-raising efforts contribute to your projects? What were they?
The fund provided by the foundation was limited, the project was aided with the help of other fund raising projects. As the total sum needed to complete the project as planned was close to RM7800, but we manage to secure only RM3100 from Khind Starfish Foundation. So we embarked on a few fund raising effort. There were three source of funding namely; crowdfunding (RM1630), sale of PIERS booklet to the participating schools (RM1326) and UiTM CNS Kampus Kuala Pilah (RM1690). In total we managed to get RM4646 from other sources. Therefore, the constraints due to budget did not become a daunting issue in carrying out the project.
- DETAILS OF PIERS PROJECT.
- Were there unanticipated difficulties? Budget constraints?
Though we had severe budget constraint at the beginning of the project as we only managed to secure RM3100 from Khind Starfish Foundation, the advisors and facilitators managed to convince the UiTM CNS KP management to give us RM1690 and other outside sources (crowdfunding RM1630), we also came up with the idea of producing PIERS booklet that we sold to the schools for RM3 each and made a gross profit of RM1326. Therefore, with the extra allocation we secured, PIERS was carried out in FOUR schools instead of three schools as initially planned.
- Language or cultural barriers?
This project encountered language barriers among rural school students because of their preference to use their mother tongues such as Bahasa Melayu and Chinese over English language. Nevertheless, the committee insisted of using English from the start and though students spoke to them in Bahasa Melayu, the facilitators continued to answer them in English. This action eventually got the participants to speak in English as they became more aware that PIERS was there to encourage them to speak in English. In time, the students were able to use English as PIERS provided them the environment and motivation. To maintain uniformity in the 3 activities carried in the four schools, the students were trained using similar PIERS booklet that consisted of choral speaking, story-board and readers’ theatre activities.
- What worked well? What didn’t work well?
During the initial period of implementation of PIERS, the committee experienced resistance of non-participation. Nevertheless, with the right coaching, training and conducting fun activities, the students became supportive and had the right motivation and attitude. This was seen in their participation during trainings as well as when they took time to practice on their own after school hours. The committee also noted improvements in their pronunciation especially when they took pains to check on correct pronunciation in online audio dictionaries. Their training and practices paid off when they performed in front of an audience in the TALENT SHOW CASE which was a competition in the three activities carried out among the four participating schools. In fact during the final stage of PIERS the committee encounter problem of over-participation when the schools insisted of sending more teams for each of the competing categories. As funding, venue and seats were limited, the PIERS committee had to turn down aspiring students who wanted to be part of their school’s Talent Showcase team. This was indeed sad. In future, the committee hopes to overcome the problem by collecting more fund, and having the competing at a bigger venue.
- How many people benefited or will benefit from your project? Who are these people?
About 500 people benefited from the project. These were students from 4 secondary schools, UiTM diploma and degree students who acted as facilitators, UiTM lecturers who served as advisors, and district education department, school principals and English teachers from respective schools that listed PIERS as part of their key performance indicator (KPI) for collaboration activity for 2019.
- What is the long-term impact and sustainability of this project?
This project has impacted people in the form of motivational and attitudinal changes in the use of English language. Students of secondary schools were instilled with behaviours to use English even after the coaching sessions at school level was over, This behaviour was evident at the closing ceremony of the project (Talent Showcase) held at UiTM CNS KP. The students obviously had a better grasp of language and confidence to use English than their first day of the caoching sessions. Additionally, the participating school students appeared impressed that UiTM students used English and none other language in their dealings with them. This too acted as a motivational factor to use English among themselves.
The project had helped UiTM student facilitators to hone and nurture their leadership skills by facilitation and organizing the project for almost 3 months. As for UiTM lecturers, the project has helped them to reach out to low proficiency students at schools.
This project has sustained itself since its first inauguration in 2017 with only 1 participating schools to 4 schools in the district of Kuala Pilah in 2019. The impact made by PIERS was so great that the Rector of UiTM CNS KP has adopted it as a state level activity. Plans are already in the pipeline to put PIERS in action for 2020.
- Is there a future for your project?
As the closing ceremony of PIERS held at UiTM CNS KP was graced by the presence of the UiTM Academic Rector, the respective district education heads and school heads, it was decided that the PIERS should ‘go big’ to cover all the districts in Negeri Sembilan. Hence, plans have been confirmed to meet up between UiTM CNS Kampus Kuala Pilah, UiTM CNS Kampus Rembau and UiTM CNS Kampus Seremban to spear head the project in the state of Negeri Sembilan. The proposed meeting will be held with the UiTM Negeri Sembilan Rector and the respective heads at Institut Latihan UiTM Bandar Ensek on 6 to 8 Dec 2019 to plan for #PIERS for N9 schools.
- How does or will your project contribute to happiness? Short-term? Long-term?
The project has contributed to happiness among secondary school students; happiness came in the form of changing their fear into courage and confidence to speak and acquire English. During the progression of PIERS students became leaders of their groups as they were able to speak confidently in front of others which was evident during Talent Show Case. As for the committee members, they not only developed their leadership skill but they improved on their communication skills, in addition to expanding their social circle. These may appear to be a short-term impact but the impact to happiness is long term.
It is long-term happiness for the secondary school students as they have come to realise that English is not a difficult language to speak and acquire. This was noted in the questionnaire given to the students at the conclusion of the project on 8th November 2019.
The effect of the project is also long term as the students were able to communicate in English as thy worked in groups and completed the activities. The school students took time out from their normal classroom/school time to plan and practice the activities for the final performance. It is hoped that all their hard work and determination will help them to excel in the language in the future. Thus, this project has increased their awareness on the importance of English language.
The committee members have earnt to manage time between course lectures and organizing PIERS since PIERS took about 6 months from the planning stage to the execution and to closing in November 2019. They had learnt from the mistakes as seen in the post-mortem after the closing ceremony at the end of the project. The committee had also learnt the importance of professional communication and they should not mix friendship and work ethics when and important project is carried out. With these long-term effects, this project contributes to the happiness index of Malaysia.
- How has your project changed the way you think about the world? How has it changed you?
One of the variables the project has changed is my perception of the world. Previously, I thought that people in Malaysia cannot unite since we only communicated with our mother tongue and Malaysians have language barrier to engender understanding and unity. However, after this project, my perception and thoughts have changed. We found that English language is the solution of some of our problems since English language is the modern lingua franca and it is the ‘in thing’ among youngsters to speak well in the language. As English language was the emphasis of the project, PIERS has definitely brought the different cultures of different schools (Chinese, Malay and Tamil) to know each other better which could be a catalyst for future understanding.
- Complete this section with a one to two sentence personal statement, suitable for use as a quotation, addressing how and why this project was valuable and what was the most important thing you learned as a result.
It was once said that ‘Productivity Is Not an Accident - It is the result of commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” This quote relates because in the effort to improve English PIERS provided valuable leadership qualities, experience and improvement to speak English confidently. PIERS facilitators shared as much knowledge as possible and put the school students in touch with English through fun and exciting activities. Hopefully, these students will nurture the skills learned in their quest to acquire English language in future.
One of the most important values learnt from this project is the sense of belonging. Every team member and advisors were part of decision making to generate ideas and solve problems. It boosted my confidence level to communicate with others especially those outside our committee to settle the numerous challenges that came our way; we were pushed outside our comfort zone, questioned by university administrators, and fail a lot of times to secure sponsorship but we solved the problems we faced by working hand in hand. Mentorship and guidance from our advisors proved to be very important when we implemented PIERS.