October 6, 2023 — In a bid to keep her students on their toes and sharpen their analytical abilities, Ms. Yvonne Koh Feng Ying, a senior teacher for General Paper at Jurong Pioneer Junior College, introduced a unique learning approach: planting “spies” among her students. These “spies” are assigned to deliberately provide incorrect answers during discussions, ensuring their peers remain alert to potential misinformation. Drawing inspiration from the online game ‘Among Us,’ Ms. Koh’s inventive methodology not only enhances learning engagement but also fosters critical thinking among students.
On Friday, Ms. Koh was celebrated as one of the eight luminaries receiving the prestigious 2023 Inspiring Teacher of English Award. The accolade, presented at the National Museum of Singapore, spotlights dedicated English language educators renowned for their creativity and zeal in fostering an enriching learning environment. This year witnessed a remarkable 120 nominations.
Another laureate integrated artificial intelligence into learning modules, while another endorsed self-expression through song lyrics, memes, and music. These awards, hosted by the Speak Good English Movement and The Straits Times and bolstered by the Ministry of Education, have been distinguishing such educators since 2008.
The director-general of education, Ms. Liew Wei Li, articulated the profound impact of these educators, highlighting the instrumental role they play in shaping future communicators. In her words, “As we teach our students to communicate confidently and persuasively, we must also help them to wield the power of words responsibly, especially on the Internet.”
The awards are divided into two key categories. The teaching category celebrates excellence in English language, literature, or general paper instruction. On the other hand, the leadership category applauds department heads who’ve championed innovative and relevant programmes.
One of the honorees, Mr. Shawn Lim You Hao from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), was recognised for guiding his students to craft AI-aided essays on prevailing social issues. He emphasised the importance of critical analysis, stating, “In this way, they are not only honing their critical eye but also understanding that artificial intelligence has its limitations.”
Expressing the evolving nature of the English language, Ms. Jan Lim Hui Mei, the head of the language arts department at National Junior College, accentuated the need for educators to stay updated with contemporary lingo and trends to effectively impart knowledge.
The Straits Times editor, Mr. Jaime Ho, lauded the educators, underscoring their indispensable role in nurturing well-informed citizens with a love for the English language.
Each awardee was presented with a $2,000 cash prize, a certificate, a trophy, and a two-year membership to the Singapore Association for Applied Linguistics. The nominations for these deserving recipients came directly from their schools or their grateful students. The list of awardees reflects a diverse range of educators committed to enhancing the learning experience for their students.