Vitamin M: practicing for PSLE Chinese Oral in Singapore

This review is about an online tool from Vitamin M called “Let’s Score! PSLE Chinese Video Oral Practice”. Using this will make home practice for Chinese oral examinations less of a mystery, and more of a specific process to improve outcomes.  Speaking itself is an art, and the Vitamin M Video Oral Practice online course helps to give your child confidence and the right structure to score well.  

Overview of oral examinations in Singapore primary schools

Let’s start with what “Chinese orals” are all about. In Singapore primary school system, the Oral and Listening comprehension assessments typically go together in what is called “Paper 3” and comprise 35% of total year-end marks. 

The oral assessment component is done by way of e-Oral and Video Conversation (看录像会话) assessment for the PSLE.  This means watching a 1-minute video and responding to it.  These videos take some practice to grasp. 

The 1-minute flies by (it will be random footage of a hawker centre, or a car driving on a road, without many words or conversation), and then the student is like a deer-in-headlights needing to express their views and opinions relating to the theme.  The intention behind this is for language learning to reflect living, everyday context and provide authentic situations for discussion.   Of course, it wouldn’t be Singaporean if this wasn’t paired with a very structured answer response method.  

In the exam situations, students have ten minutes to read the passage (on a computer screen) and watch the video.  Then in the exam room, they’ll proceed to read the passage out aloud and the examiner will ask guiding questions related to the video.   The questions tend to be more open-ended, so your child needs a wide range of vocabulary to express their thoughts clearly.   This can be a struggle for many children in Singapore.  

What is Vitamin M PSLE Chinese Video Oral Practice? 一起考好!PSLE 录像口试练习

Vitamin M is founded with the aim to put the fun back into learning Mandarin in a Singapore context.  They provide a variety of innovative online games, tools, courses and classes to motivate children to use and enjoy the Chinese language.  I’ve previously written about their online classes for younger children.  

Specifically, the Let’s Score! PSLE Chinese Video Oral Practice are a set of ten high-quality video oral exam questions, for self-guided learning.  The package is a great set of reference materials for orals to be used at home, including model video response answers.  It’s very possible for a child to go through this by themselves, or it could be more effective if they go through it together with an adult or a home tutor.   

The set consists of ten modules each containing:

  • One video for oral exam questions
  • suggested answer for modelling (also in video form)
  • reading passage with sample teacher’s reading
  • vocabulary practice related to the oral exam question
  • downloadable notes to revise answering techniques (in the popular Description-Comment-Feeling-Suggestion (DCFS) and Point-Explain-Example-Link PEEL formats)

Each of the ten modules would take approximately 1 – 2 hours to go through it thoroughly.    

There is a further feature within the product (which we didn’t use) that allows users to book a one-to-one mock oral session at a discounted price, based on the content in the online materials. We might consider that closer to the time of PSLE starting, so we can get real feedback from teachers who understand how PSLE is scored.  

Vitamin M Chinese oral exam practice

How to use Vitamin M online materials to practice for Chinese orals?

When it comes to revising for exams, orals present a very different can of worms. For written exams, it’s simple to buy a pack of past papers or assessment books and ask the child to practice and compare against the model answer.

Vitamin M makes it possible to practice for orals at home in a structured way.  It also lets them see good phrases, sentence structures, and mannerisms in the sample video answers.   The materials can be used for P4 – to P6.  There is a weighty amount of content in each module.  

We have been using the Vitamin M online materials for about 30 minutes each weekend, doing half a module at a time.  It’s been a helpful process.  We would read the passage and look at the vocabulary.  Then the following week look at the video and go through the model answers.

As a suggestion, I would recommend also trying to practice by recording your child’s attempts (with both video and sound) and reviewing it together with your child.  Talk about how it went, where they did really well, and ways their oral responses can be improved.      

What do we like about Vitamin M PSLE Chinese Video Oral Practice?

  • Modular structure:  it’s bite-size and gives you a schedule to work through.
  • Aligns well with typical PSLE questions:  the video content and passages are designed by a dedicated team familiar with Singapore MOE requirements.
  • Model answers: these are provided in video format, and also with a printout in mindmapping PEEL format which is so helpful for revision.  I appreciate that the video response answers are modeled by children, rather than adults.
  • Cost-effective route for practicing: only $38 for a whole year of access
  • Can be assessed any time:  24/7 and revised as needed.
  • Access to real teachers (in Singapore) for mock session if needed
  • Effective tips: to structure and polish your answers
Vitamin M Chinese oral exam practice

How to prepare for Chinse oral exams if my child is P4 or above?

Practicing effectively for orals at home presents a challenge – it’s not as simple as just creating a home environment where your child can converse and improve their speaking skills or hiring a tutor to converse with.  To make it effective, you’ll need your child to be watching short video content which is like that which is examined, and also be familiar with the typical required structuring for responses of these questions.      That’s why I find the Vitamin M online materials reviewed in this post very useful.

If you need to rope in even more resources beyond the Vitamin M materials, then my suggestion would be to try out the online Vitamin M Chinese Oral Prep Course or their weekly Vitamin M-Star course, which comes with dedicated teachers and the ability for 1-to-1 mock oral sessions (versus just online content package, which is what we have been using).  For more information about Vitamin M live online classes, I have written a separate post.  

Whilst it will take a mind reader to guess what the theme for the oral exam will be, there are some common themes that seem to reverberate throughout the Singapore primary school curriculums (it’s not just constrained to the Chinese language either).  If you’re looking for materials to read or videos to watch, try to consider their relevance with the below themes:

  1. Being helpful and considerate (eg helping an elderly auntie, being quiet in the cinema)
  2. Family piety (doing housework, visiting a grandparent)
  3. Environmental awareness (cleaning the estate, recycling)
  4. Being healthy (health foods, exercising, good habits, road safety)
  5. Favourite foods, places or hobbies

How to prepare for Chinese oral exams if my child is P4 or below?

Chinese isn’t a subject you can last minute cram in and memorise.  It truly is a marathon that needs to be practiced over time.  You can start preparing well before Primary 5 or 6.   Having exposure to various mediums with communication in Chinese such as local radio, newspapers and TV documentaries can make a big difference through accumulated passive language learning.

You can also practice reading aloud every day with your child.  If you’re like me and don’t understand Chinese yourself, please don’t let this stop you from listening to your child read.  As long as you have the time, you can sit with your child and ask them to read aloud.  An optical reading pen will help with the pronunciation and meaning of any unfamiliar words or phrases.

If you are happy with a little screen time, then the below apps/tools could be helpful to encourage active use of Chinese in the house:

The way I look at the orals is they can be free marks in an exam, and shouldn’t take up too much brain capacity or memorization, provided that you’re done all the prework.   Start early and reap the rewards!    

Access to Vitamin M

It is simple to sign up through Vitamin M website (they have many exciting products, not just the online oral materials).

VItamin M are kindly offering  5% off any of Vitamin M products for my blog readers.   You can use the code LAHLAH5 at checkout.

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I love receiving feedback and also finding out about what your family finds helpful for learning Chinese. Please reach out via my IG or FB feeds.

Please note: Our access to “Let’s Score! PSLE Chinese Video Oral Practice” was given complimentary by Vitamin M for this review. (Thank you Heng and Ying Sheng!).

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