My son is an average kid in Singapore’s education system. But that’s good enough.

By Carean Oh

Since I run an English tuition centre in Singapore, we are often expected to drive results and coach our students to achieve stellar performances in their exams (an A-star or a distinction grade for English). What happens when a parent sees me at the door and says, “My son has improved. He used to fail English, but has not attained a C for his PSLE”? We will be proud. And you need not be ashamed just because you have a child who has attained a C grade.

There is a language development pathway for every child. His grades determine two things: his ability now and the potential gap that can be closed. This also suggests what can be done when planning his language learning pathway. We often misconstrue that to do well in language, an early foundation is necessary, hence, the unbridled emphasis on the national paper, the PSLE.

Language is an acquired subject that is shaped by the environment. Results alone is not a fair judgement of a child’s ability. Think about the main language spoken at home. Reverse to the day you communicate with your children using less than formal language, perhaps Singlish. We might have played a part in producing a less than ideal PSLE score for the English language.

No student can improve on creative writing without fluency. To develop fluency, the child has to speak, breathe and speak English.


Carean Oh runs an English Language tuition centre in Singapore. She has been teaching with PSLE students since 2008. Writers Studio is a premium tuition centre which provides a conducive English language learning environment for students who aspire to excel in the PSLE and beyond.

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