Children who progress to P5 and later on to P6 will be introduced to an additional component called situational writing.
Before we actually dive into discussing our example of situational writing it would be wise to say in a few words about what exactly is situational writing in how the marks are distributed.
First of all, it needs to be said that situational writing is a component part of Paper 1 of the PSLE English Language exam.
The paper consists of two parts: situational writing and continuous writing and together they take up 1-hour and 10 minutes.
1. How much time should the child spend on situational writing task?
So, the first question is how much time should be devoted to situational writing. There is no precise guideline that can answer this question.
It is generally recommended that children devote no more than 20 minutes to this component of Paper 1 as continuous writing is more complex and takes up more time.
2. How is the task marked?
Now let's have a look at the marks and how they are split up for this PSLE paper.
6 marks are given for content and the 9 marks are allocated for language so, in total, a child has the opportunity to earn 15 marks in this task.
And with diligence and preparation it is very much possible to achieve that highest score.
3. More about the content and the language.
Before a child even starts writing there are four key points they need to identify.
And those points can be abbreviated as PACW. They stand for “purpose”, “audience”, “context” and “writer”.
First the child needs to understand what is the purpose of the email, letter etc.
Why are you writing? To inform somebody about something?
To invite a person to an event or to complain about an unpleasant experience? All those scenarios require different vocabulary and writing style.
You should also pay attention to your intended audience.
Who are you writing the letter/email to? Is it your close friend or your boss? What is the power distance between you and the person you are writing to? Are you close friends or strangers?
Finding answers to all of these questions will enable the child to deal with the task more effectively.
“Context” basically means: is it a formal letter or an informal one? The formality or informality of the letter will depend largely on the audience.
Last, but not least, the final letter “W” stands for “writer”.
Sometimes the task demands to write to one of your imaginary friends as yourself, in other cases the identity of the writer is already fixed and the child has to pretend to be that somebody and write a letter in their name.
It is important for a child to pay attention to the identity of the writer and to make sure there is no mix up as this will result in a lower grade.
All of the aforementioned points cover content, and taking them into consideration will help you receive full 6 marks.
The remaining 9 marks are allocated to language.
A child has to make sure to follow the rules of punctuation and that the grammatical structures are correct.
In addition to this it is a good idea to use specific words known as connectors that are used for connecting a sentence with another one. These words are for example: in addition, moreover, by contrast etc.
4. An example.
So now let’s have a look at how to actually deal with the given task.
The first thing you need to do is to read it really carefully.
And by that I don't just mean reading the text that is next to the pictures, but even reading the heading to make sure you don't miss anything.
The next step is to study the task box really carefully and to identify your PACW in it.
Let's assume that the task says: “Imagine that you are John Smith president of the sports club. You want to invite a famous athlete to give a talk at your organisation. Write an email to your potential guest speaker and invite them to the event. You should refer to the dialogue on the previous page.”
As we can see the name of the author was already provided in the task it is John Smith so the child has to keep in mind that they are pretending to be John Smith when writing this task.
The purpose of this email is to invite somebody to perform a specific action at a specific event ( give a talk at the sports club).
The name of the athlete in question is not given in the task, but it may be given in the dialogue that a child should keep referring to while writing their response. And finally, is the imaginary athlete you are trying to invite a stranger to the author?
If so, the style of this email should be rather formal and polite because you're addressing an unknown person. In addition to the task box a child may be presented with additional content points which they must include in their response.
This information will be laid out in bullet points however the content points you need to provide must exceed the number of bullet points that are written down on the paper. Don't forget to be referring back to the stimulus and highlighting relevant information that you may use in your response.
5. Practice & Practice
And finally, after you have analysed and understood everything that you need to do to successfully complete this task what is left to do is to practice. Practice makes perfect.
This is the age of technology, and we have been blessed with an enormous number of online worksheets so feel free to visit one of the more reputable websites to find study materials to help your child practice their situational writing skills.
And if you are unsure of your ability to give feedback then a solution is to hire a professional English language tutor who will ensure your child's success. If you prefer a tuition centre, check out our Ultimate Guide to English Tuition in Singapore where there are 38 places to choose from!