STELLAR - a familiar acronym you will encounter as part of your child’s English lessons in primary school. But what is STELLAR, and what are the aims of this approach in teaching and learning?
Piloted in 2006, Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading (STELLAR) has been adopted as the national curriculum for English at the primary school levels since 2010. STELLAR is an interactive literacy programme that fosters confidence in learning English through stories.
At the lower primary levels, STELLAR uses 3 primary strategies to develop students’ abilities in English language learning. At this stage, the goal of the programme is to help young children to cultivate the love for reading. This is done through a combination of the Shared Book Approach (SBA), Modified Language Experience Approach (MLEA), and the use of Learning Centres (LC).
Shared Book Approach (SBA)
The Shared Book Approach replicates the experience of children having their parents or caregivers read to them at home. In this strategy, the English teacher reads storybooks (known as a Big Book in STELLAR classrooms) to the students. Through this shared reading experience, students get to engage in teacher-led class discussions with their peers where they think about the stories and share their views on what they have read. Each Big Book unit usually lasts about two weeks with students engaging in various learning activities related to the theme.
With STELLAR, grammar and vocabulary are now being taught in context through the big books. Students get to see how words are used in context on various levels – in sentences, paragraphs, and as part of a story. They get to ask questions, listen to stories, and discuss what they have read. This approach, when well implemented, allows children to learn English in context, through interactive participation instead of rote memorisation and grammar drills.
Modified Language Experience Approach (MLEA)
SBA is complemented by the Modified Language Experience Approach (MLEA), an integrated and balanced language teaching approach that uses motivating and enjoyable experiences to extend and expand on the language skills learned from the Big Books in the SBA.
Using this approach, the teacher organises hands-on activities which the students get to experience. At the initial stage, the teacher facilitates class writing, where students will share their perspectives with their peers. The class writing then becomes a collective class effort, where the teacher leads and models the editing process. The class work will be published and displayed in the classroom.
Next, the students undertake writing in mixed-ability groups, rather than in isolation. As part of the group writing process, they share ideas, help one another and receive useful pointers and phrases from the teacher. The narrative that results from the students' collective effort gives them the skills and confidence to write their own compositions individually, where they create parallel stories.
Learning Centres (LC)
Finally, the language skills learnt in both SBA and MLEA are reinforced in the Learning Centres (LC).
These Learning Centres include planned mini-lessons which are differentiated by students’ progress levels, to best cater to their learning needs. There are three main LCs – the Reading Centre, the Word Study Centre and the Listening Centre – which provide excellent opportunities for students to re-learn, revisit or extend what they have learnt.
You have already registered your child for primary school and their first day of Primary 1 will be here before you know it! At Learning Point, our Excellence in English programme lays a strong foundation in the English language by teaching students the essential skills of grammar, comprehension, and writing, equipping them with a smooth transition and a confident start to primary school. Enquire today!