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English Programme Outline

The ILLAC Programme boasts not just your child’s academic achievements but also their learning abilities so that they can learn better and faster.

With a focus on executive functions, our students graduate from our programmes with an enhanced executive functions and are on track to

  • higher rates of success in all their schooling years all the way to university ( Alloway & Alloway, 2010; Borella, Carretti, & Pelegrina, 2010; Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duncan et al., 2007; Gathercole, Pickering, Knight, & Stegmann, 2004).
  • higher career attainment in adulthood due to higher productivity and learning abilities (Bailey, 2007).
  • a happier life in general due to their high dependability, lower impulsivity and better quality of life ( (Davis, Marra, Najafzadeh, & Liu-Ambrose, 2010; Moffitt, 2012)

Indirect Benefits

Through our programmes, children will have a/an

  • Enhanced Working Memory – able to perform tasks of multiple steps
  • Heightened Inhibitory Control – able to focus better and have a longer attention span
  • Improved Mental Flexibility – able to learn and process different information easily and creatively
  • Fantastic verbal and non-verbal reasoning – Able to express themselves comfortably and accurately
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved communication and social skills
  • Improved social and moral competence

Direct Benefits

Executive functions are required in all tasks that we do, from waking up, brushing teeth to submitting that report to your supervisor. It’s the same for children, in every component in the examination paper, every single problem sums or every single Cloze Passage question taxes on their executive functions and not just knowledge or techniques alone. You can teach the child all kinds of techniques and introduce all Grammar rules to them but they just couldn’t perform. Why is that so?
The reason is simple, their executive functions are not well-developed.

In order to ensure time is not wasted in their learning journey, ILLAC hones their academic skills by heightening their executive functions and primes their brains for effective learning.

Through our programme, your child not only learns the knowledge and techniques in answering examination questions, they also become more efficient in their learning and be able to perform in school at their peak potential.

In order to prime the brain for effective learning, we categorise the examination components according to the dominant executive functions required to effectively deal with the task.

For example,

Executive Function

Examination Component

Working Memory

Grammar MCQ / Grammar Cloze / Comprehension

It’s very common for children to choose answers based on the fact that it sounds correct, however, English is a language that functions base on rules. There are altogether 12 different tenses and tonnes of other different Grammar rules in the English language that children need to be familiar with. Therefore, children need to have a robust working memory in order to be able to apply all the rules that are required when answering Grammar MCQ questions.

 

For example,

 

Mrs Wee ___________ in the school for 20 years. The school _________ her a Long Service Award next week.

 

  1. taught…gave
  2. teaches…gives
  3. had been teaching…is giving
  4. has been teaching…will give

 

In the question above, students need to be able to identify that

  1. the clue “for 20 years” indicates a “period of time” therefore Perfect Continuous Tense needs to be used. Since she will be awarded the following week, it would suggest that she is still doing the “action”, so it should be Present Perfect Continuous Tense instead of Past Perfect Continuous Tense.
  2.  “next week” is a general time in the future and Simple Future Tense needs to be used.  

 

If children had relied on “which one sounds correct” as a guide, all answers might sound correct, resulting in a guess-work of 25% probability of getting their answer correct.

 

Because there’s so many rules to process, children need a strong Working Memory to be able to tackle this component with high accuracy.

 

Therefore, every time before students tackle Grammar MCQ, they will be required to “activate” their Working Memory ability through a specially designed activity in their worksheet to prime their brain. This brain priming activity is akin to the lubricant we add to the engine of a complicated machine to ensure the smooth operations of the machine. With time, the machine will function better and better and eventually be able to perform at its highest efficacy with or without the brain priming activities.

 

Mental Flexibility

Comprehension Cloze Passage / Synthesis and Transformation / Editing / Composition / Oral

Children find these components difficult to tackle due to their weak mental flexibility. Because there can be many different answers for the questions asked in these components, it is important to prime their brain to think flexibly in order not to jump to conclusion to the first response they though of but to understand that there can be many other options which might be better in different contexts.

 

For example,

 

It was almost late afternoon and Tara needed to (1) _____________ notes to her scientific log. She copied the dates from the weekend (2) _____________ the log and wrote all of the details of how her first experiment did not quite (3) _____________ out. Then she wrote a summary of what her new experiment was all (4) _____________.

 

Most teachers, including some assessment books, teach Cloze Passages using Contextual Cues Analysis and sentence analysis in order to derive answers. Although effective, students who understand the usage of these methods might still not be able to get the correct answers because they tend to be able to come out with only one answer. For question 1, students might think the answer is “copy”/”write”/”record”, contextually, “notes” can be copied/written/recorded, however, because of the word “to”, they’ll need to think of similar words that can be paired with “to”. In this case, the answer is “transfer the notes to”. Without a heightened Mental Flexibility, the techniques can help students score a few marks, but with a routine Mental Flexibility training, students will be able to achieve perfect score!

 

Inhibitory Control

Vocabulary MCQ / Vocabulary Cloze Passage / Visual Text Comprehension

Besides the need to understand the vocabulary tested or the visual text provided, a lot of students struggle in these components because they tend to jump into conclusion and choose the first answer they deem fit for the question. 

 

For example ,

 

To ease this problem, we should set up healthy bedtime habits such as sleeping at a regular time and 

 

staying away from caffeinated drinks. Putting away the electronic devices allows the mind to wind 

          

down and have a better rest at night too.

 

(1) steering

(2) shunning

(3) abstaining

(4) abstracting

 

It is common that all options provided in Vocabulary Cloze Passage are similar in meaning. Students might jump into choosing (1) as the answer, but contextually, they should have chosen (3) since the context is relating to the intake of food. In order to prevent students from making such mistakes, we need to train their inhibitory control so that they are able to ensure that they “stop, think, do”, and not choose the first option that comes into view.