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Continuous Writing: A Guide For PSLE English Composition

Continuous writing involves the art of storytelling through written words. It is a vital skill your child must master to excel in their English  composition. Through continuous writing, children learn to craft engaging narratives  which go a long way toward honing their writing abilities.

As parents, understanding this aspect of your child’s English writing composition is crucial. Equipping yourself with the knowledge will guide them to write better and articulate their perspectives effectively. In turn, you’ll help shape their ability to communicate and think critically.

What Is Continuous Writing?

Continuous writing is a fundamental aspect of language development in primary school education in Singapore. Children are to compose a continuous piece of writing without interruptions, showcasing their ability to maintain a steady flow of ideas.

This skill is crucial, as PSLE students are evaluated on their capacity to produce 350–500 words within an hour. The goal of continuous writing is to sustain the reader’s attention through well-structured paragraphs and grammatically correct language. One will then receive a score based on how well one performs in both the Content Development and Language Proficiency segments. 

How Many Paragraphs Are Required In Continuous Writing?

As a fundamental guideline in continuous writing, students should aim to compose a minimum of four to five paragraphs within their essay. This structure helps maintain a clear and organised narrative flow, allowing them to convey their story effectively.

In an introduction paragraph, students should briefly introduce their main theme or idea. The subsequent paragraphs should contain the body of the writing, where they narrate the gist of the story.

Finally, a well-constructed conclusion paragraph should tie up all the loose ends in the essay, and bring it to a satisfying close by relating the ending back to the topic

Continuous Writing Topics To Expect During Exams

Continuous writing topics can vary widely, covering a range of themes. Familiarising your child with different types of topics and practising various writing techniques can significantly enhance their writing composition. Some key ones relate to:

  • Focusing on the use of sensory language : Encouraging students to paint vivid pictures with words based on their five senses.
  • Narrating a story by including Feelings, Actions, Speech and Thoughts: Enhancing storytelling by bringing out the emotions of the characters, highlighting what they have done, sharing what they are thinking, and bringing up the words that they use.

5 Tips For Improving Your Continuous Writing Skills

Here are some key tips to improve a child’s continuous writing skills:

1. Be More Familiar With The Topics

Familiarity with the types of topics can significantly enhance a child’s writing skills. Knowing the potential themes allows students to brainstorm relevant keywords and storylines, ensuring they can tackle any topic. 

This proactive approach not only boosts their confidence but also aids in crafting more focused and coherent compositions.

For instance, if children know that topics often revolve around experiences, adventures, or moral dilemmas, they can mentally prepare by thinking of appropriate settings, characters, and plots that align with these themes. This pre-planning ensures that the main gist of their stories aligns closely with the topic, adhering to the primary focus. 

Encouraging your child to practise writing on a variety of topics and guiding them to stay on track with the central theme can substantially improve their ability to produce engaging and relevant narratives, a key skill in continuous writing.

2. Make An Outline Of The Composition

Creating an outline before a composition is crucial in improving continuous writing skills. An outline acts as a roadmap for the composition, helping the child to organise their thoughts and ensure that their writing has a clear beginning, middle, and end. 

This process aids in maintaining a logical flow throughout the piece, making it easier for the reader to follow and understand the story or argument.

Starting with a brief introduction of the setting or main characters, moving through the development of the plot or main points, and concluding with a satisfying resolution or conclusion, an outline ensures that all essential elements are included and properly developed. 

For young students, learning to create an outline can begin with simple bullet points or a basic storyboard. This helps keep their writing focused and on topic and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed when faced with a blank page.

3. Practise The Habit Of Reading

Practising reading regularly is an invaluable tip for enhancing continuous writing skills. Reading a wide range of materials – from storybooks and novels to informational texts and articles – exposes children to various writing styles, vocabulary, and sentence structures. 

This exposure enriches their language skills and gives them many ideas and themes they can draw upon in their writing.

Furthermore, reading helps children understand how stories are structured, how characters are developed, and how different genres tackle narrative flow. By seeing these elements in action, students can learn to apply similar techniques in their compositions. 

Encouraging your child to read diverse materials and discussing what they read can also improve their comprehension and critical thinking skills, which are essential for writing effectively. 

4. Instil Good Vocabulary

A good vocabulary is key to enhancing students’ continuous writing skills. A rich and varied vocabulary allows children to express their ideas more vividly and accurately, making their writing more engaging and effective. 

One practical way to build vocabulary is through reading, as mentioned earlier, and fun activities like word games, puzzles, and writing exercises where they can use new words in sentences. 

Keeping a vocabulary journal can also be a helpful tool. In this journal, children can note new words, their meanings, and examples of their use in a sentence. 

Regularly revisiting and using these words in their writing exercises helps solidify their understanding and ability to use them effectively in their continuous writing tasks.

5. Ensure The Proper Usage Of Punctuation

Ensuring proper punctuation is vital in improving students’ continuous writing skills. Correct punctuation not only clarifies the meaning of sentences but also enhances the readability of the text. 

For example, the correct use of commas can break a long sentence into more digestible parts, while full stops signal the end of a thought, making the text easier to follow.

Teaching your child how quotation marks denote dialogue is crucial in differentiating spoken words from the narrative. Explain how question marks and exclamation points can convey tone and emotion, adding depth to their writing. 

An exercise like punctuating a punctuation-free paragraph can be a practical and engaging way for children to understand and apply these rules. Regular practise in identifying and correctly using punctuation helps them develop a more structured and coherent style, essential for effective continuous writing.

Common Mistakes In Continuous Writing And How To Avoid Them

Using Cliché Introductions

Using cliché introductions in continuous writing, such as the overused “Ring the school bell rang!…”, can detract from the uniqueness and creativity of a story, especially in the context of PSLE writing. 

These types of openings, while classic, have become predictable and might not effectively engage the reader or relate directly to the story’s main plot. 

To avoid clichéd introductions, students should aim to start their stories in a way that immediately draws the reader into the narrative. Incorporating the show-not-tell technique can effectively avoid cliché introductions in continuous writing. 

The show-not-tell technique involves using descriptive language to set the scene or describe a character’s emotions rather than relying on overused phrases.

For instance, an opening like, “The mysterious melody echoed through the empty halls, compelling Mia to follow…” sets a scene and introduces a character with intrigue and vivid picture for the reader, immediately immersing them in the setting and mood of the story.

Too Many Common Verbs

One common mistake in continuous writing is using common verbs like ‘walk,’ ‘run,’ or ‘look.’ While these words are perfectly functional, continuous writing needs to showcase the depth of your vocabulary. Overusing these common verbs can lead to a dull and unexciting narrative.

To avoid this mistake, challenge yourself to find more vivid and expressive verbs that convey the same action but with greater impact. 

For instance, instead of ‘walk,’ you could use ‘stroll,’ ‘stride,’ or ‘amble.’ Replacing common verbs with synonyms also enriches your language and enhances your storytelling ability, making your narrative more engaging and memorable.

Missing Speech Tag

In continuous writing, a speech tag is a phrase that identifies the speaker in a dialogue. It clarifies who is speaking and can provide additional context or emotion to the dialogue. Without it, the reader might get confused about who is speaking.

For example, in the sentence, “I’m really excited about the trip,” said Sarah, the phrase “said Sarah” is the speech tag. It informs the reader that Sarah is the speaker and can be modified to convey her tone, as in, “Sarah exclaimed enthusiastically.”

Not Staying On Topic

Not staying on topic is a common mistake in continuous writing where students deviate from their composition’s main theme or subject. 

For example, if the assigned topic is ‘A Day at the Beach’, but the student spends most of the essay describing their morning routine at home, they have strayed from the core subject. This diversion can confuse readers and detract from the story’s overall impact.

To avoid this, students should initially spend time understanding the topic and brainstorming ideas that directly relate to it. Encourage them to create a brief outline that includes the key points they plan to cover, ensuring each point ties back to the main topic. 

Sticking to the topic and self-reviewing their work to check relevance can significantly improve their ability to write focused and coherent compositions. A useful way to do this is to encourage your child to read left before moving right. This in essence reminds the child to check what was written before proceeding to the next paragraph to ensure that the story flows logically.

Parents can aid in this process by discussing the topic with their child and asking guiding questions to keep their thought process aligned with the subject matter.

Conclusion About Continuous Writing

Mastering continuous writing is a vital aspect of your child’s English education. It equips them with essential skills to convey their thoughts effectively through the written word. At Do Applied Learning by Epoch Learning Academy, we understand the significance of nurturing these skills in young minds.

With Teacher Daniel and our Pentagon Values System, our graduates have achieved excellence in English exams and emerged as influential individuals in society. By developing and exhibiting the right values, your child can also confidently navigate these challenges.

Explore more of our blogs, such as Situational Writing, Composition Writing, and Synthesis and Transformation, to gain valuable insights into enhancing your child’s English proficiency.

Schedule now for a complimentary diagnostic consultation to understand any challenges your child may face.

Frequently Asked Questions About Continuous Writing

How Do I Manage My Time Effectively During Continuous Writing Exams?

Start by allocating a few minutes for planning and outlining your composition. This helps you organise your thoughts.

Stick to a reasonable time limit for each paragraph or section, ensuring that you complete your composition within the allocated time frame. Finally, reserve some time at the end for a quick review and editing.

How Do I Effectively Revise And Edit My Continuous Writing Composition?

Begin by reading your work silently to identify awkward phrasing or errors. Check for grammatical mistakes, spelling errors, and punctuation issues.

Ensure that your sentences flow smoothly and that your ideas are coherent. It’s also helpful to seek feedback from peers or teachers to gain additional insights for improvement.

Is There A Specific Format I Should Follow For Continuous Writing?

Continuous writing doesn’t have a rigid format but should generally include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. 

How Do I Balance Between Descriptive And Narrative Elements In My Composition?

Start by identifying the primary purpose of your composition. The focus should always be on storytelling and character development.

For descriptive elements, emphasise vivid sensory details and imagery. A well-balanced composition often incorporates descriptive elements to support the storyline to  create a captivating narrative with rich descriptive elements.

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