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Impromptu Speeches

For a class that loves to talk and share, impromptu


speeches can be really engaging and meaningful! Be sure to
set a short time limit to make sure everyone in the class gets to
speak. Have a hat full of random ideas and good review topics
that the students draw. They then speak for minute. Dont put too
many limitations on this activity and allow them to have fun with
it and run with ideas and language. Be sure that you have many
more ideas than there are students so they can do a second
round if time allows.

Work as a group to plan a company, then present;


Research and report on whats happening in another country;
Devise an advertising campaign for a produce;
Work as a group and plan a travel itinerary around the world
decide as a group where you would go and what you would do.

7 Superb Speaking Activities Thatll Get Your


ESL Students Chatting
All right everyone, pair up!
This sentence can be met in many ways.

Blank stares. Two class troublemakers reaching for one anothers hands.
The shy kid in the class trying very hard to become invisible.
Its no secret, getting students to work well in pairs can be hard, and it doesnt stop with
just having them pair up.

ESL students doing pair activities can often try to skive off doing the activity at hand. Shyer
students can be tempted to let their partner do all the work.

As far as the teacher is concerned, it can be tough making sure that the students who are
actually working are speaking correctly.

Well, its time for all those problems to be ancient history. Here, youll find the ultimate
guide to perfect pair work.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take
anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Techniques for ESL Pair Work

The first mistake many teachers make when assigning pair work is letting students choose
their pairs.

While that may be fun for those in the class who are already friends, your job as the teacher
is to assess each students strengths and weaknesses and put them with someone they can
work with well. In other words: you make the pairs.
If you know that two students are particularly good at conjugation, it might be interesting
to put them together so that they have a real challenge. If one student is exceptionally shy,
dont stick them with the class loudmouth; theyll only be overshadowed.

The best way to set up pair work in the classroom is to allow no expectations amongst
students that theyll be picking their own partners.

Were going to go about this activity in pairs! Sasha with Kevin. Lucy with Mary.

By making it obvious that youll be the one deciding who works with whom, no one will get
upset or try to fuss.

Once the pairs have been established, its time for your most important role: monitoring
pair work.
While most pair work should finish with a group discussion or individual evaluation, the
purpose of the pair work is lost if you arent listening and gently correcting. While you
should be wary of over-correcting and silencing a student, do wander the room, listening
for errors that you know a student can correct him or herself. Then you can gently remind
the student how to properly use that language.

This serves two purposes: not only does it reinforce correct use of English, but it also
ensures that students know youre listening. This way, theyre sure to give the pair work
activity their all.
7 ESL Pair Work Speaking Activities to Get Those Lips
Flapping
Not all classroom activities are designed for pair work. The best time to use pair work is
during oral activities, as these activities allow students to get more speaking time than they
would in a class setting.
But you cant just ask students to talk to each other for two minutesyou need a bit
more structure than that!
Here are 7 great ESL pair work activities that you can use in a variety of ways to get your
students talking.
1. Investigative Journalist

Investigative journalist is a classic pair work activity for a reason: it works!

It can be used in a variety of scenarios and tailored according to specific grammar or


vocabulary points that youve been reviewing in class.
The basis of investigative journalist is for students to interview one another in pairs and
present their findings. It can be used for groups at all skill levels from beginning to
advanced, as long as you tailor it to their levels.

Beginners may do a simple version, asking their partners about their family structure,
favorite colors and foods, pets and hobbies. Intermediate students could use investigative
journalist to practice past tense structures by asking about their interlocutors childhood.
Advanced students might benefit from a murder mystery version of the game, where each
student is assigned a character to play and the game concludes with the murderer being
sussed out as a result of the questions.

Have fun with this game, and remember: if you give your students the tools to succeed,
theyll surprise you!
2. Debate

Debate is another classic that can incorporate pair or group work, depending on the size of
your class. Create groups and assign each group or pair a side of an argument. Use pair
work time to allow students to develop their argument and conclude with a class-wide
debate.
Debate is made even more interesting when you present students with authentic
materials to use as support for their claims.
3. Whats Your Secret?
Whats your secret? is a pair work activity that truly involves the whole class. In this
game, which is a play on investigative journalist, each student writes a secret down on a
piece of paper, things like: I play the clarinet. or I have a twin. The papers are placed in a
hat and each student draws one: thats where the game begins.
Whats your secret? can either be played by allowing students to mill about the classroom
freely or by setting up a speed dating scenario, where each pair has 1 minute to speak
before rotating. Students may ask one another yes/no questionsthey may not ask
directly if whats on the piece of paper is true about them or not.

Students then must guess to whom the secret they drew belongs.
by EMILY MONACO

7 Superb Speaking Activities Thatll Get Your


ESL Students Chatting
All right everyone, pair up!

This sentence can be met in many ways.

Blank stares. Two class troublemakers reaching for one anothers hands.
The shy kid in the class trying very hard to become invisible.
Its no secret, getting students to work well in pairs can be hard, and it doesnt stop with
just having them pair up.

ESL students doing pair activities can often try to skive off doing the activity at hand. Shyer
students can be tempted to let their partner do all the work.

As far as the teacher is concerned, it can be tough making sure that the students who are
actually working are speaking correctly.

Well, its time for all those problems to be ancient history. Here, youll find the ultimate
guide to perfect pair work.

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take
anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Techniques for ESL Pair Work

The first mistake many teachers make when assigning pair work is letting students choose
their pairs.

While that may be fun for those in the class who are already friends, your job as the teacher
is to assess each students strengths and weaknesses and put them with someone they can
work with well. In other words: you make the pairs.
If you know that two students are particularly good at conjugation, it might be interesting
to put them together so that they have a real challenge. If one student is exceptionally shy,
dont stick them with the class loudmouth; theyll only be overshadowed.

The best way to set up pair work in the classroom is to allow no expectations amongst
students that theyll be picking their own partners.

Were going to go about this activity in pairs! Sasha with Kevin. Lucy with Mary.
By making it obvious that youll be the one deciding who works with whom, no one will get
upset or try to fuss.

Once the pairs have been established, its time for your most important role: monitoring
pair work.

While most pair work should finish with a group discussion or individual evaluation, the
purpose of the pair work is lost if you arent listening and gently correcting. While you
should be wary of over-correcting and silencing a student, do wander the room, listening
for errors that you know a student can correct him or herself. Then you can gently remind
the student how to properly use that language.

This serves two purposes: not only does it reinforce correct use of English, but it also
ensures that students know youre listening. This way, theyre sure to give the pair work
activity their all.
7 ESL Pair Work Speaking Activities to Get Those Lips
Flapping
Not all classroom activities are designed for pair work. The best time to use pair work is
during oral activities, as these activities allow students to get more speaking time than they
would in a class setting.
But you cant just ask students to talk to each other for two minutesyou need a bit
more structure than that!
Here are 7 great ESL pair work activities that you can use in a variety of ways to get your
students talking.
1. Investigative Journalist

Investigative journalist is a classic pair work activity for a reason: it works!


It can be used in a variety of scenarios and tailored according to specific grammar or
vocabulary points that youve been reviewing in class.

The basis of investigative journalist is for students to interview one another in pairs and
present their findings. It can be used for groups at all skill levels from beginning to
advanced, as long as you tailor it to their levels.

Beginners may do a simple version, asking their partners about their family structure,
favorite colors and foods, pets and hobbies. Intermediate students could use investigative
journalist to practice past tense structures by asking about their interlocutors childhood.
Advanced students might benefit from a murder mystery version of the game, where each
student is assigned a character to play and the game concludes with the murderer being
sussed out as a result of the questions.

Have fun with this game, and remember: if you give your students the tools to succeed,
theyll surprise you!
2. Debate

Debate is another classic that can incorporate pair or group work, depending on the size of
your class. Create groups and assign each group or pair a side of an argument. Use pair
work time to allow students to develop their argument and conclude with a class-wide
debate.
Debate is made even more interesting when you present students with authentic
materials to use as support for their claims.
3. Whats Your Secret?
Whats your secret? is a pair work activity that truly involves the whole class. In this
game, which is a play on investigative journalist, each student writes a secret down on a
piece of paper, things like: I play the clarinet. or I have a twin. The papers are placed in a
hat and each student draws one: thats where the game begins.
Whats your secret? can either be played by allowing students to mill about the classroom
freely or by setting up a speed dating scenario, where each pair has 1 minute to speak
before rotating. Students may ask one another yes/no questionsthey may not ask
directly if whats on the piece of paper is true about them or not.

Students then must guess to whom the secret they drew belongs.

4. Its Your Turn: Teach a Class!

Teach a class! is a fun activity for advanced ESL students. In this activity, you assign each
pair a grammar, vocab or culture point that theyll have to teach to the class. The pair
works together to prepare activities and lesson plans and teaches the point to the class.
Unlike many of these other activities, the conclusion portion of this activity is built right in:
when the pair teaches the class, the teacher should play the role of the student, but you
may evaluate the lesson at the end and feel free to correct any mistakes the teachers
make!
5. Following Directions

Following directions is an interesting game that offers a change from classroom routine.

In this game, each student in the pair draws a picture, keeping their paper shielded from
the eyes of their partner. Ideally, pictures should be fairly geometric. Once the picture is
complete, they explain to their partner, using words only, how to replicate the image.

For example, if a student has drawn the stereotypical square house with a triangle roof, he
might say: Draw a square in the middle of the paper thats about a third of the size of the
paper. Draw an equilateral triangle on top of the square, using the top side of the square as
the bottom side of the triangle.

The goal of this game is for each partner to replicate the others drawing going by these
spoken directions.

6. Games! Yes, No
Many pair work activities can feel like games, but sometimes its fun to introduce some real
games into the mix.

Yes, no is a game where the only two words that students arent allowed to say are yes and
no. Pair students off and play. When a student loses, he or she is out and the winning
partner is paired with another winning partner. In this way, you can create a tournament of
yes, no.

Other versions of the game also forbid maybe and I. Consider these versions when the
game is lasting too long or students need an extra challenge.

7. Games! Guess Who

Guess who is a version of 20 questions that focuses entirely on people.


Students draw the name of a famous person out of a hat (youll need to prepare these slips
in advance!) and their partner tries to guess whos on the paper by asking a series of
yes/no questions.

Like yes, no, guess who can be turned into a tournament-style game.

Concluding a Pair Work Activity

Remember: a pair work activity isnt a lesson in and of itself.

There should be a brief introduction, letting students know what you expect them to do
during the activity.

There should especially be a conclusion. Be sure to budget it into your class time or
the pair work activity will be useless.

During your conclusion, you should gather the information gleaned during the activity and
go through it as a group. This will allow you to correct errors and itll also allow students to
learn from their peers.

Many pair work activities also benefit from being followed up by an individual activity such
as a written response, worksheet for homework or short oral presentation to the group
presenting the students findings.

Once youve mastered the art of pair work, your students will be speaking up (and
correctly!) before you know it!

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take
anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)
Oh, and One More Thing
Another way to truly engage your students with English is to use FluentU. FluentU takes
real-world videoslike music videos, cartoons, documentaries and moreand turns them
into personalized language learning lessons for you and your students.
Its got a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking
world actually watch on the regular. There are tons of great choices there when youre
looking for songs for in-class activities. Youll find music videos, musical numbers from
cinema and theater, kids singalongs, commercial jingles and much, much more.
On FluentU, all the videos are sorted by skill level and are carefully annotated for students.
Words come with example sentences and definitions. Students will be able to add them to
their own vocabulary lists, and even see how the words are used in other videos.
For example, if a student taps on the word brought, theyll see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active
learning tools for students, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like fill in the
blank.
Its perfect for in-class activities, group projects and solo homework assignments. Not to
mention, its guaranteed to get your students excited about English!

1:37

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If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to teach
English with real-world videos.
TIPS TO SUMMARY WRITING

(1) Read and understand what does the question requires before you read the text.

(2) Mark the material [ from lines.......to .....]

(3) Read through the passage, underlying key words and facts.

(4) Look at the key words and phrases to see if you can change any words or phrases.

(5) Condensing / rephrasing / paraphrasing

(6) Combine the sentences using connectors such as 'as', 'because', 'yet', 'since' etc

(7) Use the 1st ten words given and write a draft on a piece of rough paper.

(8) If you exceed 130 words (the limit), see if you can cut any details or rephrase any sentence.

(9) Leave out examples and irrelevant details.

(10) Rewrite neatly if you have the time, checking to see if you have included all the important points

COMMON ERRORS IN SUMMARY WRITING


1 Inaccurate information
Some students make the mistake of copying every single word and only stop when they have reached the limit. One consolation is, if they have
chosen the correct paragraph, they might gel some marks for content. The obvious disadvantage is that they cannot possibly cover all the 10
points. However, for very weak students, this is sometimes recommended.

2 Irrelevant information

Students may make the mistake of providing too many irrelevant details. This shows that they cannot distinguish between the main points and
supporting details. That is why summarising is said to be the highest skill in language acquisition.

3 Missing information

Some students tend to string half a sentence with another half, leaving out many important points.

4 The answer lacks cohesion or is poorly organised

Most answers look like a string of sentences strung together into a paragraph. Students need to use connectors to make it a cohesive piece.
Points should also be properly organised.

HOW ARE SUMMARIES MARKED?


Examiners look for students' ability to organise and paraphrase a certain aspect of the text in a

limited time frame The summary should be free of total copying from the text and there should be no errors in spelling or grammar

A total of 15 marks is awarded for summary. 10 marks for content, 5 marks for language.
GUIDELINES...
Summary writing is easy. Just keep in mind the acronym BROOMSTICK when you do your summary.

Bracket - After reading the text carefully, get a clear idea of the question and bracket all the parts

that are relevant to the question.

Rephrase - Look at the bracketed section and rephrase wherever possible.

Omit all irrelevant details like examples, elaborations, long descriptions and explanations, repetitions,

quotations and figurative language.Text that is not related to the question should be ignored.

Own words - When writing your summary, remember to use your own words as far as possible. Do

not copy word for word.

Meaning must be retained - Remember that you must not change the original meaning of the text.

Maintain the original meaning.

Speech - If there is speech in your text, convert it into indirect speech.You cannot use direct speech

in your summary.

Tenses - Maintain the same tense as in the original text. If the text is in the past tense, your summary

should also be in the past tense. If it is in the present tense, your summary should also be in the

present tense.

Information must be only limited to what is in the passage. Do not bring outside information or your

own opinion Into your summary.

Copy out the draft you have made correctly in a paragraph.

Keep to the number of words specified in the question. Do not go over the word limit. After the

130th word, all information will be ignored and marks will not be awarded.

SPM English 1119:


1. Studying tips- To prepare for this subject, you have to continuously improve your
language skills in every day life. Try to speak and write more in English language,
and read more English books, magazines and newspaper.- You are adviced to
attend tuition if possible. I cannot recommend any tuition centre for English
because I never attended English tuition. Try asking around to find out which
tuition centre is the best.- Before the exam, you mainly need to prepare for Writing,
Poem and Novel.- You should know and remember the format for all kinds of
formatted writing. Refer to revision books or ask your teacher if you do not know
the format.- You need revision notes for literature (Poem and Novel). As far as I
know, no literature revision books in the market is good. You are advised use your
tuition teachers notes. You need to understand and remember the Theme, Settings,
Plot, Characters, Moral values & Lessons as well as their examples for the Form 5
novel andall poems learnt in both Form 4 and Form 5.- To prepare for all sections
in Paper 2, you have to regularly do exercises. You should also do exercises for
Paper 1 occasionally but do not spend too much time on that.
2. Directed Writing- Materials will be given. Read the question and materials given
carefully. The question will ask you to write an essay on a particular topic. You
must use all the points in the material given when writing your essay.- There is no
minimum word limit for Directed Writing. However, you are advised to write your
essay longer than 120 words. If the question asks you to add in your own ideas or
provide a suitable introduction/closing, you must do so. If the essay is formatted
writing, make sure that the format is correct. Of the 35 marks for Directed Writing,
15 marks is for Content &Format and 20 marks is for Language.
3. Continuous Writing- There will be 5 questions. Usually the 2 questions are
factual/argumentative essay,2 questions are narrative/descriptive essay(such as
story) and the other 1 question is one-word topic essay. Read all the questions
carefully and choose the question that you are most confident in.- For the one-word
topic essay, you are free to write it as either factual/argumentative essay or
narrative/descriptive essay (such as story). But, you must make sure that the entire
essay/story you write is closely related to the meaning of the word given.- If you are
writing factual/argumentative essay, there should be 1 Introduction, at least 4
Body and 1 Closing. Include only one main point in each Body. Make sure your essay
is more than 350 words. Marks will be deducted if your essay is less than 350 words.
Avoid writing exactly the whole essays that you memorised, because if you do so
and as a result you score much better in Continuous Writing compared to Directed
Writing, your grade for Continuous Writing may be dropped.
4. Both Directed Writing & Continuous Writing- When writing your essay, elaborate
clearly on each point you write. Write some relevant examples as well. You only
need to elaborate in 1 or 2 sentences for Directed Writing, but you need to
elaborate longer for Continuous Writing.- Include a few idioms and phrasal verbs in
your essay. Use a wide variety of words in your essay, including some more difficult
words. The sentence structure should be varied. Your essay should also be
interesting, especially for descriptive/narrative essay. Avoid making grammatical
errors in your essay. Refer to the question often when writing your essay to avoid
writing out of topic.5. Paper 2 Section A- For Stimuli & Graphic Material, read the
materials given and questions carefully. Cancel off the options that you consider as
definitely wrong. Choose the most suitable answer among the 4 options, based on
the materials given.- For Rational Cloze, it tests you on grammar. Read the passage
given carefully. Cancel off the options that you consider as definitely wrong. Choose
the most suitable word to fill in the blanks in the passage among the 4 options,
based on your understanding in grammar.- For both parts, you should think
carefully because sometimes the answers are close to each other.
6. Information Transfer- Read the materials and questions carefully. When
answering, copy directly from the materials given and avoid using your own words.
However, sometimes you
may have to make some changes to suit your answer. Make sure the spelling in your
answer is exactly the same as the spelling in the materials given. Your answers
must be short and precise. Do not add in any unnecessary details in your answer or
write extra answers, otherwise marks may be deducted due to overlifting. Also, you
should not answer in full sentences.
7. Reading Comprehension- Read the questions and passage given carefully. Answer
all questions based on the passage given. When answering, look for answers from
the particular paragraph of the passage as stated in the question. If the question
does not state that you must use your own words, you can copy directly from the
passage and you need not use your own words. However, sometimes you
may have to make some changes to suit your answer.- If the question states that
you must use your own words, then you must answer in your own words. If the
question asks for your own opinion, you should give your own ideas and do not look
for answers from the passage given. Your ideas should be logical and relevant.- For
all questions on Comprehension, you do not need to answer in complete sentences.
Make sure that the spelling in your answer is correct. Your answers must be short
and precise. Do not add in any unnecessary details in your answer or write extra
answers, otherwise marks can be deducted due to overlifting.
8. Summary- The question will usually ask you to summarise on 2 topics. Read the
question and passage given carefully. Underline the relevant points in the passage
that are related to any of the 2 topics.- When answering, use relevant points from
the passage given. Do not take the elaborations or examples. You must begin your
answer using the 10 words given in the question. You do not need to write any
Introduction or Closing. You are advised to answer in your own words by replacing
words taken from the passage with other words of same meaning or by rephrasing
the sentences taken from the passage. You should write a total of at least 10 points.
You are advised to write more points if possible. Marks will only be given for correct
points and marks will not be deducted for wrong points (But, you must not exceed
130 words).- Count the total number of words and make sure that your answer is
not longer than 130 words, otherwise the remaining part of your answer will not be
marked, and marks may be deducted. State the exact number of words below your
essay. Proper nouns, idioms and words with hyphen are counted as one word only.
If your answer is longer than 130 words, try cancelling off the unnecessary words in
your answer and replacing longer phrase with shorter phrase of the same meaning.
If it still exceeds 130 words, cancel off some of the extra points you wrote.- You must
answer in continuous writing form and not point form, otherwise marks can be
deducted. You should also write the answer in complete sentences. Make sure that
the grammar is correct. Of the 15 marks for Summary, 10 marks is for Content and
5 marks is for Language & Paraphrase.9. Poem- Read the poem and questions
carefully. Answer all questions based on the poem. If the question does not state
that you must use your own words, you can copy directly from the poem and you
need not use your own words. However, you may have to make some changes to suit
your answer. If the question states that you must use your own words, then you
must answer in your own words. If the question asks for your own opinion, you
should give your own ideas and do not look for answers from the poem. Your
answer should be logical and relevant.- You do not need to answer in complete
sentences. Make sure that the spelling in your answer is correct. Your answers must
be short and precise. Do not add in any unnecessary details in your answer or write
extra answers, otherwise marks can be deducted due to overlifting.
10. Novel- The question will be based on the novel you studied in Form 5. You can
also answer based on the novel for other states, but you should do so only if you
understand that novel very well. Read the question carefully.- If the question is
about facts (Theme / Settings / Plot / Characters / Moral values /Lessons), give
suitable answers that you memorised from revision books. If the question is about
your own opinion, you have to give your own ideas based on your understanding of
the novel. Your ideas must be logical and relevant. You should also relate your ideas
to the novel.- For all Novel questions, you have to elaborate clearly on every point
you write. Give suitable examples from the novel. You also need to write your
personal response (your own opinion about what you have discussed in your
answer). You must answer in complete sentences and not point form, otherwise
marks can be deducted. Make sure that the grammar is correct.- The question
carries 15 marks, where 10 marks is for Content and 5 marks is for Language. Both
the Content and Language marks are given by impression, so the Content marks
does not actually depend on the number of points in your answer. However, you
should write at least 3 elaborations and 1 personal response in your answer. You
can give more facts, elaborations and personal responses if youwant to, but you
must be careful not to write any wrong points. For wrong points in your answer,
marks will not be directly deducted, but it can affect the Content marks in overall.

Literature Notes
POEM

THE LIVING PHOTOGRAPH


My small grandmother is tall there,
straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,
pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
a kind, old smile round her eyes.
Her big hand holds mine,
white hand in black hand.
Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.

It was true after all; that look.


My tall grandmother became small.
Her back round and hunched.
Her soup forgot to boil.
She went to the awful place grandmothers go.
Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.

But there she is still,


in the photo with me at three,
the crinkled smile is still living, breathing.
Jackie Kay

Synopsis
The poem talks about the persona's photograph of her grandmother. The

persona describes the grandmother as being tall and who dressed up prim and proper.

She had a kind smile and did not fear death. As she aged, Grandmother became

hunched and forgetful. She has passed away but the persona still feels her presence

as she looks at the photograph of herself and grandmother, taken when she was three

years old.

Literal Meaning
Stanza 1

The persona describes her grandmother as tall and well-dressed with a kind

smile. Her smile comes from her eyes. On her deathbed, she held the persona's
small black hand in her big white hand. She was not afraid to leave the world.

Stanza 2

persona accepts that her grandmother has passed to the other world, as

all grandmothers do. Grandmother, who was of a tall stature became small,

hunched and forgetful.

Stanza 3

The persona at age three had taken a photograph with grandmother. When she

looks at the photograph, she feels grandmother's presence. To the persona, her

grandmother is still very much alive and smiling at her.

Figurative Meaning
Stanza 1

As we start off with our life, we stand tall and confident. We make sure everything is carried out properly
without a flaw. We approach every situation with a smile even as we offer encouragement to others and
receive support in return. When faced with an inevitable situation, we face the inevitability bravely.

Stanza 2

We can feel the onset of the inevitable as we look around and notice the signs of changes. We begin to
lose our grip as things change beyond our control. We may even forget to do certain things. But, finally
the situation is out of our hands and we have to let go.

Stanza 3

But sometimes there may be a memento to remind us of what we used to be.The memento helps to keep
our memories alive.

Elements of the Poem


PLACE
Britain, possibly Scotland where the poet grew up.

In the photograph, the grandmother is wearing a white broderie anglaise shirt which is popular
in Scotland.
The persona is most likely in his/her home as the poem reveals the thoughts of a child who
is looking at a photograph of the grandparent.

TIME
20th century

The photograph is in colour and colour photography was expensive and not very common
up until the 1960s.

Persona
The persona of this poem is a child looking at a photograph of his/her grandmother and him/her. It is not
clearly stated whether the child is a boy or girl. From the description 'white hand in black hand', The
persona could either he of mixed parentage or adopted. The child is of reading age but the simple words
used to describe the grandmother such as 'tail', 'kind', 'big', 'small' and 'awful'

indicate that the persona is not very old.

Themes
Remembering a loved one

In this poem, the persona describes the grandmother as pictured in a photograph taken when he/she was
three years old. The persona describes how the grandmother looks in detailthe

clothes she wears, the way she ties her hair up in a bun and her kind smiling eyes. Then the persona recalls
the changes in the grandmother's appearance and behaviour as she grew older how her back became
bent, and how she became forgetful. From the photograph, the persona goes to his/her memory of the
grandparent. The grandmother is dead now but she still looks alive in the photograph.

Family relationships

The poem focuses on the relationship between a grandchild and his/her grandparent. The photograph of
the two reveals the bond between them. Grandmother is holding the child's hand in hers. Even though
the grandparent and the child seem to be of different ethnicity as their skin 'colour' is different, they love
each other. Even though grandmother changed into a bent-over forgetful old woman, the child still
remembers the grandmother as she looks in the photograph.

Life and death

The poem is also about life and death from the point of view of the aged and the very young. The
grandmother knew that she would die soon but she was unafraid'Her sharp blue eyes look her
own death in the eye' (line 7). It also gives us the impression that grandmother would fight to stay alive
tor as long as possible. To the young persona, death is a fearful thing. He/She understands that death is a
place old people like grandmothers go. Death is unavoidable. Death is described as an 'awful place",
'somewhere unknown, unthinkable' (lines 12-13). That is why the persona is happy that he/she has a
photograph of the beloved grandmother where the grandmother lives on. The photograph defeats death.
That is the significance of the title of this poem'The Living Photograph'.

Moral Values
Unconditional love
The love between the persona and the grandmother is clear in the way the child remembers the departed
grandparent. This is unconditional love; it goes beyond age, race and distance. The

difference in age and race does not matter. The distance between them, now that grandmother has gone
away to an 'unknown place', does not change this loving relationship.

Courage

The persona recognises the courage with which the grandmother faces the possibility of death. In the
photograph, the grandmother is said to 'look her own death in the eye'. In contrast, the child is fearful of
death, the 'awful place grandmothers go'.

Tone & Mood


The general tone of the poem is nostalgic as the grandchild looks

at a photograph of the grandmother and recalls the past when

the grandmother was alive. The second verse has a serious tone

with an underlying feeling of fear as the child remembers the

grandmother growing old and weak and finally dying. The poem

ends on a positive note as the persona is comforted by the picture

of the grandmother.

Language & Style


The language of the poem is simple and reflects the vocabulary of a child. Many single-syllable descriptive
words are used e.g. 'flat', 'grey', 'kind', 'round', 'big', 'tall', 'small'. The lines are short and have a basic
structure e.g. 'Her big hand holds mine'.

Imagery

Colour words help the reader to visualise what the persona sees in the photograph, e.g. 'white broderie
anglaise shirt' (line 2); 'grey bun' (line 3), 'white hand', 'black hand' (line 6) and 'blue eyes' (line 7).
Contrast

'tall' and 'small'

'straight-back' and 'back round and hunched'

'white hand' and 'black hand'

'kind, old smile round her eyes' and 'sharp blue eyes'

SHORT STORY

TANJONG RHU - BY MINFONG HO

Synopsis

Mr T. W. Li, a successful businessman, has just lost his mother. As he mourns her death, he recalls some
important events before her demise,most significantly revolving around a pair of binoculars. He had
bought his mother a pair of binoculars so that she could see farther as she had cataracts. However, his
mother's only concern was to see Tanjong Rhu, a place where they used to live while he was growing up.
His father owned a small shipyard there before it was torn down about thirty years ago. When Mr Li finally
convinced his mother to use the binoculars, he was upset that she still could not see the ships at the
harbour, in front of his office. Instead, in her mind's eye, she saw Tanjong Rhu in the past, back when Mr
Li was still a young boy accompanying his mother digging for crabs along the beach. He became impatient
with his mother who seemed adamant to hold on to the past and had no interest in the present. He
refused to listen to her stories. Back in the present, Mr Li regrets his actions as now he too longs to go
back to his childhood in Tanjong Rhu. He finds that his memories are vague and there are many things
that he does not remember clearly. Unfortunately, there is no one to answer his questions as the person
who shares the memories with him, his mother, has passed on.

SETTING

Published in 1986, the story is set in Singapore and the time frame goes back and forth between
the present (after the death of Ah-Ma) and the past (before the death of Ah-Ma).
The most important location mentioned is Tanjong Rhu, a shipping port in Singapore where Mr Li
grew up. In the present day, it is filled with tall buildings and skyscrapers. However, eighty years
ago, Tanjong Rhu only had small shipyards where fishing boats were built. Mr Li's father owned such a
shipyard.
Mr Li's office is located on the 18th floor above Shenton Way, a central business district in Singapore.
Mr Li has a big house with many rooms, a garden and a swimming pool. He first shows the binoculars
to his mother in the garden.
An important part of the house is the altar room, where Ah-Ma performs her daily prayers.
The hospital where Ah-Ma passes away is also mentioned in the story.

CHARACTERS
Mr T. W. Li
A successful businessman in the shipping sector
Has a happy childhood with his family in Tanjong Rhu
Happy family life - wife, son and daughter
Close relationship with his mother but does not open up to her easily
Modern in his ways and ideas - takes pride in his modern ways - makes sure no one is about when he
bows to show respect to his dead parents
Tolerant - does not interfere in his mother's traditional ways
Meticulous - keeps track of number of ships every day by counting them
Patient and respectful - waits for mother to finish prayers although he had to leave for office - does not
hurry her
Filial - made sure funeral of mother is done in the right way - full of customs and traditions
Strict and does not entertain disrespect from the young - expects daughter to respect elders
Regrets not talking to Ah Ma and never listening when she talked

Mr Li's mother (Ah-Ma)


Small and thin with grey hair and a bent back
A mother of nine, grandmother of thirty-four and great-grandmother of seventeen
Has cataracts but does not want to have surgery to fix it
Speaks Cantonese
A traditional woman who still keeps chickens in the garden and practises the old
Chinese customs and rituals
Particular and meticulous when it comes to taking care of the altar and performing her prayers
Yearns to see Tanjong Rhu, where she used to live years ago
A simple woman who is content with what she has
Seems to belong in the past as she is often lost in memories and likes to relate stories of the past

Ying
Daughter of Mr Li and Helen
Has an older brother at Cambridge University
Is soon leaving for New York
Speaks English to her father and Cantonese to her grandmother
Loves her grandmother, whom she calls Popo, and is very close to her
Affectionate towards her grandmother
Takes the customs and rituals lightly and does not seem to acknowledge the importance of it
Takes care of her grandmother at the hospital and gives her blood
Very anxious that her grandmother is dying
Helen
Wife of Mr Li
Often has tea parties with her friends
Seems to like socialising

Mr Li's father
Used to own a shipyard where he built boats in Tanjong Rhu
Died at the age of 53
Upon his death, his wife offers daily prayers to him in the altar room and sometimes even talks to
him

Mr Li's son
Unnamed in the story
Soon to complete his studies at Cambridge University

PLOT
Exposition
Mr T. W. Li, a rich businessman stood at his office window high above Shenton
Way. Concerned about something which he could not lay his finger on he was
not ready to go home. His mother's (Ah Ma) funeral was just a day before
and everything had been done correctly. He counted the number of ships in
the harbour as was his habit with his binoculars. The binoculars reminded him
of his mother.

Conflict
He recalled he had bought them for Ah Ma and was eager to give them toher. He wanted her to use them
as she did not want to undergo a cataract operation. His wife was having tea with friends in a room. Ah
Ma was in the garden feeding her chickens. Speaking to her in Cantonese, he mentioned the binoculars
as see-far glasses. Ah Ma was irritated as it reminded her of her refusal to have a cataract operation. Later,
she mentioned her willingness to use them at his office to see Tanjong Rhu where her husband's shipyard
used to be.

Climax

Next morning, Ah Ma prayed in the altar room. Then, she talked to her dead husband to inform him of
her going to their son's office. Her granddaughter, Ying offered to do the praying with the joss sticks for
her but she would not allow it. Mr Li ticked off Ying for criticising her grandmother for wanting to do things
her way. While waiting for Ah Ma, Mf Li looked at his father's photograph and remembered their time
together. When they were in his office, Mr Li pointed out the ships and the whole harbour to Ah Ma but
she could not see anything. Instead, she talked about seeing their old hut, walks and crabbing on the
beach. Coming back to the present, Mr Li felt nostalgic and
wanted very much to go back to the time of his childhood. He tried to recall but had very blurred
memories.
Falling Action

He recalled that he tried to ask Ah Ma again. But, by then, she had become very sick and was bedridden
in hospital, unable to move or talk very much. Ying helped to look after her. Knowing that her father
wanted to talk to Ah Ma, she lifted her grandmother's eyelids and told her father to say something. But,
Mr Li could not and scolded Ying for not being respectful. Ah Ma moved restlessly and managed to say
something about the key to the altar being hidden before she drew her last breath.

Resolution

Now back in his office/ the day was becoming dark and he suddenly thought of the altar and what he had
promised Ah Ma at her deathbed. This was what had been troubling him the whole day, something he
had left undone. He rushed home to do that one last thing for her. He paid his respects to Ah Ma but, he
could not open the drawer. He cried and told Ah Ma he saw Tanjong Rhu that day and then decided to
leave well alone.

THEMES
Seeing

It tells us how the different generations view or 'see' their culture. 1 examines the relationship between
a successful businessman named Mr L and his mother, and looks into the different meanings of'seeing'.
Mr Li look: at material goods as sources of happiness and a better life. He buys a pair o binoculars for his
mother, who has cataracts, to see clearly. Mr Li assume* his mother needs a pair of binoculars to see
more clearly so that the rest of her life would be more comfortable. But his mother sees Tanjong Rhu,
not literally, but metaphorically, as the place where the children had grown up.

Tradition vs modernism
Mr Li's mother values the importance of traditional practice. Everything must be done properly and
she must 'tell' his father about visiting her son's place of work. In Chinese traditions, praying to the
ancestor and the dead is important to every family.

Mr Li, his wife, Helen, and daughter, Ying, are moulded in modernism. Mrs Li plays host to her high
society friends with her tea sessions, and Ying speaks in English with her father but in Cantonese with
her grandmother.

Generation gap
A picture of a big generation gap arises, with a conservative mother who refuses to have her eyes 'cut
open', a severe and slightly self-centred father who always assumes young people do not respect the
elders and a naive daughter who openly shows her feelings and opinions without considering her
audiences. This generation gap is a result of modernisation eating into old ways, causing each
generation to misunderstand the next. It is a common situation faced by people living in rapidly growing
societies.