Monday, December 10, 2018

FABLife - Venna Indox: Natural Fruit & Enzyme Supplement

*Overhead in MRT*

"Could you help me tabao (pack) ban mian for me? Tell them don't add vegetable....Yes... remember NO VEGETABLE!"
How many of you have such specific request when ordering food?  *ahem* Not me, I only request for lesser pork or no pork, I prefer my greens to the meat.

Well, there is a reason why your Mum nagged at you to have more fruits and vegetables when you were young. This is because besides being an important part of healthy eating, they are also a good source of many nutrients and vitamins.  (Unless you have a medical condition that restrict your potassium intake you should eat a healthy amount of vegetable every meal.)  Having a healthy serving of fruits and vegetables also helps to lower your risk of getting chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke etc.

And I think the utmost important thing is that the natural insoluble fibers in vegetable, especially found in dark green leafy vegetables, not only strengthen your gastrointestinal muscle but they help food to move through your digestive tract more quickly for a fast quick dump into the toilet bowl.

The Importance of Healthy Digestive System
A healthy digestive system means a healthy body, mind and soul that enable us to live every day to our fullest; without much pain and discomfort, especially as we age.

Digestive disorder can cause diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and heartburn.

All the above can cause serious discomfort and disruption to our lifestyle.  If you had experienced it you will know that it comes with abdominal pain, bloatedness, passing foul smelling wind and a feeling of blockage inside.  So, what is consider a poor bowel habit?  If you visits the toilet to dunk your waste less than 3 times per week, you have a bowel issue.  

Of course many things contributes to having this symptom such as stress, not drinking enough water, lack of exercise, lack of fibers in diet, poor eating habit, holding back the urge to pass stool, medication, chronic illness so on and so forth.

FABLife Venna Indox
Okay, you don't like your greens nor fruits and have a busy lifestyle that makes you neglect your internal body, that is not the end of the world because FABLife's Venna Indox, a natural fruit and enzyme supplement is here!

What is Venna Indox?
Venna Indox (UP SGD48.50) contains 10 major ingredients including apple fiber, oat & wheat fiber, raspberry, plumberry, aloe vera, mutlienzyme, green tea, wheatgrass, galactooligosaccharide and mix fruits powder.   Venna Indox proves effective in promoting a healthy digestive tract, supporting efficient nutrient absorption and boosting metabolism, processes that are crucial in maintaining regular body functions.

Note : Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), also known as oligogalactosyllactose, oligogalactose, oligolactose or transgalactooligosaccharides (TOS), belong to the group of prebiotics. Prebiotics are defined as non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by stimulating the growth and/or activity of beneficial bacteria in the colon - taken from wiki, read more about it here.

Features taken from Venna Indox brochure 
★ Purify Colon 净化肠胃
★ Detoxification 排毒瘦身
★ Boost Immunity 提高免疫力
★ Promote Liver Protection 解酒护肝
★ Beauty & Wellness 美容养颜
★ Enhances Cell Revitalisation 活化细胞
★ Regulate Body Function 调理机能

Why do we need Enzyme supplement?
Simple answer - because our body do not produce enough enzyme efficiently to keep our body healthy and functioning well as we age.

Enzymes are like our kaypoh aunties or busy bodies who love to stick their nose into every activities in the neighbourhood.  In enzymes case, it insist in participating in every chemical reactions in your body!

Enzymes is a type of protein that can be found throughout our body, they help build muscles, destroying toxic and they work with stomach acid and bile to break down food into molecules for a wide range of bodily functions.

As we age, coupled with poor eating habit and lifestyle, it means that we are not getting enough enzyme to replenish those that we lost.  This leads to weak immune system, occurrence of headaches or dizzy spells, muscle aches or joint pains, food or skin allergies, indigestion or constipation.

To compensate that, change in eating habits; means including enzyme rich food, take probiotics or taking dietary enzymes supplements.

How does Enzyme aid our digestive tract?
Every day we consumed food that contains starch or carbohydrate, they are turned into glucose after being broken down by the enzymes in the digestive tract to give our body energy.  

In cases where there are excessive starch or digestive enzyme deficiency, these starch clings to our intestinal wall causing blockage that in turn leads to the issues we mentioned earlier about healthy digestive system.

The same theory goes for Venna Indox, the enzyme in it does the same function too but in the all natural way, check out the video below.

The Smell & Taste Testing

I know some of you do not like to take supplements because of its smell and taste, so let me do a little sniffing and tasting for you.

After I opened up a packet of Venna Indox, I took a whiff at the content inside and as expected it smell like all other supplements - funny dry smell with a tinge of fruity fragrance (DinoPapa said it smell like money hahaha!).

We were told to mix Venna Indox with 200ml of either cold or room temperature water because warm water tends to turn the mixture jello-liked faster, give it some quick stir to dissolve the content  and consume all of them immediately.  You wouldn't want to take you time to sip the drink because it will turn jello-liked in no time.

The color of the mixed drink does not look appealing (as you can see from the photo above) but surprisingly it didn't taste as weird, I actually like it a lot because of the fruity taste in it and I chugged the whole cup down in  few seconds.  YUM~   

We were supposed to consume 2 sachets per day continuously for 6 days to for the optimal effect.

The Conclusion

Recently I had a bad course of constipation, a good time to try out Venna Indox~  yippeee~ 

I took one sachet an hour or so after my dinner one night and thought nothing else of it because it takes about 6 to 8 hours for our body to react to the supplement.  I went on my daily routine as usual the next day, I did not feel any discomfort like tummy churning, hearing rumbling sound in my stomach etc till the end of the day where I started to feel a little discomfort.  After dinner that night, I was relaxing in front of my laptop when suddenly I have this super pain tummy-ache with an urge to purge, I dashed into toilet to the bewilderment of DinoPapa because he has never seen me run so fast into it!

Needless to say, I spent quite some time sitting on the toilet bowl emptying my waste that *ahem* came out quite smoothly.  I was so much relieved when I stepped out of the toilet.

Although we were told that it will take a couple of days for the supplement to help us clear our intestinal waste, it took me 1 sachet and 12 hours, so I guess perhaps individual body will start reacting to it at different time.

Venna Indox is made from natural fruit loaded with enzyme, it worked well on me with no significant side effect (such as allergy) it will be one of the supplement that I will include in my diet to boost my body's energy and health.

*** *** *** *** ***

#13-02 SINGAPORE 198785
Contact by Email
Website :  
Facebook : FABLife Style

Disclaimer : We were invited to a private gathering at FABLife's flagship store to have first hand experience on their products for the purpose of this post.  All opinions in this post are 100% ours and based on our user experience of the products.  All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not take them for personal use without our prior permission.

An important thing to note : If you are on medication or suffers from chronic illness, please seek your doctor's approval before consuming Venna Indox.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Chinese Composition with Fun Learners' School

All of you know that DinoBoy is a "potato kid" meaning that he converses in English most of the time and that his Mandarin is weak.  I should have persisted and stood my ground to make a greater effort to get him interested in the language when he was a toddler.  I didn't see it as a big issue as he was doing okay in kindergarten but I started to get panic when he enters into formal education, his Chinese language grade has always been along the borderline during the lower primary days, we really struggled to learn the language.  I am glad to say that 2 years ago, our effective ways of learning Chinese managed to pull his grade up a little.

Then comes another challenge - Chinese composition.  For a component that carries 20% weighing, composition wasn't given much attention in the school from the number of composition pieces DinoBoy brought home, this means that the teachers do not have enough lessons to coach the students in this area.  

Chinese being his weaker subject means writing poses an issue too, I didn't want composition to affect his overall marks but I am unable to help him because I do not know how to grade a piece of composition nor have any idea how to coach him on writing, therefore I decided to seek for external help.  

We decided to let DinoBoy join Fun Learners' School PSLE Chinese Composition.  We attended their workshops last year and like the way they facilitate the workshop.  We went for a trial and found out that their lessons are as interesting too.

What goes on in the classroom
The simple white colored wall classroom does not have any fancy furniture, except for that 2 notice at the front there are no posters or anything on the wall.  A long table, some chairs and a projector screen decorates the room.  A clean room means minimum distractions.

A typical lesson starts with spelling which can either be a short sentence or idioms 成语 or powerful words/phrases 好词好句.

Lesson follows with the start of discussion on that day's composition which could be picture based composition 看图作文 or topic based composition 命题作文.  Teacher will guide the students in analysing each picture or the topic with SAFE; Speech Action Feelings Expression, listing down relevant keywords or phrases and writing idioms that best describe the events or situation.  It is then followed by reading model composition, sometimes extra work is given to practice and strengthen their use of language, idioms and characters.

Lastly the students will be given 50 mins; the same amount of time given during PSLE exam, to write their composition.  The students have to finish composition by end of the lesson, no home work will be given to them.

Each student has a Journal where the teacher keep tracks of their individual progress, she will write encouragements & advice to them on their work and praise them when they do well.

I may have written to show that lesson structure is easy and simple BUT if your child does not have a strong foundation for Chinese either written or speech, chances are they are weak in structuring the composition piece with all the necessary elements to score or even ace it.  They will need assistant from experienced tutor to coach and supervise their learning progress. 

What makes Fun Learner's School different from the other tuition centres?
Children are simple minded; so to say, they either love or dislike something or some one.  When it comes to studying they automatically hates it... to the max especially for subjects that they are struggling with.  The more we force them to learn the more they will reject.

Fun Learners' School understands this and they inject some FUN into their lessons; pretty in line with the school's name ya?

For the composition class that DinoBoy attended, the atmosphere in the classroom has always been light-hearted, happy, relaxed and FUN.  At the end of each lesson the teacher will revise the stuffs they learn during that lesson with some games like pop quizz.  Prizes will be given to the one that scored the most during the game.  

This creates a FUN learning environment and we know children learn best when they are relaxed, intrigued and interested.  Fun Learners' School definitely hit the nail right on the head!

InteliNote - One great tool
With so many things to remember just to score that 40 marks, how did Fun Learners' School managed to get the students to remember most, if not all of them? 

Taking notes of course, but not just any notes, its Fun Learners' School InteliNote.

Since this InteliNote belongs to them, they are allowed to decorate the cover in any way they fancy, the same goes for the things that goes into the note book.  For example, the students from the composition class are encouraged to write down the things they learned during lessons, in school or even during their daily life.  They can pen down the idioms, phrases, good opening/ending in the notebook in ways that enable them remember it easily.  Being a visual learner DinoBoy does that by adding sketches or doodling relating to the notes.

I am not sure the true meaning of InteliNote but to me it is the Intelligent Notebook because they can write down so many things in that small note book.  I have seen the InteliNote from Science class, one glance of any page and you will see all the key points and important notes about any topic.  Very impressive!

Revising for composition is easy peasy, he go through his Composition InteliNote every week, here you see him studying the notes the morning before PSLE Chinese composition exam.

We achieved our goal!
Nothing beats showing the results, here are the 2 composition that DinoBoy did during the first lesson on April 2018 and last lesson on September 2018.  He managed to improve his composition in just 6 months with Fun Learners' School.  Now isn't that is amazing!  I would think that he could be scoring over 30 marks if he started months or even a year earlier.

This improvement was also reflected in his school composition.  As you can see from the photo I am sharing below, he scored a pass with the 1st composition he did in Primary 6, this is his "normal marks" as his usual composition marks over the years were between 20 to 22 marks, there were a few times he didn't managed to pass but that was mostly because he wrote off topic/theme.

His last composition in August 2018 showed an improved score of 4 marks, of course the marks fluctuated through the months but he managed to score a record high at the last minute!  I was hearten when I read his Chinese teacher's comment even though he used it incorrectly.  He had never use powerful phrases 好词好句in his composition because he does not know many and does not know how to use them, this clearly shows that he is putting the things he learned at Fun Learners' School into his school work.

Of course he is far from being a prolific writer but I am satisfied with the improvement in such a short period of tme, I can see that he has put in a lot of effort in and I am glad that his hard work paid off.  

We started our composition tuition with Fun Learners School around mid April 2018 till the end September 2018, just 1 day before the PSLE Chinese composition exam.  

Initially I was hesitant to start the tuition with Fun Learners' School as the school is located in the West part of town which is about an hour's travelling time away from our house.  The 2 hour plus travelling time and 1 hour 45 mins lesson time would mean that half of his Saturday is burnt.  I was worried DinoBoy would not have time to rest and revise his school work.  After thinking through and discussing with DinoPapa, I decided to bite the bullet and went forth with it, having the best interest for DinoBoy's learning.

Everything turned out to be fine!  DinoBoy looked forward to lessons every Saturday so he didn't find it a chore to travel that distance to and back.  

During this short journey of with them, I see DinoBoy gaining more confident in conversing in Mandarin and his vocabulary has increased significantly too.  From the pieces of composition he did in school and with Fun Learners School I can see that he is more expressive when describing incidents and feelings.  His sentence construction are more logical and with lesser grammatical error

From the tutor and teacher's comments in his composition, he still have a few flaws that needs to be addressed but with much practice writing he should improve in time to come.

I am impressed that Fun Learners' School helped Dinoboy improved his composition writing in short period of time!
I especially love the vibes in Fun Learners' School.  Most of the students have been with the school for a few years or since they were in Primary 1 so it is like a 2nd home to them, making the school like a big happy family.

The teachers and staffs, even the bosses too are friendly and approachable. Sometimes I meet them along the corridor, we will chat for a while before they rush off to their next class or finish their work.

We rarely see such unique relationship between bosses, staffs, teachers, students and parents.  Definitely a plus point that makes me decided to continue the lessons with Fun Learners' School.

I have asked DinoBoy to pen down his thoughts about attending Fun Learners' School Composition class, here's what he has to say.

Last but not least, if your child needs a boost in his or her Chinese composition, based on our successful journey with them, I will recommend that you give Fun Learners' School a try.  Call them now and arrange for a trial!

About Fun Learners' School

Photo taken from Fun Learners' School facebook with permission.
Fun Learners' School has been established for 13 years by Mr Chee Chin Young (Principal) and Ms Cha Pei Pei (Vice Principal), who are both qualified with Master Degree in Education.  Together with their team of  high achieving and qualified teachers with years of teaching experience under their belt, they have been inspiring children and guiding them to ace their academic with the unique teaching style and method (Concept Mapping, Blooms Taxonomy and Linchpin Competencies).  Their challenging teaching materials are in line with the current school curriculum and syllabus.  

They have classes from pre-primary to secondary, covering English, Maths, Chinese and Science subjects.  They also have classes specifically for PSLE students where they will work with the students intensively to ensure that they perform well during the PSLE exam.

Besides the regular classes they also have Ace my PSLE Camp, Speed Studying Strategies for Science and PSLE Camp.

Read more about the school here.

Fun Learners' School
Address : Blk 371, Bukit Batok Street 31, #02-328; #02-326, Singapore 650371
Tel: +65 6567 3208
Website :

Disclaimer : We were requested by Fun Learners' School to try out their PSLE Chinese composition class for a term for the purpose of this post.  No other compensation were received.   We decided to continue by paying for the lesson after seeing the improvement DinoBoy have shown.  All opinions in this post are 100% ours and based on our experience with Fun Learners' School.  All photos in this post belongs to The DinoFamily, you may not take them for personal use without our permission.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Great Moscow Circus Singapore 2018

Boasting the world’s most dangerous and death-defying acts, including the Wheel of Death and the Motorbike Sphere of Fear, THE GREAT MOSCOW CIRCUS sees the mighty red and white circus big top transformed into an astonishing, high octane, fun-filled entertainment destination.
The above was taken from The Great Moscow Circus website and truth to those words, it was an absolutely stunning and magnificent show ever!  We know it because we were there on their opening night on 25 October 2018!  Be prepared to sit at the edge of your seat, feeling tensed, excited and experiencing moments where your heart is in your mouth.  And remember cheer your lungs out for the great performance by all the superstar artists~

This circus is THE talk of the town because it is back after its last appearance here a decade ago, bringing along 16 acts from Russia and beyond!  So all eyes are on the artists who are expected to give their best during the 2 hours show (excluding 15mins of interval).  We were not disappointed!

On that day, we went to the circus feeling excited and full of anticipation, here's us with our exited grin, posing in front of the Big Top Tent.

Look who I spot while strolling in after clearing the security post?  My favourite local artist Ms Zoe Tay doing an interview and posing for photo with a few circus artists.

After snapping that photo we proceeded further in to take photos with some of the props around the small area.  Now that DinoBoy is older, he doesn't like to pose in front of photo props or wall, but he will do it to "entertain" this Mama thus we only have this one photo to share.

We quickly went into the tent and settled down on our seats while waiting patiently for the show to start. We were sitting near the ring entrance, sort of the back of the ring, we realized that we aren't getting the best view of the ring, this means that we will be looking at the back of the artists most of the time *bummer*.  Due to this reason we will only share with you videos and photos of best shots we took on that day.  Nonetheless, there are a handful of bloggers who attended the opening night, they are seated at different part of the ring so do a search and you will be able to see some of the other acts that we did not post here.

So, let's go!  Take a look at some of the acts you will be seeing at The Great Moscow Circus!

Stars from TV show 
You probably watched how Britain’s Got Talent contestant Sascha Williams with his Rolla Bolla balancing act and America’s Got Talent contestant Sixto and Lucia with their quick changing of clothes act stunned the judges, now you have a chance to see them up close and personal. 

Here's Sascha and part of his act on that day, or rather the back view of him (lol).  Now you understand our "plight"?

I have always like the wardrobe changing act since I was young and will glue my eyes to the TV to see if I can catch any flaws or see any loopholes during the act.  I never once managed to catch it, they change the clothes in a fraction of nano seconds.  In Sixto and Lucia's act they pulled it off without a hitch, a few shakes of the curtains and VOILA~ clothes changed!

The Catwalk Trampoline
The show started off with these acrobats jumping off the huge transparent structure onto the 2 huge trampoline to the upbeat music brought us immediately into an anticipating mood.  They wowed us with their acrobatic stunts, bouncing gracefully and effortlessly onto the trampoline in somersaults and flip while nimbly weaved through the structure. Bravo act!

Wheel of Death 
When these double giant wheels or Wheel of Death were pushed out into the ring, every one was in awe!  After they finally secured it and started to raise these wheels up I had a feeling that I am watching an Autobot transforming right before my eye!  I was too excited beyond words that I forgot to take a video of the process.

Here's a teaser of their act in the 2nd video, looks simple and easy but we were already cheering out loud for them (yupe that mad wow-ing was us in the background), wait till the acrobats get to the climax of their act, you will be so light headed from watching their dangerous stunts!

Globe of Death 
If the double wheels are Autobots than this 6.5 ton of steel, The Globe of Death feels mighty and indestructible like Jaegers in Pacific Rims. Just look at how it make its way out into the ring in a painstakingly slow pace.  This metal cage has to be a strong and sturdy to withstand the sheer speed and force caused by 5 motorcycles zipping round and round in high speed.

I didn't managed to catch all their act on video, this partial video was all I got and it definitely did not do justice to it.  You really have to be there on site to feel the adrenaline rush and the nail biting danger these riders went through.  

A note of caution, from where we were siting we can smell a strong whiff of petrol during and after the act, it wasn't choking but just an irritate to the nose.

Mega Skippers 
Some of us are skipping the rope as a form of exercise, we know it is takes a lot of stamina and persistent to continue skipping for that long to burn off some fats in our body. Imagine having to perform stunts while skipping to at least two ropes at the same time!

In this series of photo below you can see The Mega Skippers jumping with THREE ropes!  Not only do they have to swing the rope around for other team mates to jump, they have to jump to another rope too.  Amazing!

The Mega Skippers makes skipping as a big group looks so easy but we know that timing and coordination is an important factor, I bet they have to keep their eyes glued to a few things to ensure they don't mess up the act.

The Contortionist 
The only act that I can't bear to watch is The Contortionist.  I mean, it is one thing to be ultra flexible physically but it is another thing when a person can dislocate joints from all parts of his body easily and strike a pose with it. 

Here you can see The Contortionist coming out from what seems like a 2 feet fish tank to me.  How could some one so tall and *ahem* handsome fit himself into that small space???  This act was, as DinoBoy said "too cringingly painful to watch" thus I did not take any more photos or video after this short clip.  If you want to see more, go search for his act in the web, you will definitely be able to find some video of it.

The Ringmaster and the Clowns
The most important people in a circus is not the acrobats or jugglers, it is the Ringmaster and the clowns.  The Ringmaster plays an important role to keep the show going on smoothly and introducing the act before it starts.  Moscow Circus Ringmaster Stanislav Knyazkov did a wonderful job on that, together with his sidekick Vas  the funniest clowns Dmitry Shindrov and Bella, they kept the audience entertained with their witty act and the atmosphere lighthearted  in between acts or while equipment are being set up.

Stan and Vas

Dmirty and Bella
Everyone should go to the Moscow Circus
What makes The Great Moscow Circus a show not to be missed besides death-defying and daredevil stunts is that each act was performed without any safety rope attached to the artists nor safety net below them to "catch" them in case they miss a step and fall.  Such daring move only meant that the artists have absolute confidence in themselves and their team mates to execute their acts in 100% perfection.

Be captivated, charmed and wowed by jugglers, illusionist, bad ass bikers, aerial acrobats and clowns.  These amazing artists either come from generations of circus performers or are international performers. 

Dance to the lively music performed by a 3 man live band, which is something you rarely see in most circus.  The band provide music to all the acts throughout the 2 hours show, they even had a snippets of interactive performance with the Ringmaster. 

If like me, you have excitedly watched circus only on TV or internet you will be thrilled to see them in real life!  Trust me, nothing beats seeing these astounding performances happening right in front of your own eyes!

A truly fun-filled show that the whole family will enjoy, not forgetting making it a memorable day for every one. DinoBoy and I were cheering and screaming in excitement on top of our voice throughout the whole 2 hours.  This just show what great performance these superb artists gave!

Grab your tickets before it is SOLD OUT!

About the Big Top Tent
Wipe the image of a HUGE breath taking Big Top that you saw in the movies, or in other circus you have seen in real life, The Moscow Circus Big Top Tent is nothing of that sort.  It probably look tiny as compared to those tents.  However, the size of the tent does not mean compromising of sitting comfort and viewing pleasure.

The full air conditioned BIG TOP TENT stands at a circumference of 40m and about 18.5m high, the seats are elevated, and tiered, enough space to guarantee that when you raise your arms to cheer you do not land your elbow on your neighbour's head *ouch*.

The fully air-conditioned tiered tent can accommodate 1,600 people a show, with no audience member being more than 11m from the action in the ring.
- Straits Times

Even though the Big Top Tent promises a good view for every one but there will be some seats with restricted view either because of the steel poles that holds up the tent or the seating arrangement.  We were seated at Section G and there was a steel pole on our right (as you can see in our videos) we pretty much have a small window to watch some of the acts.

Take a look at the seating plan below and decide which section you want to get. If you have the money to spare and wanted a once in a life time experience of watching the act up close and personal then I strongly suggest that you go for ringside seats.

Seating Plan taken from SISTIC

Things to do before heading to the Big Top Tent

  • Have you dinner first unless you can survive on expensive popcorn and drinks for the next 2.5 hours.
  • Visit the little boys or little girls rooms at Marina Bay Convention Centre; unless you don't mind doing your business in those portable toilet that can be found near the Snacks Bar.
  • The air condition system in the Big Top Tent is strong, you may need a jacket if it gets too chilling for you but I doubt so because you will be too pumped up with adrenaline to feel the cold.

Things to note

  • Infant in arms and children below 3 years old may be admitted without a ticket.  Patron 3 years and above must purchase a ticket for entry
  • Show starts on the dot at 7.30pm so arrive early to avoid missing part of the act.
  • No Flash Photography, Video recording and Audio recording are permitted for this event.
  • No outside food or drinks allowed

Show Details
The Mighty Big Top,
Bayfront Avenue,
next to Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Show Date
25 October 2018 to 25 November 2018

Show time
Tue - Fri: 7.30pm
Sat & Public Holidays: 12pm & 4pm
Sun: 11am & 3pm

Tickets Pricing
Standard : S$155, S$145, S$135, S$115, S$95, S$85, S$65
Child [3 to 12 years old]* : S$135, S$125, S$105, S$85, S$75, S$55
Senior Citizen [60 years and above]: S$135, S$125, S$105, S$85, S$75, S$55
Restricted View : S$85, S$65
Restricted View (Child) [3 to 12 years old]* : S$75, S$55
Restricted View (Senior Citizen) [60 years and above] : S$75, S$55

Online Booking
Visit SISTIC for booking

Disclaimer : We were invited to the opening night of The Great Moscow Circus by Sliding Doors Entertainment for the purpose of this post, no other compensation were received. All photos and videos in this post belongs to The Dino Family, you may not use them without our prior permission.  All opinions in this post are 100% ours and based on our experience during the show.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Be better prepared for PSLE with My English School

These days, our Sundays have gotten busier with DinoBoy attending support lessons at an English school. Thus far we have been coaching him on our own. However, we realized that there are some components in English for which we need to seek professional help.

Earlier this year we were given an opportunity to connect with My English School, and after attending a full term we decided to continue with them. This was mainly to help DinoBoy prepare for the last leg of Primary school – the PSLE or Primary School Leaving Examination.

Why did we make this decision now?
As far as language is concerned, the schooling system in Singapore has a bilingual education policy. This means that kids are taught both English and mother tongue: Mandarin, Malay or Tamil. English is also officially the main language of instruction in all subjects (except for mother tongue, of course). So, if a child doesn’t understand the fundamentals of English, they would probably struggle with other subjects as well.

Have you seen the primary school science and mathematics open-ended questions? Some are so complex that they could even confuse us adults. Kids who are weak in English have to struggle with understanding the language first before they can even attempt to solve these questions! It is undoubtedly an exasperating experience for them.

I feel that to master a language we must be able to articulate our thoughts using the right vocabulary to form logical and grammatically correct sentences. This is where DinoBoy struggles. Although he is articulate, he is not great at penning down his thoughts.

That is why I decided that it was time to get some help.

Why My English School?
My English School teaches children aged 2.5 to 12-years-old mainly at two levels – pre-primary and primary. Children are taught a variety of subjects including phonics, reading and primary school English.

They have their own in-house materials written by experienced curriculum writers who are former Ministry of Education (MOE) teachers. Therefore, we can be certain that their materials and classes are aligned to the current MOE syllabus.

Pre-primary classes
Younger children are taught through a systematic, structured reading programme to cultivate their phonemic awareness – i.e., the relationships between letters and sounds in the language.

Phonics is more than just knowing to pronounce a word. Knowing how to pronounce a word does not necessarily mean that the child understands the meaning of it, or its application. My English School recognizes this and have designed four levels of phonics classes to help students as they progress.

Primary Classes
After kids have gained confidence reading independently, they are promoted and prepped for English in Primary school.

My English School Primary programme provides ample support to children to ensure they have a good foundation before they enter Primary One.

You might agree that there are a few components in the English syllabus that kids struggle with – namely comprehension, comprehension cloze, composition and oral. The PSLE preparation classes aim to hone the techniques in these components so that they have greater confidence in tackling them during the examination.

DinoBoy seen here with the Centre's Manager
Here's what I particularly liked about MES:
Small class size
My English School classes are conducted in a classroom that can comfortably accommodate nine to 10 students and the teacher. I like this small student-teacher ratio because the teacher gets to know the kids better and is able to effectively help them in their weak areas.

Parents aren't allowed in class so this Mama had to take photo through the small window at the door
Lesson Structure
According to DinoBoy, his teacher first checks the previous week’s homework. She then helps the kids if they have any queries pertaining to the homework. The day’s lesson follows. DinoBoy further shared that classes are not boring nor rigid. Instead, they are “fun” and engaging, and sometimes games were played to help them learn new words or phrases.

Teacher guiding DinoBoy on Comprehension
MOE aligned curriculum
This is very important to me. The classes are made up of the following three categories:
  1. Productive Skills : Writing, Speaking, Representing
  2. Receptive Skills : Reading, Listening, Viewing
  3. Language Skills : Grammar, Vocabulary
Each week the teacher focuses on a different area, and I like that every component is given equal attention. Kids also have ample opportunities to practice and master their “answering techniques”.

How My English School helped with our challenges
Below is the examination format taken from SEAB or Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board, indicating the marks allocated for each component of the English paper. In DinoBoy's case, his challenges are composition, comprehension, comprehension cloze and oral: these carry the most marks.

I strongly believe that if he is able to improve his score in these components, his overall English marks will improve significantly.

Challenge #1 - Writing
Having difficulties transforming his ideas into written words becomes a problem for composition and comprehension for DinoBoy because these two components require him to write fluently. Without the ability to write confidently he is not able to produce a creatively crafted composition, nor answer the comprehension questions in logical sentences.

Language learning comes easy for me but I face difficulty when it comes to teaching. I tried to guide DinoBoy to expand his thoughts on composition story lines such as using the 4W1H method but failed miserably.

How My English School helped
At school, DinoBoy learnt to use the 4W1H method together with plot graphs and suspense indicator graphs to create an outline for his composition. However, I felt it didn’t work well as he scribbled (see below picture) words/phrases on the graph with ideas and story lines etc.

I also realized that he sometimes misses certain points written down on the graph which makes him veer off the topic. This causes him to not be able to resolve the problem or conclude the story.

My English School's simple helping sheet - my composition plan - lists out the necessary components required for the writing. This enables him to visualize his story better. There is also a section for him to write "power words" that he thinks should be used in his composition. These power words or phrases will definitely fetch him some extra marks!

Another plus point is that the teacher requests the students to read comprehension passages aloud. This not only gets the kids’ attention, but also allows them to practice for oral as she asks them to pay attention to their pronunciation, speed, pitch/tone when reading.

DinoBoy shared that his teacher encourages them to find the answer, but doesn’t point it out to them.

Challenge #2 - Oral
At school, DinoBoy has English read-aloud programmes per term, for which he scored level 4 out of 5 for both read-aloud and stimulus-based conversation. His form teacher commented that this is because his reading is not smooth, and that he hesitates.

During oral examinations, the examiner not only expects the student to speak confidently, but they also focus on good pronunciation, clear articulation, expressiveness and rhythm while reading and conversing.

I have tried to help him but it hasn’t proven to be successful as our ideas never match. I feel he needs someone to guide and coach him in this area but the school is unable to do so due to their tight teaching schedule.

Last year I shared briefly that DinoBoy has a mild stammering issue, which added to the problem. This not only affects his oral fluency – especially when he is in an exam-induced stressful situation – but it also has a major impact on his overall score.

How My English School helped
Upon starting classes at My English School, I informed the teacher about DinoBoy's slight stammer. I love that she took note of the problem and worked to help my boy.

To this day she keeps me updated about this, and recently mentioned that the stammering has reduced quite a bit. Her advice to him was to calm down, gather his thoughts and talk slower during a conversation or when answering questions.

Now that he has the guidance of a professional, I am confident that he will be better prepared in his oral exams when he sits for PSLE later this year.

DinoBoy's 1st Oral assessment
Continuous assessment progress reports
I received My English School’s term report before the end of the term. The students were graded on six main criteria.

We also had a parent-teacher meeting and I am heartened by the teacher’s feedback. She said that based on the two class tests done this term, DinoBoy is a strong middle B student. She added that if we continue working hard together he can easily push his mark to an A!

Final thoughts – kudos to teachers!
I believe that a child learns faster and better if they are able to connect with their teachers. Besides ensuring that the teachers are qualified, how they interact with students are of upmost importance too.

I remember asking DinoBoy about his first class at MES. All he said was, "ok lor, same as school." However, when I asked him about his teacher, his face lit up immediately. He excitedly told me that his teacher was friendly and approachable and that he loved to listen to her interesting stories.

She seems to be a big part of why DinoBoy is doing well at My English School.

But what was most touching was when he said that she encouraged him when he was unable to articulate his ideas and praised him for trying.

Despite having to wake up early on weekends to get ready for class, DinoBoy never protests; instead he looks forward to his class!

Even though there was no significant improvement in DinoBoy's results at his mid-term continuous assessment, I decided to let him continue with My English School mainly because I see tremendous potential for improvement if we continue on with the school.

I noticed that:
- When he does his school work, he no longer struggles with story line construction as he uses My English School's method of composition planning.
- He takes time to read through the comprehension cloze passage twice in order to understand the passage.

Back then with about five months to PSLE preliminary examination, we really do not have much time left. But I am confident that with the support from his teacher at My English School, DinoBoy's English results will definitely improve.

If you are interested to know more about My English School, check out their centre locations and give them a call. Alternatively, if you would like to let your child start their learning journey with them, simply just book an assessment with them.

Disclaimer: We were given a complimentary one term lesson at My English School for the purpose of this advertorial post. All photographs in this post belong to My DinoFamily, you may not use them without our permission. All opinions in this post are 100% based on our experience with My English School.

PS: For privacy purpose DinoBoy's My English School classmates were told to look down or hide their face when photos were taken so it is not that they are sloppy or uninterested in their lessons. On the contrary, they have excellent learning attitude!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Conquering Chinese Comprehension

Okay, raise your hands if your kid scores badly for Chinese.  *sigh* we are in your shoes too. Chinese is not DinoBoy's strong subject, when he failed the subject in Primary 2 we thought he would have put in more effort to work on the subject but apparently the effort is not enough.  His score averagely 60 marks through the years.  A 2nd bomb dropped onto his lap when he failed the subject by 2 marks earlier this year in CA1.  I almost passed out and disowned him!  When I laid my hands on Paper 2, my heart stopped a second time..  he scored 7 out of 22 marks in comprehension.  How in the world does someone score that kind of marks???

I realized that we have to do something about it otherwise the consequences will be disastrous!  

We attended the PSLE Chinese workshop earlier this year; you can read about it here, I decided to put the tips we learned on that day to good use.  And I am happy to share that DinoBoy scored better on his school's Chinese practice papers and passed SA1, not in flying colors but with a good grade.

I am heartened to see that he scored more marks in his comprehension, one of his weakest section and pulling down his overall marks.  I am sharing the tips I learned with you, hope it will help your child fare better in comprehension.

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When tackling comprehension I am sure the students know the drill very well but not many of them do it even though it has proven that those who did score higher marks than them.

Things to do before attempting comprehension questions
1. Read the passage carefully, preferably at least 2 times during this stage.
Most of us do not like to do this because we think we understand the passage with just one reading.  Well, that is true but for comprehension we are reading the passage with a purpose.

1st time reading - understanding the passage, identifying the theme/topic
2nd time reading - identify the 4W; Why Where When What of the passage or each paragraph.

2. Regardless of the comprehension passage story line, there is only ONE main theme or topic, once you have identify that answering the questions will be easy.  Here are some of the theme/topic as shared by the trainer (my English translation may not be exact but the meaning is still about the same).

- 热于助人 Being helpful to others
- 孝顺父母 Being filial to parents
- 为别人着想 Thinking of others
- 尊敬他人 Showing respect to others
- 团结合作 Cooperation & teamwork
- 做人要诚实 Honesty

Things to do while attempting comprehension questions
1. Read the questions at least 2 times, yes even for the questions.

1st time reading - understanding the question being asked.
2nd time reading - highlight important information such as "question. type", "character" and "keywords/sentences" either with different colored highlighters or by drawing lines, squares or circles.  Use this method while reading comprehension passages and questions.

See example below where circled words are "question type", underlined words are "character" and  squared words are "keywords/sentences".

Question example for notes/email/sms writing

Question example for comprehension
2. Read the passage; this would be your 3rd time reading it, to have a rough idea where are the answers.

3. Identify the answers by highlighting or underlining it with a different colored pen and indicate question number beside it.

Here are 2 example of DinoBoy's work on the comprehension passage.  He uses different colors to represent different important information every time, depending on his mood at that moment.

If you make it a habit to do all the above, you are already half way to success in conquering comprehension.  

Next, it is the answering part that will determine whether you succeed or failed miserably.

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Scoring marks are as easy as 1-2-3
Frankly, it is not difficult to answer and score comprehension but students find it challenging because most of them are not strong in this language thus they have problems understanding the passage or unable to form logical answers with grammatically error free sentences. Well, I have a good news for you, unlike English comprehension, students are allowed to lift the whole sentence or paragraph when answering Chinese comprehension questions. That makes scoring so much easier!

Having said that, you must also ensure that you have written ALL the answers to get the marks. How to be sure that you have given all the answers?

Number #1 - Marks allocation
A good gauge would be by looking at the marks allocated for each question. The rule of thumb is for a 2 marks question you have to give 2 VALID points/reasons as answers, a 4 marks questions may required AT LEAST 4 points.

Now the keyword to the above bold sentence is VALID, this means the answer will have the key points, no marks will be given if unnecessary points are given.

Number #2 - Finding the answers
Kids are taught by their teachers to find answers by looking at similar words that appeared in both the passage and question, this may probably help you in getting the answer but they have to understand the context of the passage to pluck out the correct answers.

Do bear in mind that sometimes answers for a question can be found in different paragraphs, the reading & highlighting you have done during the earlier stage would have enabled you to identify all the answers.  Read the passage again; 4th time reading the passage, to be sure that you have highlighted all the answers.

If answers for a particular question are all over the passage, it will make things easier to indicate question number with an extension, e.g Q38.1, Q38.2.  Once you have written that sentence in the answer put a tick against it so that you know you did not miss out anything.

Number #3 - Answering Techniques
Now that you have highlighted all the answers, it is time to organise them and present them in a correct and orderly way to get those marks!  Since we are able to lift the whole sentence off the passage, half the remaining battle is won so try not to use your own words to reconstruct the sentence.  Also check you answer after you have written to ensure the answers are there, sentence construction makes sense etc.

Here's how to tackle a few common questions that earn u full marks if you answer them correctly.

Common Question 1
During my time I was taught to answer question in full, such as the 1st part of the following question "我认为礼貌在我的生活里很重要。" instead of just answering "重要。" but DinoBoy told me that his teachers told them it is fine to just answer the latter, on the other hand I also hear from friends that their kid's school do not accept that.  Therefore, I strongly suggest writing a full answer, it doesn't cost much to write those extra words but it will cost us precious marks if we just write the one or two word answer.

Common Question  2
One of the frequently seen comprehension question is to ask the kids to give their life experience in relation to part 1 of the question; as seen in the above and following questions.
Most of the kids are stumped when they encounter such question because they are not exposed to enough life situations (let's face it, we pamper and bubble wrap them too much) to give example.  I tell DinoBoy that even if he did not experience the situation just make up some stories, if it sound logic or morally correct  he should score some marks.  Again, use the marks allocated to gauge the length of answers, take a look at DinoBoy's answer to have an idea on answering the question.

An important thing to remember while answering 2 parts questions is that both parts must correspond to each other.

Common Question 3
Sometimes the students are asked the "Before-After" question, such as the one below.  This type of question indicates that a major event happened that caused someone's behaviour/opinion/action or a situation to change drastically. 

Identify the "before" and "after" events in the passage, do take note that the answer will usually be from at least 2 paragraphs.  Pick up the points from these paragraphs and answer them in separate paragraphs; the "before" and "after" paragraphs.  For this question lift as many words as possible from the passage, even if its a whole paragraph.

Common Question 4
Passage could be written in 1st or 3rd party view, the questions will also mention the same.  When answering such questions remember to use the same character name, e.g. 作者 author or 我 I/Me or  小男孩 little boy.

If the character is 我 I/Me, when answering question remember to put apostrophe on it - "我", such as the question example below as marks will be deducted if you did not add that to the word.

With that I have come to the end of my sharing on tips for conquering Chinese comprehension.  I hope they are clear to you.  If you have any questions do leave a message either at the comments section below or in my facebook page.

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Last but not least, as with other subjects "practice makes perfect".  The tips looks easy to follow but to be able to identify the answer(s), lifting it and writing answers in logical sense needs practice too.