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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Learning Through Play

This post was brought to you by British Council Malaysia.

If you’re a parent of a primary-level student, you probably find yourself wondering if there’s any educational value in the games your child is playing. Do kids learn by playing and is there a way to capitalise on this to get your kid to learn English?

Different types of play

Play is said to be an integral part of growing up. Most parents won’t need to be told what the definition of ‘play’ is – they would probably agree that it’s when kids are running around playing together or playing games. But did you know that there are different types of play[1]? Generally defined as ‘a fun activity’, play ranges from free play (such as running around with other kids without much adult supervision), guided play (where adults scaffold, or help the children), games (with rules set by an adult) and direct instructions (an adult-designed activity setting constraints on play). While all forms of play are beneficial, in education, it is the guided play, games and direct instructions which we focus on.

Play in education

Arguments for learning through play date back as far as the 5th century BCE when Plato[2] highlighted the value of play when learning, as opposed to using force, as this empowers children to be naturally drawn to the subject matter, and not scared of it. It wasn’t until much later, however, that learning through play became a norm.

Modern approaches to play in education draw from theories developed by Vygotsky[3] who spoke of zone of proximal development (ZPD). In a nutshell, this notion refers to the gap between what a learner can do on their own, and what they can do with the support of an adult. Thanks to such guidance, a student is said to make progress much faster than working on their own. Vygotsky believed that through interactive and social play, children developed their higher mental functions.

Play in English Language Learning

In the classroom, we aim to help young learners to learn through play by tapping into their ZPD by focussing on tasks they can do with the support and guidance from a teacher. With time, students learn to perform tasks independently. Many classroom activities focus on play as a vehicle for learning.

Role plays are an example of a fun activity which allows children to develop their English language skills in a fun way. While younger children often come up with their own make-believe scenarios and act them while playing on their own, in class, teachers help set up such an activity, to ensure kids get the most language benefits from it.

An example from the British Council

As part of their course, students are asked to act out a role play based on a clip they watched, for example, Shaun the Sheep. They would normally be assigned roles, e.g., one person is Shaun, another the Farmer, another Bitzer etc. Students have time to think of an alternative ending to a story, for example what happened after Timmy was supersized? The teacher helps with a brainstorm, encouraging creative thinking and the sharing of ideas, they help students put their ideas on paper and give support with the language. Finally, the students have an opportunity to act out their play. As role plays are consistently done in several lessons, the students become more independent, and with time, learn how to use the language from these make-believe scenarios, in daily life, independently. Research[4] has shown that students greatly benefit from role plays, e.g., by improving their vocabulary, complexity of syntax, and pronunciation.

© British Council

Games are another great example of structured play, which helps students learn new language while having fun. Students learn by discovering, processing, and applying new information. They also have a competitive element which kids often find highly motivating.

Through repetition and experimentation kids synthesise language rules and develop higher-level thinking skills.

An example from the British Council

In the classroom, kids are learning to speculate. This is a new, abstract concept and involves using a sophisticated grammar structure called ‘conditionals’. It means students need to remember several rules at the same time to from sentences like ‘If I was the president, I’d give out free candy every Friday.” The activity is set up by having the teacher introduce the language using a recording from the Primary Plus magazine. In the recording, kids are talking about what they would do if they were president. Following an explanation of the rules, the children play a game. Online, this means reshuffling the words to form appropriate sentences, in the physical classroom, they are organising cut-ups. The activity is learner centred, engages students to work in a team and helps them remember the new rule. The competitive factor (who gets most correct, who finishes first) adds to the excitement and helps them learn without being stressed out.

Play does not take away from learning

Many research findings[5] show that parents in Asia may not see the advantage to imaginative play. Often, understanding the teacher’s perspective on the ‘fun’ activities done in class helps parents understand its value. If you’d like to know more about the British Council approach to teaching and learning, please book a free consultation with our friendly consultant.


[2] D’Angour,Armand. (2013). Plato and play: taking education seriously in Ancient Greece .American Journal of Play, 5 (3), 293-307

[3] Daniels, H.(2016). Vygotsky and pedagogy.New York:Routlegde

[4] Korat, O., Bahar, E., & Snapir, M .(2003). Sociodramatic play as opportunity for literacy development: The teacher’s role. The Reading Teacher, 56, 386–393

[5] Singer, D.G., Singer, J. L., D'Agostino, H., & DeLong, R. (2009). Children’s pastimes in sixteen Nations. American Journal of Play, 1, 283-312.

Monday, September 12, 2022

Raising Students to have a Strong Foundation in Three Languages

This post is brought to you by Taylor’s International School.

Many Malaysian students have to learn several languages at school. How will they be able to master a few languages at the same time?

Taylor’s International School (TIS) prepares students for the future with a strong foundation in three languages, English, Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia. At TIS, these three languages are an integral part of the curriculum. We strongly believe language learning is very important as it brings huge benefits to both our students’ personal lives and career prospects. Learning different languages helps students appreciate different cultures. With better cultural and language awareness, students will have a sense of what it is to be a global citizen in an interconnected world.

Taylor's International School
TIS students have been consistently achieving IGCSE examination results of 90% to 100% for languages over the past six years.

How do our students master the three languages?

Below are the testimonials of top students in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mandarin and their thoughts on learning these three languages at TIS.

Gan Eronn, a Year 11 student from TIS Kuala Lumpur and a top scorer for the IGCSE Malay language paper, shares how the unique teaching style at TIS has helped him to develop a deep interest and passion for the language.

“My teachers always emphasize the importance of understanding and applying critical thinking to lessons rather than just getting the answers. Not only will we be more efficient in our daily life by being able to communicate with other Malaysians, but knowing the National language well helps to build a deeper connection and love for our country,” says Eronn when it comes to the need of learning Bahasa Malaysia.

English is used as the main medium of instruction at TIS while Mandarin is given equally important focus. According to Year 11 student Shuen Tan Jia Xuan from TIS Puchong,

“Studying at TIS after transferring from a Chinese school has given me more opportunities to communicate in English and strengthen my written and listening skills. With my familiarity with both English and Mandarin, I am confident that I’ll have better job prospects in the future,” says Shuen Tan. 

Year 11 student Ainul Sabariah from TIS Puchong who scored a superb grade A* in Mandarin for IGCSE, believes that learning more than one language is a great asset.

“Learning a new language exposes and encourages an appreciation for the traditions and history of the people associated with that language and allows me to connect with a wide range of cultures,” she said.

Why does TIS focus on these three languages?

- Enhances employability and career options. Only speaking in one’s native language is no longer enough if you want to pursue a career with a global company. Speaking more than one language enhances employability and career options, as many companies specifically request for multilingual jobseekers.

- Improves executive functioning skills. It has been proven that learning two or more languages from an early age increases executive functioning skills. Students will be able to think more creatively, have better time management, improved memory as well as better organization overall when they learn to juggle the learning of several languages at the same time.

- Helps in the understanding and appreciation of other cultures. One important advantage of multilingualism is the ability to accept, understand and adapt to different cultures, countries and situations. Students will learn to appreciate other traditions and cultures better when they learn the language of different races.

- Better business opportunities in the future. At TIS, students’ study two of the most widely spoken languages in the World; English and Mandarin. China is the world’s second-largest economy and Malaysia’s largest trading partner. Hence, learning Mandarin gives our students enormous advantages for career and business opportunities in later life.

- Useful to learn our National language for better communication and for those who wish to practice law or medicine locally. While it is important to focus on English and Mandarin due to global trends and demand, one should not forget about Bahasa Malaysia. As the official language in Malaysia, it is widely used in all official communication and an important language to learn, especially for those who wish to practice law and medicine locally. It is also useful to be able to communicate with everyone in fluent Bahasa Malaysia as you go about your daily life. 

In raising our students for the world of tomorrow, TIS prepares its students to be outstanding learners for the recruitment market. At TIS, we build a strong foundation in three languages and our students have made us proud by consistently achieving outstanding IGCSE examination results of 90% to 100% for languages over the past five years.

If you are thinking of choosing an international school with an excellent language programme, call 03-9200 9898 (Kuala Lumpur campus) or 03-5879 5000 (Puchong campus) for more information and to have all your queries answered.

Making the Right Choice with Taylor's

Enquire with us today to get a FREE copy of TIS Essential Guide. We will share with you some insightful information why Taylor’s International School (TIS) should be your school of choice.

Taylor’s International School prepares students with a strong foundation in three languages to ensure they have a lingual dexterity in the ever-competitive global stage.
Disclaimer: All photos were taken before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

When is Deepavali 2022 school holidays?


Deepavali public holiday this  year is on Monday, 24 October 2022
. In addition, schools have been given extra 2 days off for the Deepavali school festive holidays. Add 2 days of weekend and the total number of days off is 5 days as follows.

For schools in Kumpulan A which are schools in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, the extra 2 days off are on Sunday, 23 October 2022 and Tuesday, 25 October 2022. Since these states observe Friday and Saturday as a weekend. Therefore schools from Kumpulan A will have Deepavali 2022 School Holidays from Friday, 21 October 2022 until Tuesday, 25 October 2022. 

As for all other states which observe Saturday and Sunday as weekend ie Schools in Kumpulan B, the extra Deepavali School Festive holidays is Tuesday, 25 October 2022 and Wednesday, 26 October 2022. This means that schools  from Kumpulan B will have Deepavali 2022 School Holidays from Saturday, 22 October 2022 until Wednesday, 26 October 2022.

The exception is Sarawak. Since Deepavali is not a public holiday in Sarawak, schools are given the extra day off on Monday 24 October 2022, schools in Sarawak will therefore have Deepavali 2022 School Holidays from Saturday, 22 October 2022 until Monday, 24 October 2022.

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