The Sunday News
THERE is no substitute for hard work. This statement is more pertinent now when results for public examinations written last year are being released.
Those learners who worked hard have achieved good results. On the other hand, those who have been unsuccessful are resorting to blame games, albeit too late. It is too late for that and the wise should quickly pick themselves up and prepare to re-sit the failed examinations or sink forever.
The release of the previous classes’ results usually spurs those learners writing next into action. For a week or so the concerned learners seem to work hard, but, with time that spirit to work hard fades.
As the urge to work hard fades some learners lose focus and struggle in their studies. The remedy is for the learners to remain focused and they will have a pleasant learning experience.
It is still early in the academic year when one views it from a lay man’s point of view but to the learners faced with coming examinations the time is short.
Some learners did not even have the long festive season break as they were engaged in extra lessons. Remember we have said it here before that extra lessons have become a necessary evil. I do not know whether our education system has lost it somewhere or what as most parents and guardians send learners for extra lessons. It is no longer a question of the weak learners sent for extra lessons but it is inclusive of all including high fliers. The irony of the whole matter is that people are paying high school fees yet send children for extra lessons.
As I see it, we are slowly sliding to the home school concept whereby some affluent parents will resort to having their children taught from home by (hired) teachers.
The rationale behind such thinking is that it does not make economic sense to pay high school fees for formal education and then pay for extra lessons. Food for thought. Meanwhile, we go on with helping learners to become better writers in order to pass examinations.
Last week we reminded learners about the importance of writing stories with familiar settings and choice of characters — naming the characters, what they look like, what sort of person are they.
For example are they helpful, bossy, shy, or arrogant. We noted that it is essential to state how your character feels, what is your character doing in the setting you have chosen? For example, meeting friends, or up to some mischief. Be clear in your writing as to what will your character do, see and say in your story.
Describe what the characters hear, smell, touch and taste as well. Tell your reader about the character’s thoughts. Learners need to research more and find many descriptive words which match the characteristics of their chosen characters.
Try to see the setting of your story in your mind. Begin with the main characters doing something they enjoy. We mentioned previously that you can have something go wrong. For example, a shout for help; someone gets lost or a child disappears with the maid.
Above all, make sure that there is a reason for all of the events in the story. To improve your story be on the look out for the following mistakes — careless spelling, missing capital letters, full stops and question marks. These are often taken for granted but that is where many learners make mistakes leading to loss of marks. In addition to these mistakes, you find paragraphs not used properly. Many learners have problems in the use of paragraphs and this calls for teachers to continuously return and teach that concept again.
How does one explain finding a learner in Form Four writing a composition in one paragraph yet the concept of paragraphs has been taught from the earliest grades at primary school? Other glaring mistakes found in learners’ work are missing speech marks and use of wrong tenses.
Constant practice is necessary on tenses. Wrong tenses annoy examiners when they mark examinations and lead to poor grades awarded to learners.
At worst teachers have no choice but to use unorthodox means such as drilling learners on tenses for progress’ sake. Try to improve your own story by including descriptions. For example, the fog thickened, the thunder rumbled in the sky. Use more powerful verbs and nouns like the officer bellowed, not the man shouted.
Make sure you do language check to improve your writing. Have you used the past tense all the way through, third person pronouns, for example, she, he, they except in dialogue? Have you used time connective to tie the story together, for instance, once, when, while, often? Have you used place connectives to show where things happen or where characters are, like in the orchard, or on the swings? Check sentence punctuation. Check for speech marks if you used speech.
Check for missing words (it is easy to miss out the and a). Check for spelling. Some words are so confusing such that you can never be sure of the spelling without a thorough check. Talk of words with the same sound, but, with different meanings.
Most learners are hamstrung when it comes to spelling as they spoil what could be reasonable work.
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