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Friday, February 14, 2020

CEFR Parallel Assessments in PT3, UPSR and SPM

Last year (2019), PT3 students received grading on their English language proficiency using CEFR standards. Many parents were confused because they did not know about the adoption of CEFR in Malaysia. They also did not understand the grading under CEFR.

What is CEFR and Adoption of CEFR in Malaysia

CEFR is the Common European Framework for Languages. It is an international standard for describing language ability and is used in many countries. CEFR is widely accepted by many countries as an international framework for language teaching, learning and assessment.

Malaysia adopted CEFR under the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013 - 2025) and Roadmap for English Language Education Reform (2015 - 2025).

With a common framework ie the CEFR,  teachers or learners, employers and educational institutions can see and compare the level of English qualifications of one learner with another. A learner who receives the same grade under the CEFR is similarly qualified irrespective of which school or country they are from.

Implementation of CEFR- aligned curriculum for Malaysian schools
The CEFR-aligned curriculum for both SK and SJK is implemented in stages, beginning with Years l and 2 in 2018. Under this new curriculum, Listening and Speaking are treated as separate skills instead of combined as in the past, and all five language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing and Language Arts) are developed based on the CEFR. Phonics is covered separately.

The CEFR-aligned curriculum for Malaysian secondary schools is implemented in stages, beginning with Forms 1 and 2 in 2018. Under this new curriculum, Listening and Speaking are treated as separate skills instead of combined as in the past, and all four language skills (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) are developed based on the CEFR proficiency levels. Grammar (taught in Language Awareness lessons) and vocabulary are integrated in lessons focusing on the four skills as well as Literature in Action.

CEFR Grading

CEFR describes language ability on a six point scale, from A1 for beginners up to C2 for those who have mastered the language.

Pre-A1, A1, A2 = Basic User
B1, B2 = Independent User
C1, C2 = Proficient User

Go to this link to view the CEFR Global Scale with details of each level and what it means.

Parallel Assessments in PT3, UPSR and SPM

The first parallel assessment of Common European Framework of Reference For Language (CEFR) was implemented at the Form Three Assessment (PT3) examination level for the English Language paper in 2019. (Note that students need not sit for an extra exam paper. They are merely assessed twice for the same English paper they sat for.)

Parallel assessment of the English Language paper would be implemented for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) in 2021 and Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in 2022.

"Although the highest grade was C2, equivalent to the proficiency of an English native speaker, PT3 questions were set at B1 level. SPM, would start with the new CEFR format in 2021 with the hope that students would have acquired at least the B1 level. UPSR would follow suit in 2022 with A2 set as the highest grade."  (Ref: First CEFR assessment via PT3 english paper)

Using CEFR aligned books

Parents and educators should use CEFR aligned books as teaching material to guide students and prepare them for their examinations. When buying specific English Language Teaching books, parents and teachers should look out for “CEFR-aligned curriculum”.


This post was brought to you by Oxford Fajar Malaysia. Oxford Fajar has a range of ELT (English Language Teaching) books that are CEFR aligned. Oxford Fajar is a subsidiary of Oxford University Press, the world's leading authority on the English Language. Every year more than 33 million students use Oxford materials to learn English.  


Facebook Giveaway

5 readers stand a chance to win Oxford Fajar English Language Activity Books for their children. Join our Facebook Giveaway. Join Now!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Preparing your child with 21st century learning (PAK-21)

Parents, have you noticed that the kids are doing more projects at school nowadays? This is because schools are now embracing 21st Century Learning.

What is 21st century learning (PAK21) in Malaysian schools context?

21st Century Learning, or Pembelajaran Abad ke-21 (PAK21), refers to the MOE’s initiative which champions a student-centred learning process that is steered by five elements of communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and values and ethics (4C1V).  PAK21, which was formulated in the second wave of Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, has been ongoing for three years.

Five Elements of Communication (4C1V)
  1. Communication
  2. Collaboration
  3. Critical Thinking
  4. Creativity
  5. Values and ethics

As parents we need to understand this initiative so that we can guide and support our children

Teachers are bringing appropriate 21st century (PAK-21) activities to the classroom. Activities that are designed with the 4Cs in mind, take into account that students are practicing communication and collaboration with their peers and teachers in school, and through that they are tasked to think critically.

As an example in Year 6, Science, Chapter 5; the child is learning about ‘The Importance of Keeping a Balanced Ecosystem’. The activity suggestion below acts as a guide to teachers and is taken from Oxford Fajar’s Zoom series.

Oxford Fajar’s Zoom series, both student and teacher edition

Source: Page 39, Zoom Sains Tahun 6 SK 19/20 Panduan Guru

How can we help our kids embrace 21st Century Learning (PAK-21)?

21st Century Learning encourages students to be digitally savvy, be globally aware and engaged as 21st century citizens.
Below are some ways we can help our kids embrace 21st Century Learning.

1. Exposure. One of the ways we can help our children become more globally aware is to talk to them about things that are happening around the world. Read the papers or online news together with them and discuss.

2. Safety. Another very important aspect about 21st Century Learning is the digital aspect. As kids become more digitally savvy,  parents need to educate kids about how to be a responsible digital citizen. As a responsible digital citizen, one must know how to use technology appropriately and operate online safely and knowledgeably. 

3. Culture - As internet opens up borders worldwide, we must teach our kids to be more culturally aware by being more knowledgeable about other cultures and languages. The best time to do this is during the primary school years.

4. Support - As parents we should be aware about what kinds of activities the school is doing to expose the kids to 21st Century Learning. We can help the children by guiding them at home with the given projects and activities. The keyword is guiding and supporting and not doing it for them. 

5. Co-curricular Activities - We can also help our children embrace 21st Century Learning by choosing after school activities or extra co-curricular activities that support 21st Century Learning, eg, Coding programs, Public Speaking, Digital art or other activities that encourage team work, communication, creativity, problem solving and critical thinking.

Parents and schools working together will help our children transition into 21st Century Learning smoothly. 

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Education Going Digital - Are you keeping up?

We are currently seeing a digital transformation in education. Just like every other aspect of life that is going digital, education is also being digitalized.

When classrooms go digital, students receive so much more exposure in the form of e-textbooks with multimedia content such as videos, audios, interactive presentations or quizzes and hyperlinks that lead you to more information on the subject being studied.

Are we keeping up with digitalization in education?

Digital products and companion websites offer students additional access to content on the go

Recognizing a need to incorporate print and digital resources, Oxford Fajar has in its key print series provided additional ready-to-use learning and teaching resources as a value-add in their product offering.

The resources such as videos and website links help students deepen their understanding of certain topics, additional exercises, and audio files for listening components in English and Malay language. These resources are developed to complement Oxford Fajar titles and are tailored closely to each specific title. Students will find this beneficial as all its contents are aligned to the latest syllabuses.

This provides students the tools to take guided control of their learning.

Look out for CW logo (Companion Website Logo) in your Oxford Fajar print books and explore the companion resources.

Other than print books, Oxford Fajar also has interactive ebooks and apps which allow students to study on the go.

Below are some of the digital products being offered by Oxford Fajar.

Fully Worked Solutions ebook for SPM, STPM and Matriculation students - includes step-by-step workings and examples to introduce concepts, build understanding and help students explore subjects like mathematics and science in a more fun and interactive way.

Memory Booster Plus app - effective digital study cards for SPM students for quick revision on the go

Have you tried using digital resources before? Oxford Fajar is offering 50% off on Memory Booster App on Google Play Store starting today! Additionally, all  Mumsgather followers get a 50% discount with the discount code MUMSGATHER50 on Oxford Fajar’s e-learning site. First come first serve limited to the first 100 buyers. Key in the discount code upon checkout when purchasing Oxford Fajar's Digital Solution Books. This discount code is valid till 31 March 2020.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

Assessments books focusing on HOTS questions for 21st Century Learning

2020. The start of a new decade. We have been moving away from rote learning to self-directed learning of the 21st century. Schools and teachers have been talking about creative thinking and more and more exam questions are based on HOTS questions or KBAT (in Malay). As parents we have to keep ourselves abreast with what our children are learning at school in order to guide them.

What is HOTS/KBAT?

The acronym HOTS stands for High Order Thinking Skills. KBAT is the Malay equivalent which is "Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi"

HOTS is based on various taxonomies of learning, and in particularly the 1956 book by Benjamin Bloom the "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals." 

Bloom’s Taxonomy was designed with six levels to promote higher order thinking. The six levels are- knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.  Bloom’s aim was to promote higher forms of thinking in education, such as analyzing and evaluating, instead of just teaching students to remember and regurgitate facts (rote learning). 

It is important for educators to guide the thinking process starting from kindergarten so that students can progress from LOTS (Lower Order Thinking Skills) to HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills).

The aim is to help students progress from remembering (gathering information) to understanding (confirming the information gathered), to applying (making use of knowledge), to analyzing (taking information apart) and finally evaluating (judging the outcome).

How Parents Can Help

If students use higher-order thinking skills and practice problem solving regularly, then thinking will become a habit!

“Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.” – The Critical Thinking Community (2015)

Parents can help their children practice HOTS till it becomes a habit. Parents, especially those with kids from P1 to P3 who are worried about not knowing how their children are progressing can help their children practice by using assessment books focusing on these types of HOTS questions being asked in today's school exam papers based on our National curriculum.

HOTS Practice Books by Oxford Fajar

At Oxford Fajar, Topical Practice Books are designed to enable students to grasp key points  from each topic with HOTS questions and answers.

Primary school titles include, Drill In, Smart Practice and Effective Practice for both SK and SJK.
Let’s Practice Series for DLP schools – Let’s Practice is the series where Maths and Science subjects are taught in English in Schools under the  DLP programme. (DLP = Dual Language Programme where Math and Science are taught in English in participating schools).

Secondary school titles include Drill In, Smart Practice, Effective Practice and Big Ideas


Model Test Papers on the other hand are designed for students to prepare for their examinations. The exercises are modelled after actual examination format and are crafted according to the requirements and learning objectives of the national curriculum. Students, parents or teachers can use these test papers to evaluate in preparation for exams which are moving towards HOTS and away from LOTS. Students need frequent practice to embrace this change and make it a habit.

It is important to get relevant and high quality workbooks from trusted publishers because there are many types out there however they may not be valid to the current syllabus.

There is Score In and Achieve for all major exams (UPSR, PT3 & SPM). For non major exam years there is Get Ahead or Exam Prep titles

Why HOTS is Good for Students

With HOTS or critical thinking skills students who are talented in many areas have the opportunity to discover these talents. Unlike the previous rote learning models, students with broader interests are encouraged and rewarded.

In today's open society created by advanced digital technology, innovation and creativity is the key towards success. The ability to think critically and creatively, to collaborate with others, and to communicate clearly sets students up for success in their careers and in life.

This post was brought to you by Oxford Fajar Malaysia.

Facebook Giveaway

5 Lucky winners stand a chance to win a set each of Practice Workbooks tailored for their child's level. Join giveaway here.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Digital Textbooks For SK, SJKC, SJKT and SMK for Std 1 to Form 5

I find that one of the things that frustrates parents the most is the lack of information. For example, some parents may know that there are some digital textbooks available somewhere online for SK, SJKC, SJKT and SMK for Std 1 to Form 5 but just where are the download links, few have an idea.

Previously, I did write about the download links for free etextbooks for primary and secondary school. I wrote this in March 2019, now not even a year on, and the links are no longer working.
This is what is so frustrating. The lack of proper dissemination of information to whom it matters, parents, students and teachers.

Perhaps the teachers know it and have passed the information on to the students. I have no idea but as a parent, I have to search very hard in order to find the information I need.

Anyway some of these links have been shared by parents in our group because they received it through whatsapp messages. I am putting them all together here for parents to easily find and access the links to these etextbooks.

The links are for digital textbooks for Std 1 to Form 5 for SK, SJKC, SJKT and SMK or SMJK.
Note that some of the books lists are incomplete.

Std 1 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 1 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1c1B0CJ_tZETMsYG7BvOdoBASFhxzKxNZ

Std 2 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 2 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1V1Mu1Da_I6pkI_xXvts-vF7i519wpo3X

Std 3 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 3 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1YD0zU7pbplYWKVnpOhzkfKA592K08Dpe

Std 4 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 4 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sRTQMVW3O9gTkWRelsNwe0MxqGKQ5Cr7

Std 5 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 5 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1wZSVxoLc6ieTZ3bXowS1BezPFJfeeOcl

Std 6 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tahun 6 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1H81PnAehEV_wmDwS52heeFLcUBg6HnSj

Form 1 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tingkatan 1 - https://drive.google.com/open?id=1mGwDaFQ5V140nYO0Di46Y2Yg_1HVl8jo

Form 2 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tingkatan 2 -  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1UKJAG_uI4oiMR-U1_ITuURCFpr1n5QDd

Form 3 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tingkatan 3 -  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1rkG6PFTaxxTBLesejbPImNnoCtfApoj0

Form 4 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tingkatan 4 -  https://drive.google.com/open?id=17kgQm6CFA7QR4xgTro_7a7TGLv55ck_o

Form 5 etextbooks download link:
BTDA Tingkatan 5 -  https://drive.google.com/open?id=16iHry-5EYHG01Pou4wk5FIfJErGaZ-rj

Friday, January 03, 2020

My thoughts on PT3, DLP, KSSM and Form 4 streaming

I have received a lot of private messages from parents as well as questions raised in the comments sections on our Malaysia Secondary School Parents Group on Facebook. Though I try my best to, sometimes I may miss out replying to some of these messages so I shall attempt to address some of the issues or questions raised in this post.
Firstly, the picture shows the Form 4 books for 2020 for a Science stream student. Well, there isn't supposed to be anymore streaming, but rather one can select "packages" to decide on the subjects one would like to take in Form 4. Reading into some of the comments in our group, it would seem that the packages are not easy to implement. Implementation is never easy. There's the problem of logistics and availability of teachers and classrooms and scheduling and all that. We won't go into that because that is not the purpose of this post. Anyway, we decided to take the safest route by selecting pure sciences to have more options for tertiary studies later on. Now back to the textbooks. Here are some things one can note just by looking at the textbooks. 1. DLP - Dual Language Programme

If you are doing DLP and in science stream. Most of what you will be sitting for in SPM is in English (see the top half of books, they are all in English, Math, Add Math, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English with the literature components (the four little books at the top right corner). This is good for those who is more comfortable speaking in English. It really helps. If your child is one of those, you should try your best to get into a DLP school. Note that not all schools run DLP school wide. Some open one or two classes, so you have to make sure you ask about the criteria of getting into those classes. Just because the school you are applying to is a DLP approved school does not necessarily mean your child will automatically get to do Math and Science in English unless the school is running it school wide. Note that, Arts stream students will be doing less subjects in English. The bottom half are those in BM including BM and the BM literature books (KOMSAS or Komponent Sastera), Sejarah, Moral and PJPK. PJPK is not tested in SPM. We also have Chinese but those not doing Chinese won't need that.

2. KSSM subjects: Asas Sains Komputer (ASK) and Rekabentuk dan Teknologi (RBT) This is another frequently asked question mainly by parents with children going into Form 1 in secondary school. The two subjects ASK and RBT are new subjects under the KSSM syllabus. Note that some schools offer students a choice to select either one of the two whereas some offer only one choice so you need to check with your school. Whichever it may be, once you start in Form 1, you carry on learning the subject till Form 3. It looks like ASK or RBT subjects are learned from Form 1 to Form 3 since there is no textbook for this in Form 4 as shown above. 3. PT3 This is another frequently asked question. Students from last year, 2019 will tell you that they are the first and final batch for PT3 changes. They are the first batch to do PT3 with a new structure and they are the last batch to do PT3 as a centralised exam. To answer some of the questions from parents, there will still be PT3 in 2020. However, it is no longer a centralised exam like UPSR or SPM. It will be a fully school based exam just like the mid term or year end examinations. There have been some sharing on social media on PT3 exam dates. Do not let that confuse you. Even if the dates were set to be the same for all schools, the exams is not a centralized one going forth starting from this year 2020. I also received some questions on how to study for PT3. Well, here are a few quick tips. Quick Tips for PT3 - Consistent study is necessary so instill a study habit in students early - When it comes to Science, one must be very specific, if you write off point, the mistakes you make will cancel off the parts which you got correct (within the same question) so memorize your keywords well - There will be essay like question in Sejarah. For these types of questions, especially KBAT (Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi) or HOTS (High Order Thinking Skills) questions, unlike Science, you can write as much as you know and your mistakes won't cancel out the right answer as long as you touched on it in your overall answer. - For the languages, English, BM and Chinese, one needs to practice reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. BM writing and BM Lisan are counted as two separate papers wheres the speaking and listening parts of English and Chinese are counted and included as one paper together with the writing test. There is no short cut for languages. One just has to read a lot to build vocabulary and practice consistently to improve writing skills. - For papers with projects, Geografi, Sejarah, ASK or RBT, just follow teacher's instructions and do them well. It will help as they are included in the overall subject marks. - Finally, practice makes perfect in Mathematics so get workbooks to do frequent practice.
I hope this answers some of the questions raised by parents by pm or in our FB group. Sorry I am unable to reply to each one individually.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Revision Books From Oxford Fajar

In our previous post, we wrote about Oxford Fajar's Complete Study Solution which includes resources to help students revise, practise, assess and reinforce their learning.

This post touches on the first level of books recommended for students at the start of a school year ie Revision Books.

Revision Books by Oxford Fajar provide comprehensive notes covering the essential concepts and facts of each topic and present them in a clear manner. Examples and tips are included to bolster students' understanding.

Revision Books published by Oxford Fajar are catered to student's learning styles

Did you know that the Revision Books series published by Oxford Fajar are actually tailored to cater to student's learning styles? This insight will be useful to you when selecting books to buy for your child's revision.

For Visual Learners

The Amazing series is designed for visual learners ie students who study best with diagrams, charts, and full coloured images. These books will have more visual guides for students who study best visually. Below are examples of the Revision Series books. - Amazing Sains and Amazing Matematik Tambahan for Form 4 students.

Additional digital resources such as videos, notes, interactive quizzes help students learn more effectively.

For Comprehensive Learning

The Success Series are for learners that need full comprehensive revision books. These books are detailed with comprehensive notes for each topic including examples and tips. Below are examples of the Success Series - Success Bahasa Melayu UPSR and Success Science KSSM PT3

For Quick Revision on-the-go

The Whizz Thru Series as its name suggest is a compact guidebook with notes and exercises designed for learners on-the-go looking for a quick revision to guide them through their lessons. Below are examples of the Whizz Thru Series - Whizz Thru Matematik KSSM PT3 and Whizz Thru UPSR Express Notes English.

Did you find this information useful? We hope this knowledge of how the publication of these revision books have been done with careful design and purpose will help you choose the right revision guides for your child.

This post was brought to you by Oxford Fajar Malaysia.

Wish to try a set of these revision books? Join our Facebook giveaway. 5 lucky winners will have the chance to win a set of revision guides for your child's level whether primary or secondary school.

Join Giveaway here.

Friday, December 13, 2019

When is Chinese New Year Holidays 2020

When is Chinese New Year 2020?

It's December 2019 right now. Isn't it a bit early to talk about Chinese New Year school holidays? School hasn't even started yet! However, as most of us Malaysians know, we have to plan ahead for everything. If you are going to be travelling around this time, you need to book your flight or bus tickets and there's accommodation to take care of too.

In 2020, Chinese New Year falls on 25th and 26th January. Well, that just happens to be a Saturday and a Sunday. What about the Chinese New Year festive school holidays?

According to the Festive Holiday calendar issued by the Ministry of Education, the Chinese New Year school holidays is as follows:

22 Jan (Wed) and 23 Jan (Thur) for schools in Kumpulan A
23 Jan (Thur) and 24 Jan (Fri) for schools in Kumpulan B

What this means...

  • Schools in Kumpulan A which observe Fri and Sat as weekends ie Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu will have days off from 22 - 26 Jan 2020 (Wed to Sun). School reopens on the 3rd day of CNY for schools in Kumpulan A
*CP = Cuti Perayaan allocated to schools for CNY festive holiday

** 24th Jan is a weekend, therefore it is an off day

  • Schools in Kumpulan B which observe Sat and Sun as weekends ie Perlis, Pulau Pinang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya will have days off from 23 - 27 Jan 2020 (Thur to Mon). Schools reopen on the 4th day of CNY for schools in Kumpulan B

*CP = Cuti Perayaan allocated to schools for CNY festive holiday

** Monday, 27th January 2020 is a replacement day off for Kump B which observes Sat and Sun as weekend

Now that you know the dates, you can use these dates as a guide to plan your balik kampung trips. It's only slightly over a month away.

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