A Chinese-language teacher with over 10 years of experience under his belt, Sin Sit Boon joined CDAC as a tutor in 2020. Singapore was then in the thick of its Covid-19 lockdown, and all CDAC tuition classes had moved online. Through a former colleague, Sit Boon heard that CDAC needed tutors who could not only just teach Chinese, but was also well-versed in online teaching.
As luck would have it, he fits the bill pretty perfectly. Sit Boon believes that when it comes to inculcating a love for the Chinese language, three factors are crucial. Firstly, teachers and parents should strive to expose children to Chinese in their daily lives, so that they can experience its relevance. Secondly, teachers should encourage and motivate students as they learn. Last but not least, teachers should try to create an enjoyable learning environment — and that includes using digital learning resources such as videos and apps to stimulate students’ interest.
As an MOE teacher, Sit Boon had thus already been familiarising himself with many online learning platforms and tools, especially as the shift to blended learning (where online and offline modes are combined) during the pandemic accelerated the adoption of new technologies. Besides having the necessary expertise, “the timing, location and other factors also made it possible for me to contribute back to the society, so I decided to take up this meaningful responsibility”, he said.
During CDAC’s online lessons, he guided students on the use of platforms such as Zoom, Google Classroom, and ClassDojo. Besides using digital textbooks and Zoom as the primary teaching resources, he also used varied strategies to intersperse his lessons with various ways of stimulating students’ interest. For example, students competed in quizzes using the chat function in Zoom.
Things were not all smooth-sailing. Technical challenges included intermittent Internet connections, glitches in image and sound quality, and navigating unfamiliar interfaces. “But things improved as everyone got used to the platforms,” Sit Boon shared.
Even with the resumption of conventional lessons, Sit Boon said he will continue to use platforms such as YouTube to enrich his teaching. But in-person teaching has its strengths too. When offline classes resumed in 2021, Sit Boon met his CDAC students in person for the first time. It was only then that the small teacher-student ratio really hit home for him. “My first thought was that with fewer students, I can spend more energy and attention on each individual child,” he recalled.
Being a CDAC tutor has enabled him to learn how to communicate more effectively with children from needy families. “This helps me in adjusting my teaching strategies, defusing conflicts, stimulating their motivation for learning, and elevating my overall effectiveness as a teacher,” Sit Boon shared. “It has also helped me in my personal growth, and enabled me to contribute towards the care for others.”