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English Language & Literature

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Language is a tool for thought, for communication and for creative expression. It represents and shapes our worldview, values and culture. It provides a lens for us to understand the world and at the same time, is a window into our souls.

The learning of English Language and Literature empowers students to express themselves and make meaning of what they experience, gives them the tools for discovery and helps them adapt in an increasingly complex world. Additionally, with the status of English as lingua franca and its important role in international business and communication, students who are confident and effective users of English have the power to influence and be change agents in our society.

Teaching & Learning Approach

Cedar’s English department uses the Parallel Curriculum Model (PCM) as a tool for curriculum planning. At the Core of the curriculum are language skills and literary concepts which are scaffold in spiral progression across the students’ four years in the school. The Curriculum of Connections explores age-appropriate macro concepts and themes which act as conduits for the application of learning from the Core Curriculum.

In the Curriculum of Practice, students experience authentic tasks where they learn how to act as practitioners in specially curated contexts. Finally, in the Curriculum of Identity, students’ are given platforms and opportunities to explore their personal stance in social issues around the world.

The curriculum is delivered using the social constructivist approach with a strong focus on collaborative and discovery learning to enhance the joy of learning. Since language is a skills-based subject which is often intuitive to the proficient user, pedagogies which promote active learning and greater student engagement are employed, and emphasis is placed on making thinking visible. Teachers model questioning such as using the Think Aloud strategy to show students how to use questioning techniques to critically evaluate what they read.

We have incorporated teaching questioning techniques such as Socratic Questioning in our IP curriculum as a tool to enable our students to think critically and deeply. Differentiated Instruction is also carried out to cater to differing student needs. To ensure that students are future-ready, ICT is integrated into the curriculum through the use of Google Classroom, Google suite for Education and various web 2.0 tools.


Level 2 English Enrichment Programme

The Lower Secondary English Enrichment Programme stimulates creativity in students with an aptitude for speaking and writing. Selection is based on their performance in the English Language and Literature at Level 1, in terms of academic performance and enthusiasm for these subjects. In the programme, they have the opportunity to develop their creative writing skills and build a writing portfolio with the help of teacher-mentors. The students are given avenues to stretch their potential through the art of storytelling. Furthermore, students are given priority during selection for ad-hoc writing competitions, attendance at writing festivals, plays, etc.

Level 3 & Level 4 Humanities Special Programme

The Humanities Special Programme (HSP) is a talent development programme for selected students who have demonstrated ability in English Language, Literature and Humanities. It aims to develop students' interest and talent in these areas through

a. exploring concepts, knowledge and skills beyond the core school curriculum
b. discussing a broad range of issues to widen students' worldviews
c. developing students into outstanding critical thinkers and effective communicators
d. providing opportunities for more in-depth exploration of areas of interest
e. providing enriching experiences not typically available in the school curriculum to broaden
students' perspective and deepen learning.

This is the HSP Curriculum with two main modules covering five broad areas.

Level Module 5 Key Exploration Areas
Level 3 Module 1:
What is knowledge?
  • Theory of Knowledge
  • The Humanities: History, Geography and Literature
  • Critical Reading and Creative Writing
  • Speech and Advocacy
  • Global Citizenship
Level 4 Module 2:
Politics and Power

A variety of enrichment activities are offered to HSP students in the form of lectures, outings and performance viewings to enhance their learning, Humanities electives, learning journeys, Model United Nation (MUN) conferences and an overseas trip. In addition, HSP students receive training for various local and international competitions and are attached to a teacher-mentor who guides them to produce a multi-modal creative portfolio that reflects their learning in HSP.

Literature Learning Journeys

Besides the official curriculum that focuses on key thinking and writing skills, learning journeys are planned for our Literature students to broaden their thinking by exposing them to different perspectives and modes of the arts.

Part of our signature programme includes familiarising the Level 3 Literature students to theatrical works. In 2016, the students attended ‘Shakespeare in the Park’ and more recently, in 2018, ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’. Apart from these aesthetic performances, taking the students out for writers’ talks is also organised.

Research and Electives in English Language and Literature

For the final leg of their four-year Research Education journey, students are able to pursue their research interests in English Language and Literature under the guidance of their teachers. Examples of research projects in these areas include:

English Language

  • I speak, therefore I am? In defining the Singaporean identity, one cannot exclude the predominance of Colloquial Singaporean English (CSE), better known as Singlish. CSE is recognised by all yet heavily discouraged in the media and in schools. In this study students will explore the language attitudes of Singaporeans and foreigners towards Singlish. Is Singlish embraced or shunned in Singapore? How does speaking Singlish affect first impressions and perceptions? What is the future of Singlish in Singapore?

  • Lingua franca. The concept of a Universal Language is extremely significant in today’s era of globalisation and mass communication. English is widely accepted as the primary international language of business, navigation, science and technology, and academia. Through this research, students will examine globalisation and the spread of the English Language. What is meant by being an ‘anglophone’? Is English becoming as universal as is often claimed? Do we regard English as a catalyst for development or a threat to national culture?

English Literature

  • Nostalgia in Singapore film. The word nostalgia originated from two Greek words ‘nostos’, meaning homecoming, and ‘algos’ meaning pain or ache. Nostalgia reflects as well as shapes a community’s desires, struggles and aspirations. How has Singapore film created a longing for the things of the past? What does this longing tell us about our perspective of the present? Is there any value in memorialising the eras long gone? Hence, through this research, students discover how Singapore film creates nostalgia in Singaporeans, and shapes the identity and dreams of this nation.

  • Reframing Femme Fatale: Women Villains in the 21st Century. In this research, students scrutinise their choice of text (novels, plays, poetry, or film) to discuss the portrayal of the woman in the 21st century. How have women’s image, position and status changed through the years? Do these changes reflect a true portrayal of the woman in the 21st century? Or are they merely transitory?

In addition to Research Education, the Electives Programme offers broad-based learning experiences and empowers students to learn about topics that interest them. Some electives in the English Language and Literature offered in the past include

  • Writing for Stage. Students engaged in a discussion of the theories and perspectives of selected playwrights on playwriting. They applied writing techniques and skills in constructing a 10 to 15 minute play-text, justified the themes and choices made in the text and organised a dramatised reading of the play-text as a final creative product.

  • The Writer’s Ink. A creative writing module, this elective honed the writing abilities of students and developed their ability to give an effective critique of one another’s writing. By the end of the elective, the students wrote a full-length short story.

  • The Science of Language. Studying the structure of languages through a scientific lens enabled students to break out of the traditional perception of grammar as a strictly imposed set of rules. They ‘discovered’ the grammar of a language of their choice or attempted to solve a puzzling language-specific phenomenon by formulating and testing hypotheses, as well as evaluating one and another’s conclusions.