Ministry of Education (MOE)
Features | Public Service

Delivering An Education
Of A Lifetime

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is committed to developing its teachers and supporting them as they positively influence young minds. Two teachers share with us how MOE has equipped them with important teaching skills and how they nurture a love for language in their students.

Teaching is no easy profession – it takes energy, knowledge, ingenuity and most of all patience to lead a classroom of impressionable youth. Teachers dedicate a considerable amount of time to support their students as they journey towards becoming self-motivated individuals.

MOE aims to develop quality teachers who not only impart learning and critical thinking skills to their students, but also inculcate sound social and moral values to them. Two MOE scholars, Timothy Yam and Bernie Wong, share with us their experiences as an educator, role model and life coach.

Why teaching?

Timothy Yam: I was very attracted to the opportunity to read English Literature, a subject I’ve always been passionate about, and also pursue a related career thereafter. The possibility of influencing the Literature curriculum in our local schools is something I really looked forward to.

I have also been inspired by and was fortunate to have crossed paths with many knowledgeable teachers – Mrs Madeline Maas, Mrs Lim Jee Nee and Mr Krishnan from Raffles Institution and Ms Dayna Chia and Ms Mrina Veluri from (the former) Raffles Junior College. Being an English Literature teacher means I can grow my students' love and appreciation for the subject and help them develop critical thinking and cultural analysis skills.

Bernie Wong: I first learnt about the MOE Teaching Scholarship during my School Immersion Programme in Germany, back when I was a National Junior College (NJC) student. Through my interactions with my senior, who decided to pursue a tertiary education in Germany on an MOE scholarship, I gained a better understanding of the various MOE scholarships and Germany’s higher education system. She left me with this piece of advice, “Du musst wissen, was du willst”, which roughly translates to, “You have to know what you want”.

Timothy Yam Rong Yao
Education Merit Scholar

Designation: English Literature Teacher,
Boon Lay Secondary School

Studied: Postgraduate Diploma in Education,
National Institute of Education,
Nanyang Technological University

Master of Arts (Humanities),
University of Chicago, US

Bachelor of Arts (English),
University of London, UK

"My exposure to first-class educators and academics was very helpful in preparing me for my Teaching career"

This got me thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted a meaningful career and the MOE Teaching Scholarship allows me a career where I can make a direct impact on the lives of my students every single day – my choice couldn’t have been clearer!

Tell us about your responsibilities as a teacher.

Timothy: My roles in all my classes are quite varied. For instance, I help my Secondary 4 Express Core Literature class do their best academically, while I help equip my Secondary 1 Normal Technical English class (also my Form Class) students with the foundational skills necessary to become effective communicators. I also supervise the Badminton club in the afternoon and play a few games with the students if I can spare the time.

Managing students' behaviour can be challenging, as some of them lack guidance and direction and tend to act out in frustration. I also face students who try very hard but are unable to improve their academic results. In both cases, I empower my students by encouraging them to keep their self-esteem up and constantly brainstorm study techniques to ensure their efforts are more focused and not expended in vain.

Bernie: Most of my students take German as a third language, and this is on top of eight to ten subjects they are already being taught. As a German teacher, it is my responsibility to not only teach a new language, but also expose my students to global affairs and the differences in countries' value systems and cultural beliefs.

It is not easy for students to understand why they are required to spend three hours every week to learn a foreign language that they have little opportunity to use in Singapore. I thus face a challenge in keeping them enthusiastic and awake after their long school day – this is why I am constantly thinking of new ideas and games to keep lessons relatable, interactive and engaging.

Tell us about the opportunities you have received in your scholarship journey.

Timothy: I had the privilege of studying at top-tier institutions and gained insights from a wealth of knowledge imparted by professors, fellow students and guest lecturers. I also attended lectures by authors such as Will Self and Alan Hollinghurst and participated in the Association of Writers and Writing Programmes annual conference in 2014.

My exposure to first-class educators and academics was very helpful in preparing me for my Teaching career – seeing first-hand how people conducted classes and communicated concepts helped me understand that teaching was not just about subject mastery. It is also about delivering good pedagogy. Furthermore, being based in the UK and the US during my studies allowed me the freedom to travel to exotic places such as Morocco and Ghana to expand my horizons.

Bernie Wong Shu Yi
MOE Teaching Scholar

Designation: German Language Teacher,
MOE Language Centre

Studied: Postgraduate Diploma in Education,
National Institute of Education,
Nanyang Technological University

Master of Arts (Intercultural German Linguistics),
University of Göttingen, Germany

Bachelor of Arts (German Linguistics),
University of Heidelberg, Germany

Bernie: I not only participated in school trips to places such as the UK’s Stratford-upon-Avon and Germany’s Marburg – I also underwent exchange programmes in London and Beijing, and was able to fly back to Singapore to participate in summer internships. My experiences allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and come back with a broader mindset and worldview.

During my time in Germany, I acquired a lot of knowledge about the German culture. Back in Singapore, the National Institute of Education (NIE) curriculum was also really beneficial as I learnt much from professors and fellow teachers-to-be about teaching pedagogies and classroom management techniques. This better prepared me to face my students as I embarked on my teaching career at the Ministry of Education Language Centre (MOELC).

What advice do you have for aspiring MOE scholars and teachers?

Timothy: Be honest at your scholarship interview. The MOE interviewers have all heard too many trite answers, and being open and honest will only show how passionate you are about making a real difference in students' lives.

Teaching can be an immensely tiring and frustrating task at times, but the rewards certainly justify the challenges. You must have the stomach to overcome your challenges – if you know you do, apply for the MOE scholarship because the education service needs people like you!

Bernie: Be true to yourself and think hard before you decide to apply for the MOE scholarship. Don’t do so for the prestige or the opportunity to study abroad. Relevant teaching experiences and internships in a school will help you stand out from the crowd, and allow you to speak with greater conviction about your motivations and experiences behind pursuing a Teaching career.