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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Secondary Three B and C.2008

Secondary Three (Normal Academic) English Language

Please make sure you have your copy of the "O" level Distinction in English Comprehension handy with you and always bring it along with you when you attend my lessons. You should work on any suitable sections of the book at your own time. Please start the ball rolling. Time is precious. Thank you.

Posted by Yeo Yam Hwee on 17 January 2008 (Thursday)

Emily of Emerald Hill

Posted 17 January 2008 (Thursday)

To all secondary Two BCD students:
We've begun on EMILY of EMERALD HILL at last in T1W3.2008. Hopefully all of us have finished reading it on your own at least once. (Actually, once is never enough!)

Here are some of the questions which we will want to ask ourselves:

[1] Based on what you read in the introductory STAGE DIRECTIONS, what impression[s] do you have of EMILY?
[2] Do you think EMILY is somebody you can admire?
[3] What do you think EMILY has achieved or failed to achieved?
[4] Is she your hero or do you think she is a villain in disguise?

Please respond to these questions using this blog. Post your comments to this entry.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


There is only one character, Emily. She wears the sarong kebaya of a modern (educated, exposed to western ideas, open-minded, living a modern lifestyle, non-traditional) Nonya; jade bangle, brooches and ear studs, her hair in a bun(she must have had a lot of free time; she has no need to do manual work). When the play opens she is in her mid-thirties (she is a woman who has a lot of life experiences), but during the play she will move back and forward through time and through a range of milieux (time frames and situations) – “Age cannot wither her(she is quite unaffected by the passing of time; she is ageless and always seems so full of energy), nor custom stale for infinite variety(she cannot be held back by anything which surrounds her; she is always moving on with life no matter what; she continues to throw surprises in the way she laeds her life.”

The play opens in 1950. (That was pre-independent Singapore.)

One set is used throughout the play. It suggests a Baba mansion built at the turn of the century; with plastered walls, covered to a height of one metre with ornamental tiles, interrupted perhaps by Grecian columns or marble statues.

On the walls towards stage right hang group photographs of a large family, and portraits of the patriarch and matriarch; also a large oil-painting of Emily as a young bride, in full traditional costume.

Near stage centre is a large chair of rosewood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Beside it is a similar occasional table on which stands a telephone. Two wheeled trolleys stand in the wings until needed.
There is an “auxiliary acting area’ – a side stage, or merely the area in front of the curtains.
Literrature in English Secondary 2 BCD and Secondary 3BCD(elective)
Concerning Writing About Literature Term 1 Week 3. 2008
17 January 2008 Yeo Yam Hwee

Understand the importance of reading the given text carefully. Never mind if you do not understand what you read the first time round. Read again. If you really must, read it again. If something escapes you because it is difficult or the account is beyond your personal experience, it should not bother you to use your imagination to make an intelligent guess at what the text is trying to say to you. What you are doing each time you read is called engaging with the text”. The very first skill any student of Literature needs to acquire and sustain (i.e. make it a lifelong habit) is an active interest and curiosity in what you read. Listen for what the writer of the text is trying to say, or more importantly, to communicate with you.

When you read, you should be asking yourselves questions like: What am I reading? What is the setting of this text? Is there anything interesting or significant? Whose story is it? What is the text talking about? Does it have a theme? How is it being told to you? What is the shape or structure of the text like? Do you think the writer (a real human being, like you and me) is angry, excited, happy, sad or feeling dejected when he is talking (writing) to you? There are so many exciting questions that you should plant in your mind. You become an investigator of your own lives and the lives of other people, chiefly the characters who come alive in the stories we are going to read together during the year.

In Literature, we learn to write in order to express our thoughts and feelings on what we read. This is a process of affirming and reaffirming our understanding. We sharpen our senses by becoming better readers, listeners and observers when we write more and more about the things, the events and the characters we read about.

In order to establish our thinking process, for a start, here are some of the beginning words you should use every time you wish to write about your thoughts and feelings:

I think that….
I can see that…
I feel that….
My concern with this text is that…
It is probably true to say that…
It is possible for us to say that…
I feel strongly about ….
I am in favour of ….
I sympathise with…
I do not think that…
I cannot understand why….
It is difficult for me to believe that….
It is shocking to read that…
It is quite beyond my experience to read that…
I realize that…
I am surprised by…
I do not know whether to…. or not.
I do not agree with…
I totally agree with..
I do not feel sorry for…
I feel very sorry for….
Based on the evidence, I can safely say that…
And the list goes on.
Attention all Sec 3BCD Literature (E) students: Redo your UNSEEN PROSE questions based on Adeline Ng Ai Choo (below) and hand it in to Mr. Yeo by T1W4.2008 (Next week, first lesson).

Those without the handout, please see below. The full set of text and questions is reproduced here.

Read the extract and answer the questions that follow:


Adeline Ng Ai Choo, aged fourteen, plunged twelve storeys to her death, because she had asked for one more mark for her answer script in an English Language examination, and had been refused. This was what our reporter learnt from a teacher in Adeline’s school. Her body was found lying at the foot of a block of flats in Toa Payoh this morning. She had jumped from the twelfth storey from which police later recovered a pair of slippers and a handbag. A note found in the handbag addressed to her parents read, “Dearest Dad and Mum, sorry to be a disappointment to you.” A diary was also found in her bag. Adeline was an only child.”


1. What strikes you as the ONE most important feature in the above text?
2. How does the writer succeed in capturing your attention?
3. How believable is the plot? Why or why not?
4. Who has your sympathy?
5. What do you think is likely to follow afterwards? Why so?

Secondary 3BCD - Adeline Ng Ai Choo

Deadline for RESUBMISSION of Adeline Ng Ai Choo (Unseen) Task

Some students did not join the class when I first gave out this piece of work. Anyway, the very first task was meant to diagnose your respective writing abilities. I have already a good idea. Some wrote better, far better than others. Some more conscientious than others...etc.

So this time round, having already gone through with you my expectations by supplying you with a model answer, I will be grading your essay. So do your best. Hand it in by the next week the first lesson (T1W4.2008).

Those without the worksheets must get it from those who have it.

Posted by Yeo Yam Hwee 16 January 2008 (Wednesday)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mr. Rashidi's Book Recommendation for your December 2007 Reading

Reading is an important activity which you have to undertake on your own. SO DO NOT WAIT FOR YOUR FELLOW CLASSMATES OR TEACHER TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO.

LAST DECEMBER however, the English Department via Mr. Rashidi, has provided a list of books which you should have looked up for your reading pleasure. Since ALL of you in 3B and 3C have claimed that you were unaware of the list, I am providing you the original list here in full.

Instructions: ALL Secondary Three B and C students will have to make a PURPOSEFUL trip to our SCHOOL LIBRARY to select a book for some serious reading. You are expected to submit a BOOK REVIEW on that chosen book at a later date. I will inform you when to hand in your work.

NOTE: THE BOOK which you choose NEED NOT COME FROM MR. RASHIDI's list but I will have to insist that it must be suitable for you and I must approve of it. Simple as that!

So here you go, the ORIGINAL LIST from Mr. Rashidi:

Refer to the reading list below. All books are found in the National Library Board records.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
The Red Judge by Pauline Fisk
St. Dale by Sharyn McCrumb
The Woman in the Last Carriage by Felix Cheong
Nailed by Patrick Jones
The Prize by K S Maniam
A Note of Madness by Tabitha Suzuma
The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd
Zorro by Isabelle Allende
An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

Posted by Yeo Yam Hwee on 16 January 2008 (Wednesday)
For all Secondary Three B and C students (2008)

I have reissued the DECEMBER 2008 HOLIDAY ASSIGNMENT in Term 1 Week 3 (THIS WEEK, 16 January 2008). Now this is a CONTINUAL ASSESSMENT for TERM 1.2008. Swim along with the rest of SINK ALONE.


So, for those who miss the hard copy which I have distributed this morning. Here is the soft copy.




EXTENDED TO: TERM 1 WEEK 4 (Hand in to Mr. Yeo on the FIRST EL Lesson)

All questions can be answered by writing an essay or a story which explores the topic in an interesting and relevant way.

1 "You have to have a dream or you go nowhere". (Kofi Annan)

2 An inter-galactic market research company is canvassing opinions on whether Planet Earth is suitable material for "first contact". What do you think?

3 What advice would you give to a family living with teenagers?

4 EITHER "This is where I live" OR "These are the things which make me who I am".

5 Blue.

6 The Commonwealth Question: The theme for Commonwealth Day 2008 is "The Environment: Our Future". Discuss the likely impact of climate change on life as you know it. What is to be done?


POSTED ON 16 January 2008
All my English Language and Literature students are welcome to write to me by posting their comments and so on in this blog. However, let me lay down these ground rules:

[1] Love yourself - Do not write in an irresponsible way which may cause unhappiness and displeasure to anybody. Be a good Hildan.

[2] Love your neighbour[s] - Be considerate. Do not use this blog for making comments which have nothing to do with discussions on ENGLISH LANGUAGE and LITERATURE.

[3] Love your school and this blog - Do not misuse or abuse this cyerspace. Any wrongdoer will be severely singled out and justice will be meted out. Don't even think of asking for "a second chance". Anything that is published on the internet IMMEDIATELY becomes PUBLIC information. You cannot say, "I AM SORRY!"

So I will only attempt to reply if you write sensibly. The student must write his or her FULL name and the CLASS which s/he is from in 2008. REMEMBER, do not ABUSE this blog.

Yeo Yam Hwee - 15 January 2008

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

For all Secondary Three LITERATURE (ELECTIVE) students.

[1] Please read the book and finish it by end of T1Week3.2008.

[2] I would like you to pay attention to CHAPTER 73 first. In this chapter, our PROTAGONIST (the hero of the novel), Christopher John Francis Boone, reveals to us (in fact, he bares it all) his so-called "BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS". I think Christopher, who at the point in his retelling of his story, only "15 years and 3 months and 2 days" old, is an interesting young man. He does not like people to touch him and yet he comes right clean by telling us all his behaviour problems. He is honest about it, too honest perhaps.

So get to the page and the chapter.

I don't assume you have already read the book at least once. I expect it.
15 January 2008 (Tuesday) The rain had stopped.

Please READ when you are YOUNG.
Please READ when you are HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE.
Please READ when you are CURIOUS ABOUT LIFE.
Please READ when you are FEELING AFRAID.
Please READ when you are ADVENTUROUS.

Please READ.

The following books are really interesting:

1. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. A Passage To India by E M Forster
4. Where Angels Fear To Tread by E M Forster
5. Jurassic Park (Read the book, the movie is skindeep only) by MichaelCrichton

I shall update you on more. Please use our school library. If they don't have these books, politely request the library to procure them. ("To procure" means "to obtain by purchasing".)

The Use of Symbols in Literature

15 January 2008 (Tuesday) Sunny in the morning, cloudy during the day, and rainy in the late afternoon.

For all secondary two and three Literature students,

We must be conscious of human beings' use of symbols - please note: a symbol is a sign which we immediately recognise as having an implied meaning which we share. For example, the RED CROSS flag tells us that medical aid is at hand; the CROSSBONES and SKULL tells us that we are going to be raided by the pirates in due course if we do not steer clear of them.

So when we examine closely the portrait of A SAD FAMILY, we should consider certain things which are symbolic to us. NOBODY is TOO YOUNG to UNDERSTAND SYMBOLS.

We know what [1] a naked light bulb hanging from a singular wire,
[2] a table which has one leg shorter than the other three and has to be propped up by a book
and [3] the image of an aeroplane which appears on the T.V. screen

These are but THREE of the many examples of how SYMBOLS (SIGNS which become relevant to us because we share our understanding and knowledge about them) are being used to deliver to us meanings about the portrait which the painter (writer) is trying to tell us.


For Sec Two Students who were absent from my Literature classes in Term 1 Week 2 (T1W2),

Please understand that you will need to know the 4 components which are useful in your reading of the PLAY- Emily of Emerald Hil:

"S" stands for "Setting" which helps us to understand, for instance,

CHARACTERISATION - The kind of person(ality) Emily is / the kind of company she keeps.
LOCATION - The place where the story of Emily takes place = SINGAPORE
TIMING/PERIOD - Is the play about the present, the past or the future.

"T" stands for "Trouble" which helps us to understand what makes the story of EMILY interesting, exciting and relevant to us readers. What exactly drives Emily? What makes her such an interesting or "TROUBLESOME" character? Does she bring happiness or sadness to herself or the people around her?

"A" stands for "Action" - We should be interested in Emily's interaction with the other supporting characters in the play. Emily has a stake in the resulting death of her eldest son, Richard. Emily and her husband, Mr. Gan Joo Kheong - are they ever in love with each other? Emily keeps herself busy by meddling in other people's business, but we are going to have mixed feelings about her. Ask yourselves - why so?

"R" stands for "Resolution" - We know that every story must somehow come to an end. Emily is no exception. We need to ask ourselves - Do we like the way the play "Emily" comes to an end? How effective is the ending? Does the ending do justice to the powerful motherly figure of "Emily"? Does the ending make you feel proud or sorry for Emily's life experiences? Have all her contributions and machinations brought about desirable returns? Does the feeling make us happy or sad?

So remember the acronym - S.T.A.R.
Dear 2BCDs of St Hilda's Secondary School,

I am sure by the end of Term 1 Week Two (T1W2), you would all have gotten yourselves a Literature File each.

2B is BLUE
2C is RED
2D is RED as well.

Also please begin reading EMILY OF EMERALD HILL. You've to begin reading BEFORE I begin EMILY in class.

Yeo Yam Hwee 15 January 2008 Thanks.