SINGAPORE: New Straits Times magazine for primary schoolers

Little Red Dot, The Straits Times magazine to guide teachers on how to use newspapers in the classroom, will be out in July

The Straits Times
Thursday, March 17, 2005

To encourage children in the upper primary school classes to read, The Straits Times is starting a new school magazine in July.
The 16-page publication, called Little Red Dot, will feature lesson plans for teachers using news from The Straits Times, to improve the youngsters' vocabulary and grammar, as well as increase their general knowledge.

Announcing this yesterday at Making News: Teach All About It!, a conference on how to use newspapers in the classroom, ST editor Han Fook Kwang said it was never too early to start having a balanced reading diet, something the morning daily paper had been providing.

'We like to believe we provide a staple diet - your rice and vegetables and your proteins. We even provide the dessert - it's called Life! and popular among our young.'

The new publication follows the success of IN, a weekly supplement for secondary school students launched in January which now has a circulation of almost 100,000 copies a week.

'I'm very proud of this initiative... for what I believe it is doing for the reading diet of our students.'

He noted that schools were responding to The Straits Times' efforts to engage young people with all sorts of imaginative ways of using the morning daily.

Teck Whye Secondary, for instance, conducts forums and talk shows based on topics in the paper; CHIJ St Nicholas uses it in English classes, he added.

Mr Han also launched a new book, No Sweat: The Straits Times Guide To Good English And Greater Knowledge, which he called 'a labour of love'. This is a collection of lesson plans, based on articles by some of ST's best writers and run in the paper over 18 months in 2003 and last year.

'There are many gems in there and little trade secrets about good writing,' he said.

It will be given free to junior college students.

The book is sponsored by the Press Foundation of Singapore, which also organised the conference together with the English Language and Literature Teachers' Association of Singapore.

At the one-day event, the 530 teachers and educators who attended heard writer Catherine Lim and 15 other speakers.

Ms Lim regaled them with examples of how she had woven stories out of newspaper reports and offered suggestions on using articles to teach writing.

During a question and answer session with editors from the Singapore Press Holdings stable of newspapers, some delegates said they were concerned about the quality of writing and the use of informal language in the ST.

To laughter from the teachers, ST supervising editor (Home) Bertha Henson said wryly that each generation of ST journalists did not seem to get very much better, leaving her wondering how much of this was due to the education system.

She also noted that new forms of ungrammatical language were sprouting as a result of the prevalence of text messaging and the Internet.

But, she added, it was all a matter of balance, of using language that appealed to the young and at the same time 'did not turn off the teachers', especially in the paper's new supplement, IN.