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Each month we will be adding new articles on the broad subject areas of Education and Teaching. Some articles will have a teacher focus, some will have a parent focus and some will be of equal interest to both. Whichever you choose to read, we hope that you find them thought provoking and informative.



As specialists in the teaching of Reading, at I Can Read we’ve become quite comfortable with the role that ‘Decoding’ plays in the successful learning of reading - and of the importance of actively teaching our students how to decode as part of our reading programme. Of equal importance however, is the skill of ‘Encoding’ and it is this that we will be focussing on this month.

As a quick reminder, decoding is the breaking down (or segmenting) of words into single unique sounds or phonemes, e.g. the word ‘bed’ can be decoded or segmented into three separate sounds, Buh + Eh + Duh.

This clever little skill is something that once learned, we continue to do whenever we are faced with a written word that we are not familiar with – we look at the letters, associate the letters with the unique sound that each of them makes when spoken, and then blend these individual sounds together to ‘hopefully’ enable us to pronounce the new word.

Encoding is the opposite. It is the process we use to translate a spoken word into its written form – or in other words, encoding is spelling and ultimately writing.

So, encoding breaks down a spoken word into parts that are written or spelled out, while decoding, breaks down a written word into parts that are verbally spoken.

The ability to decode and encode go hand-in-hand in the teaching and learning of the 4 key literacy skills of Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking. Students who can demonstrate skills in both, generally having stronger all-round literacy skills.

The foundation of encoding (and decoding) is Phonemic Awareness. This is the awareness that all words are made up of a collection of unique sounds (known as phonemes) and that these sounds come from either individual letters of the alphabet e.g. B, F, J, or combinations of letters e.g.  Er, Oy, Ng, Sh… When we learn to distinguish these sounds and can manipulate them by, blending them together to form words, or, can take words and segment them into their individual phonemes, we are exhibiting phonemic awareness.

Further requirements for successful encoding are:
1. Knowledge of the Alphabet – once we are comfortable with phonemes, we need to be able to convert them into symbols (also known as graphemes). These symbols are simply the letters in the alphabet.

2. We must build awareness of sound-letter relationships – or, which letter/s represents each unique sound. Some sounds can be represented by a single letter, while others are represented by a combination of letters, e.g. the ‘ow’ sound as in cow, is represented by the letters o and w combined.

3. We need to be confident in segmenting words into individual phonemes/sounds – i.e. we need decoding skills, so that when we hear a spoken word we can identify the individual sounds that make up that word.

4. We likewise need to be confident in blending – i.e. we then need to take these individual sounds and blend them together in written form.

5. In addition, the ability to identify first, middle and last sounds in words is important – if we have an awareness that words have first, middle and last sounds, it gives us clues as to what they should look like when spelt, e.g. instead of spelling the word ‘can’ as ‘cn’ - an awareness of first, middle and last sounds can help us we realise that we have forgotten the middle sound and need to add the ‘a’.

6. It is also necessary to have strong auditory and listening skills to hear the phonemes, plus the necessary visual skills to be able to identify the graphemes.

7. An understanding of syllables is also helpful – by breaking words into syllables we can separate them into smaller parts, making it easier to encode, e.g. the word ‘octopus’ has three syllables – so rather than try and identify the sounds in the full word, we can try and identify the sounds separately in each of the three syllables, i.e. oc + to + pus– this then makes it easier to attempt to encode or spell the word.

8. And finally, being regularly exposed to written words is essential. Reading and actually seeing words spelled correctly is an important aspect of gaining encoding skills. In seeing specific words written regularly, we gain insight into how they are correctly spelt. We can also start to see spelling conventions and patterns, e.g. ‘word families’ – if we take the word ‘cat’ and substitute the ‘c’ for a ‘b’ it becomes ‘bat’, or if we substitute the ‘c’ for an ‘s’ it becomes ‘sat’. Eventually we should also be able to confidently add ‘th’ to spell ‘that’, or ‘fl’ to spell flat…

Strong spellers tend to be strong readers because of the attention that they pay to the letter-sound relationships. The ability to do this takes both time and practice, and encoding skills such those as written above must be actively taught.

Helping students’ gain these skills are key learning objectives of I Can Read’s three Pre-Reading Courses. In every lesson students’ engage in a variety of activities to develop and use these skills. Should you be interested in finding out more about the I Can Read approach to teaching encoding (and decoding), or would like to register your child for an assessment, please refer to the Centre Locations information on our website. Our teams will be happy to provide more information.

Inge Wilhelm
June 2022


School holidays are the most enjoyable of times for children. At the start, the days seem to stretch ahead forever, filled with the possibility of adventures, journeys near and far, family, friends and freedom! The last few weeks and days of school are counted down, until finally the horror of early mornings, strict routines, reading, writing, math, science, assessments, homework… can all be cast aside (at least for a little while).

How quickly though do these wonderful fun-filled days come to an end! And before we know it, our children are faced with the return to their school days – and while for some, the return to school after a holiday is exciting and something to look forward to, for others the end of the holidays triggers the post-holiday blues.

While it is completely understandable that many of our children feel reluctant to return to school (as do many of us, after a well-earned holiday!), there are things that we can do to try and alleviate their unhappiness and turn it instead into excited anticipation.

Firstly, it’s important to get a true understanding of the real reasons for this back-to-school unhappiness? Is it just because something good is coming to an end, or is there more to it? The only way to find out for sure is to talk to your child – this is especially important if your child will have a new teacher and/or classmates, or is starting a new school. It’s common for children to feel anxious and therefore reluctant if they are unsure of what to expect, so encourage them to talk about their fears and reassure them that what they are feeling is natural and that you will be there to support them as they settle in to the new school year.

When talking to our children, we must take care not to pass on any of our own negative thoughts about school – hearing a parent say, ‘I know how you are feeling, because I also hated going to school’ is not helpful in encouraging them back through the school gates. Listen to what your children are saying and respond directly to their concerns, fears, uncertainty – rather than sharing your own.

Help your children focus on the positives of school – the friends they will make, the cool teachers’ they will meet, the fun activities they will do, the new things they will learn… You know your child best, so if they are keen on reading and/or writing, encourage them with all of the great books they will read and stories they will write, if they love art, talk about all of the amazing things they will create, or if they love sports, highlight the teams they could join…

These smaller, back-to-school tips might also help in happily transitioning your child from home to school.

1. Don’t completely do away with routines during the holidays. Of course it’s ok to relax them a little, but sticking close to normal bed-times, meal-times, chore-times and such, will make it far easier for children to accept the return to the more strict routines of their school lives, than if they have been allowed to run-free over the holidays.

2. Likewise, don’t completely do away with learning activities during the holidays. Set aside time each day for reading - even better, create a family reading time each day. Encouraging your children to keep a daily diary will help keep them writing. Have family discussions to encourage them to think critically about their lives and the world around them. Follow-up any outings with casual conversations about what they did, saw, felt or thought…

3. If holiday homework has been given () set aside time at the beginning of the holiday to get it completed and out of the way. Monitor that it has been done and then you can all forget about it.

4. Where possible allow your children to keep in contact with their school friends – ideally create opportunities for them to get together, but at the very least, a weekly catch-up on the phone/zoom/skype… will help the friendships to continue and grow.

5. In the lead-up to the return to school, encourage your children to be involved in the buying of school supplies –  the lure of exciting goodies for the pencil case, fresh untouched exercise books, new items of clothing… can provide a very positive back-to-school experience!

And finally, reassure your children that during the next few months while they are back at school, fun things will still continue to happen outside of school – perhaps they have an upcoming birthday or family celebration to look forward to, or a movie they have been waiting for is about to come out, or visits to their favourite eating place will continue to take place… Help them realise that while school is a big part of their lives, it’s not their entire life.

We wish all children (and their parents) a stress free and happy return to the new school year!

Riagus and Inge
July 2022


Our health is inarguably one of our most valuable assets. Being healthy enables us to function at our best. It enables us to be more productive, more resilient, and ultimately to live more fulfilled lives. In this unpredictable - at times adventurous, at times arduous journey called ‘life’, staying physically and mentally healthy must be a priority – this is especially true for both parents and teachers. To look after others, we must first look after ourselves!

However, as we all know too well, staying healthy is often easier said than done. There are just too many factors that seem determined to bring us down: stress from the workplace, sleepless nights, not having time to exercise, etc. Even the tiniest problem can take a huge toll on our wellbeing if left unchecked.

So I would like to take this opportunity to share some tips that will hopefully be useful.  No, I’m not going to recommend that we make big life changes such as waking up at dawn to go jogging for an hour every morning, or meditating with scented candles for 30 minutes before work every day… The tips I’m going to share are just some simple habits and routines that we can easily implement in our lives.

1. Drink plenty of water

This should be obvious, but drinking enough water is possibly one of the most overlooked aspects to staying healthy. Remembering back to our elementary science classes, we learnt that up to 60% of our body is water, and that most organs need water to work at their best, so it makes sense that we need to stay hydrated.

The general rule of thumb is to drink 2-3 litres of water a day, depending on our habits and routines. So let’s start the day with a large glass of water, drink another glass with each meal, and consistently sip throughout the day. Bring that extra big water bottle, refill it regularly and drink!

2. Get moving

This also shouldn’t come as a surprise. Being physically active benefits our body and mind, from strengthening our bones and muscles to improving our brain health and cognition.

Getting moving is actually fairly easy. For most of us it can be as simple as getting up from our chairs once in a while and simply taking a walk, even if it is only up and down the stairs, to the restroom, to the nearest supermarket, or just to the water dispenser. The key is to not be ‘trapped’ in our chair and make a conscious effort to regularly move around.

3. Rest and relax

Rest plays a big role in keeping healthy, but surprisingly it is often viewed unfairly, with many of us thinking that we are being lazy when we rest. We fear that some downtime will hurt our productivity. I am guilty of this as well because I have sometimes thought the time I spend resting is time wasted. But this can’t be further from the truth. Adequate rest increases our focus and creativity. It replenishes our energy, allowing us to be more dynamic, focussed and efficient.

For physical health, rest allows us to recuperate and rebuild strength. For mental health, rest gives our mind a break from life’s challenges. We need to consciously take the opportunity to unwind and give our body and mind some quiet time to recharge.

4. Mindful eating

We’re constantly bombarded from food ‘experts’ about what we can and cannot eat. So much so that we often struggle to separate fact from fiction. But is it really that difficult?

We all know that healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated – fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, pulses, and grains should be a feature of our diet, more so than fat and sugar laden foods. Though this is not to say that on occasion we can’t treat ourselves!

5. Socialise 

Humans are social beings: we like being in the company of others.  A simple Google search will show a great amount of research on the negative effect of isolation, which can lead to serious physical and medical conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, and depression. “Loneliness kills” is not just a quote. Humans are ‘programmed’ to interact and socialise, and even the most introverted of people need human contact. It’s a crucial part of our humanity.

With this in mind, let’s do our best to keep our friends and family close. Whether at a distance or face-to-face – connect and communicate. 

6. Ask for help

There is strength in asking for help, professional or personal. None of us are emotional superheroes, and from time to time we may well find life overwhelming. But the good news is, none of us needs to be alone. There are plenty of people out there who would be more than happy to help us get through whatever we are going through. All we need to do is reach out.

As seen from the above tips, we do not need to adopt extreme measures in the pursuit of health and well-being. A few lifestyle ‘tweaks’ can bring immeasurable benefits. To finish, here are some cautionary words from Jim Rohn:

‘Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live’.

Agus Haris Munandar
September 2022


Reading is the window to the world that transports us from our world to another. Between the pages of a book, we can explore the lives of various fictional characters and cultures that are entirely different from our own. We can also learn new words and phrases, experience a range of emotions, and acquire skills and knowledge. Because of those learning potentials, in I Can Read we believe that revealing the joy of reading will equip children for the rest of their lives.

In I Can Read, we have designed story-time and story-reading sessions to be an exciting learning experience where teachers can not only bond with their students, but also teach them new sounds and words and develop their literacy skills. On top of all that, reading stories also teaches students life values that will form the foundations for them to be upstanding adults.
So, why does learning about values matter? Values are the key component of a person's character, and a strong character is composed of the values that children learn in their early childhood. These values will help children to differentiate right from wrong, understand what is morally correct, and guide them to make the right decisions later in life. Values also prepare their mental conditioning and strengthen their determination to overcome tough conditions and situations in the future.
For children, values are both caught and taught. In order to be learnt, moral values need to be taught over and over again, and stories allow that to happen in a pleasurable way without boring them. Here are some reasons why fostering values in children works better through stories:

1. Stories have both images and words: stories use not just visuals that form mental images in children's minds, but also engaging narratives that sustain a child’s interest. If they are personally invested in the characters of the story, they pick up new ideas much faster.
2. Children learn by imitation: children like imitate what they see, and stories provides them with lots of examples to relate with. A story can explore actions and their consequences in a way easy for a child to absorb. A character in the story becomes a cool fictional friend who they want to be like. Our job as parents and teachers is to make sure we provide them with enough role models to imitate.
3. Allow personalities and character development: lessons from value-based stories evolve into a journey of self-discovery for children, because they pose questions for children to reflect, ponder, and introspect at a very young age. It eventually helps to develop children's personalities and build their character.

How can we make story-time activities meaningful to inculcate values in? Here’s an easy path to begin with:
1. Read Together
Together doesn't mean assigning children parts of the story to read and then we act as a supervisor, but it means more to be a ‘partner’ in the process. Start by choosing a character trait to be focused on, then follow the character development in the story from initial conflict to story resolution. This way, we can engage the children and inspire them in an intentional way. Remember to dive in, explore, and do it together!
2. Make it Fun
Children love being imaginative, so why not get into character and act out their favourite bits of the story together, e.g., re-enact a favourite scene with a few props and costumes for fun, or if they are quite artsy, why not try drawing the characters, then cutting them out and using them as puppets as we read the story.
3. Discuss the Story
Discussion helps children understand and internalise the value being placed on what is read. Aim for open-ended questions rather than yes/no or comprehension questions. Ask them, "Was the action that the main character took good, bad, or a bit of both?" Encourage them to justify their answers. This will allow for a more meaningful discussion time. Let them feel that in how you discuss – not as an authority testing comprehension, but as a partner alongside them.
Children need model behaviour rather than verbal warnings. And as children will learn abstract subjects better through the use of concrete objects, it is necessary to explicitly endear the value of referenced behaviour to them. At the end of the day, story is the simplest media in our arsenal that we can use to introduce children to virtues, values and equip them with a strong character for the rest of their life. So, let’s have a story-time!
Meiva Mutia R
October 2022


‘An education is not a thing that one gets, but a lifelong process’ - Gloria Steinem

Life-long Learning is built around the belief that there is no cut-off time for learning, together with the knowledge that we definitely do not learn everything via formal education and that ultimately, learning is life and life is learning.

We as humans, for the most part have a natural drive and curiosity to explore, learn and grow. Whether it be developing new skills, learning new technology or acquiring new knowledge…

We learn for professional reasons - to enhance our work skills and therefore our employability, and also for personal and/or for social reasons – learning helps us to feel active, progressive and socially connected. This learning is often informal, is generally self-initiated, requires self-motivation and self-assessment, and our ultimate success or failure predominantly rests on our shoulders.

When it comes to how we learn, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ – we all learn differently, in other words we’ve all got individual style.

A common general criticism of school systems through-out the world is that they fail to teach students how to learn – concentrating rather, on the ‘what’ - with the prevalent thinking being that ‘content (or curriculum) is king’. While this might be successful within the constraints of a formal educational environment, does it best prepare us for learning beyond the teacher-led classroom?

Take the following scenario. You volunteer for a charity organisation and have been asked to help by providing 100 knitted hats for new-born babies. You know that to achieve this you are going to need a group of volunteers to help you. You don’t know how to knit and neither do most of the volunteers you have found.

To be successful, you are all going to have to learn how to knit – to do so, you might choose to:
Find an expert and take 1:1 lessons
Enrol in a knitting class
Watch training videos
Listen to self-help podcasts
Read an instruction book/manual
Form a knitting club and learn from each other
Try and teach yourself through trial and error

The method you choose will generally reflect your personal ‘go-to’ learning style. Broadly speaking these tend to fit into the following categories:
1. Visual or Spatial – for learners who like to be able to ‘see’ things fully in order to understand them.
2. Auditory – for learners who like to learn through talking, listening and discussion.
3. Physical – for learners who prefer to use their bodies and movement, they tend to learn through practical tactile application rather than theory.
4. Social Learners – learners who prefer to learn collaboratively with other people.
5. Solitary Learners – learners who prefer to engage in self-study and learn alone. 

Generally, these learning styles are self-determined and are often decided on the most flimsy of reasons, e.g. I enjoy watching videos or looking at images, therefore I must be a visual learner, or, I like listening to podcasts by myself, therefore I must be a solitary auditory learner…

But, and this is a big BUT – are we doing ourselves a disservice by boxing ourselves into the belief that regardless of what we are trying to learn, our learning approach should always be the same?

In a word, the answer is yes. Learning is fluid, so it makes sense that how we learn could also be best achieved with fluidity – essentially, changing our learning styles to adapt to the specific learning objectives.

To revisit our knitting scenario – rather than select just one of the learning approaches, a learner, might in fact learn more successfully by combining some (or even all) of the approaches, e.g. find an expert and watch and listen as they teach, then follow-up with instruction videos, read a self-help manual, engage in some solitary ‘trial and error’ practice, before coming together as a group to support each other as you complete the task.

As teachers and parents, it is important to have an awareness and understanding that there are differing styles of learning and that in our classrooms or homes, every child is not the same! When teaching, we tend to favour an approach that aligns with our own learning preferences, so, if we are a social, auditory learner, then in our classrooms we often teach in a style that favours, discussion, pair or group work, collaborative learning… whereas, if our predominant learning style is solitary and visual, i.e. we learn through reading and self-research, then our classroom teaching style and expectations will most likely be influenced by this.

Having this awareness and understanding, enables us to approach the teaching-learning cycle from the perspective of the students, thus ensuring that our teaching is student centric. It also allows us to think about the trialling of differing teaching styles and in doing so exposing our students to alternatives ways of learning – something, which as mentioned earlier we don’t always do well within our schools. 

By allowing our students/children (and of course, also ourselves) to experience learning in differing ways, we can potentially open-up a new world of possibility, enjoyment and success.

Inge Wilhelm
May 2022


We know that reading has many merits for both adults and children. Reading books, magazines, journals and newspapers can constructively help develop a child’s imagination, and raise their awareness about what is happening around them. Because of this, we feel concern when the children in our care lose interest in reading, and rather than relishing it, they start to think of it as tedious and something to be avoided.

For parents and teachers - convincing children of the joys of reading is not always easy. We want our children to love reading and do so without being forced. We try our best to improve our children’s reading habits; however, sometimes our methods might not be as effective as we would like, and in fact sometimes our methods may be causing more damage than good.  In order to tackle this issue, we have to delve a little deeper.

Following, are some common causes of why a child may develop a dislike of reading, together with some ‘hopefully’ handy solutions.

1. Selecting books that are not to the taste of the child:
You may well have a bunch of books in your library or classroom, however, if they are not to the taste of the children, they are likely to stay on the shelf rather than in the hands of a reader.  Therefore, we need to ask the opinions of our children, about what they want to read - the themes, characters or genres. If they have choice, they are more likely to be inspired to read!

2. The extensiveness or ‘wordiness’ of the books:
“I’m tired’’. This is a phrase that I often hear from my pupils when I am encouraging them to read, and you might have heard it too. Often this ‘tiredness’ comes about because of the lengthy texts we are asking our children to read – resulting in the reading becoming a joyless ‘task’ rather than joyful.
To avoid such unpleasant experiences and to keep children interested, break the longer texts into smaller segments – regular but shorter reading times can help keep a child interested and engaged. You could also consider selecting stories with eye-catching pictures to accompany the words, including 3D or pop-up books, or, try different methods of reading – individual, group, interactive…

3. Difficulty level of the books:
If the texts are too complex and require a lot of time and effort to comprehend, a child can quickly become disinterested. Likewise, if the texts are too simplistic they are prone to bore a child. For parents and teachers therefore, knowing a child's reading aptitude and skill level is crucial! We must work together to ensure the correct mix of ease versus complex to ensure our children are both enjoying and also being extended to further success.

4. Screen-time:
To our younger generation, books are becoming increasingly old-fashioned and boring. While many of us as parents and teachers feel a little fearful of the impact that screen-time is having on our children when we see them disengaging from physical books in favour of heavily animated, noise and action filled electronic versions of ‘books’.
We must however realise that Electronic Devices are here to stay and that whether we like it or loath it, screen-time and reading have become intertwined. Let’s therefore use it to our advantage and move on from fear, to actively seek out ways of successfully combining screen and reading.  

Cultivating a child's love of reading has a lot in common with cultivating a garden. In gardening, we must sow the seed and water it every day until it grows and matures into a plant. We then must take care of the plant until the yield is harvested. In the case of a child, we should sow the seed of passion for reading, by exposing them to engaging, gorgeous books from the moment they are born, and nurture this passion through-out their formative years as they grow, and in doing so, yield a literature loving generation.

Our ultimate aim is that joy and reading go hand-in hand!

Febrina Ramadhani
ICR Sukawangi, Bandung.
April 2022


‘It's a precious thing to be communicating with children, helping them to discover the gift of language and thoughts’. - Richard Scarry.

Children are learning machines absorbing everything around them, especially language. We as parents and teachers have a vital role to play in supporting our children’s growing literacy skills - and since we know that language acquisition can be more meaningful and productive when taught implicitly and within the context of a child’s daily life through conversations, rather than if it is only explicitly taught for conscious learning - it is up to us to encourage these conversations, and in doing so, enabling our children to bring to life their thoughts, feelings and ideas, and to share their fascinating inner worlds with us.

Recent research from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania showed that a child’s brain develops best through regular, back-and-forth exchanges of ideas. In the study, children who engaged in regular conversations with parents showed significant enhancement in the language processing areas of their brains.  It’s not the amount of words that you teach a child that matters, but rather the regular act of listening and conversing with them.

Encouraging and engaging in conversations with our children brings with it many long-term benefits.

1. Strengthens the Parent-Child Bond
To build a strong bond with children, we need to authentically connect with them. Connection starts with not just listening but also conversing. There’s a significant difference between talking to children and talking with them. When real conversations happen, no matter how simple they are, e.g. during dinner time or bedtime, they offer children the chance to express themselves, experience the feeling of being listened to and also of being understood. So, encourage these conversations and really listen to both what is being said and how it is being said - remembering that listening is not merely hearing, but rather, to be fully present without interruption or judgment. Showing your child that you are prepared to see things from their perspective, helps foster trust and mutual respect.

2. Contributes to the Development of Social Skills
Many of the best conversations happen spontaneously as we go about living our lives - whether it be in the car, over breakfast, on the journey to school, during family walks, bike rides, or when standing in line at the store… all of these are perfect times for conversations. Having successful and low stress regular conversations with parents and teachers, gives children the encouragement to speak with other people and in doing so they are able to grow their social skills - the ability to confidently converse with a wide range of people in a variety of situations and settings is a key skill for future success!

3. Encourages the Growth of Self-Esteem
Being both ‘seen and heard’ is imperative for the development of self-esteem. This visibility begins at home. Families who regularly spend quality time together, away from the distractions of technology, and other unnecessary ‘noise’, tend to encourage their children to be more open to experiment and risk taking. These children learn to view their world as a place of possibility and aspiration, rather than limitation and fear.

4. Builds an Awareness of the Wider World
Regular open and honest conversations between parents’, teachers’ and children, exposes these children to a wide range of topics, opinions and information about what is happening in both the child’s community and in the wider world around them. Having this awareness allows children to explore their place in the world through their own critical thought and actions. This awareness becomes increasingly important as the child grows into adolescence and adulthood.

So, now that we recognise the importance of talking with our children, what can we do to encourage it to happen?

We can apply the ‘Three T’s’ - Tune-In, Talk More and Take Turns.

1. Tune In - by paying close attention to what your child is saying to you. This includes responding and showing interest in what they are saying - both verbally and non-verbally. Some suggestions for really tuning-in are; to give your full attention to your child, make eye contact, get down to your child’s level and reflect or repeat back what has been said to clarify that you have understood the true meaning of what they are attempting to say.

2. Talk More - make talk-time a regular and constant part of your day/week. Put aside time to talk and ensure that you prioritize this time as important. Help your child to feel more comfortable in speaking with you by helping them build a more interesting and varied vocabulary - having more words with which to express themselves is of great benefit to our children. Work with your children on how to have different kinds of conversations - e.g. how to express anger, or hurt or disappointment - model these conversations so that they can ‘see and hear’ what they could sound like.

3. Take Turns - having meaningful conversations is in equal parts, speaking and listening. Think of a conversation with your child as like playing a game of catch. Just as you want the ball to go back and forth, in a conversation you want the words to go back and forth. Ask open-ended questions and encourage your children to do the same, seek clarification and respect your child’s right to do the same. Teach your children the right way to disagree with something that has been said and encourage them to be brave enough to give their reasons. But also, teach your children that they may not always agree with something that has been said, nor may everyone agree with everything they say.

To end, let’s return to the key message in Richard Scarry’s quote - i.e. the precious gift that we as adults have, as we guide our children towards finding their voices. Like any gift, we can choose to put it in the back of the cupboard and ignore it, or, we can choose to put it in the spotlight and celebrate its significance. For the sake of our children - let’s ensure that this is a gift that keeps on giving and being celebrated well into our children’s future!

Meiva Mutia R
March 2022


I Can Read Indonesia has built its reputation as a provider of highly successful English literacy programmes for younger children.

Typically our students have fallen into the 2.5 year – 12 year age group. We’ve helped these young learners become phonologically aware, and guided them towards; competency, confidence and fluency in reading and writing. We’ve expanded their English vocabulary and word power, and enhanced their ability to clearly communicate, understand and think critically in English – in short, we have helped place these young learners securely on their path to academic success.

Over the years, we have often been asked to consider expanding our educational outreach by introducing English programmes for older students, and whilst this has taken some time to come to fruition, it is with great pleasure that we can now announce the introduction of the I Can Read, Higher English Course, a new English programme especially for secondary school level students.

Continuing our partnership with Cambridge Assessment English, I Can Read will be using the Cambridge English ‘Empower’ series of books, and teaching and learning materials to deliver the Higher English Course.

Cambridge English Empower, has been developed by the highly experienced and knowledgeable team at Cambridge University Press. There are numerous reasons for us choosing the Cambridge English Empower series, below are listed just some of these reasons:

1. The developers of the Empower series, are world-renown experts in the field of English Language Acquisition.
2. Students can combine their studies with validated assessment from Cambridge Assessment English and gain globally recognised qualifications.
3. The course content is benchmarked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) – the international standard for describing language ability.
4. The Empower series has been developed to:
- Promote Learner Engagement – the topics, the graphics and the ways in which everything is   presented, is carefully managed to instil curiosity and to engage students to ‘want’ to learn.
- Provide Manageable Learning – the series has been carefully designed to ensure that learners are not overwhelmed at any point of their learning.
- Actively support Practice – it provides students with plenty of opportunity to review and practise both inside and outside of the classroom.
5. The content focuses on functional language and real world communication, making it relevant to the everyday lives of adolescents and young adults.
6. The content and teaching methodology is suited to both online and offline teaching.
7. Empower is supported by a user friendly online platform with advanced digital tools, allowing students;  ample opportunity for independent learning, automated assessments and scoring, personalised learning paths outside of the classroom, plus access to a wide range of relevant  supplementary learning materials.
8. Empower also comes with exemplary learning and teaching resources – designed to support both the teachers and the students!

I Can Read Indonesia will be offering our new Higher English Course in 6 different levels, A1 - Starter level, A2 - Elementary level, B1 - Lower Intermediate level, B1+ - Intermediate level, B2 - Upper Intermediate level and C1 - Advanced level.

To determine which level each student will be placed in, they will first sit an official online Cambridge English Placement Test (CEPT), which I Can Read will help arrange. This test will reveal their Common European Framework Reference level, i.e. between A1 and C1, which will indicate the Empower level best suited to that student based on their current English skill level.

The students will then be placed in a class with students of similar skill levels and will be assigned an I Can Read Teacher.

All I Can Read Indonesia Higher English Teachers:

Have Tertiary Qualifications – predominantly in the areas of Education, Teaching, English and Linguistics.
Have extensive experience in the teaching of English.
Receive regular Professional Development Training.
Underwent individual CEFR assessments to ensure they have the necessary skills and ability to best support older students.
Received specific training in teaching the Empower series.
Received specific training in best utilising the online platform and the associated digital tools.

So, given all of the above, why consider registering for I Can Read’s Higher English Course?

1. The Cambridge English Empower series is a leader in the global ESL market.
2. Students can combine their studies with validated formal assessments with Cambridge English Assessment,
3. Qualifications received following these assessments are globally recognised,
4. Globally recognised qualifications are imperative for gaining access to both higher international education and for opening the doors to successful national and international careers

Should you be interested in finding out more about I Can Read’s new Higher English Course, or if you are keen to register your child for an exam, please contact us through our website or talk to the team at your local ICR Centre – for more information on the ICR centre nearest you, please refer to our ‘locations’ page on this website.

Inge Wilhelm
February 2022


“My son always gets the highest marks in his English tests, but I rarely hear him speak in English.”

“My daughter can read, write, and listen in English very well, but somehow she is not that confident in speaking it.”

Do these sound familiar?

If you have been teaching English in Indonesia for quite some time, you would have heard these types of comments from quite a few Indonesian parents. You may also have noticed that many Indonesian students have a common trait: they struggle to verbally communicate in English despite having outstanding English scores on their report cards.

But why? Don’t good scores mean students should be able to read, write, listen, AND speak in English? What’s so challenging about speaking that causes so many of our students to struggle?

To answer this, we need to understand that the 4 skills in English – Reading, Listening, Writing, and Speaking – are fundamentally different. Although they all share some common features, like the need to learn English vocabulary, they have different key ingredients. Let’s look at some of the ways that speaking English differs from other English skills.

1. Limited Thinking-Time
When we are reading or writing, we can always stop to think. We can open a dictionary whenever we encounter unfamiliar words, we can take a moment to organize our ideas, or take the time to do some research. But we don’t have such luxury when speaking: we need to think as we speak. This is simply because speaking is dynamic and immediate – if we pause to think, we risk losing our audience.

2. Unfamiliar Sounds
Every language has its unique sounds, and we get accustomed to these as we grow up speaking the language. There are many sounds in the English language that we cannot find in Bahasa Indonesia. These unique sounds might not be very noticeable when we only have to listen. But when we have to speak and produce these sounds, we can find it challenging because our tongue is not used to creating these sounds.

As an example of this, in Indonesian we do not have any words with the sound “th” as in “this”, “think”, “with”, etc. For this reason, most Indonesians will struggle when they have to produce those sounds correctly.

3. Different Idioms
Apart from different sounds, a new language comes with a whole different set of idioms as well. For example, the Indonesian equivalent of “there’s no use crying over spilt milk” will involve rice and porridge. If we want to be able to express ourselves fluently, we have to get accustomed to both understanding the meaning of these idioms and how to use them correctly. 

4. Real-Time Audience
Having a real-time audience can have a nerve-wracking effect on us. For example, most people will find writing far less stressful than speaking, even if they only have to speak the exact same words that they write. This is because speaking is almost never a solo activity and involves real-time back and forth with real-time listeners. Knowing that other people are directly involved tends to put extra pressure on us, making us nervous or sometimes even anxious.

If we go back to our children’s English test scores, the main reason why good test scores aren’t always parallel to good speaking skills is because many school English tests focus on students’ reading and listening skills. If we think about our experience back at school, we can easily see this reflected in the numerous exams and tests we did in our English studies.

This situation is made more challenging by the fact that in most schools, English is taught as a subject, not a skill. Our students are taught how to get perfect marks in their tests, but not how to apply what they learn. Speaking time also tends to be limited in English classes and typically gets the least amount of attention.

So how can we help our children speak in English with more confidence and fluency?

1. Encourage them to start speaking! 
Yes, it is obvious that actively speaking is crucial for improving their speaking skills. Let’s think of it this way: if we want to play basketball, we might theoretically know everything about it – what to do with the ball, how many players are allowed on the court, maybe even the size of the court, etc. – but we won’t be a good basketball player just by knowing these things. We need to get out there and play basketball regularly, so that we can gradually improve.

2. Put them in an English-speaking environment
As we have seen above, Speaking is almost never a solo activity. Children may be reluctant to practice speaking if they don’t have anyone to practice with, or even any real purpose for speaking English. We need to put them into situations where they will be encouraged to speak in English with real purpose - like enrolling them in an English course with their friends or putting aside one day every week where all family members are encouraged to only speak English.

3. Encourage them to think in English
Being able to think in English dramatically reduces their dependence on their native language by reducing the constant need to translate between languages. This is not a skill that can be learnt overnight - for many children it will come gradually over time as they are both exposed to, and speak more English. Reducing this need to consciously translate, allows a child to think, listen and speak with more speed and fluency.

4. Normalise making mistakes
Most children lack the confidence to speak in English because they are afraid of making mistakes and feel that people will make fun of them. This makes them anxious every time they have to speak in English, particularly in the presence of others. We need to remind them that making mistakes is a normal process in all learning and they should not be embarrassed by it.

Learning a second language can be challenging, and English is arguably one of the most challenging of them all. Learning any of the key literacy skills – Reading, Writing, Listening or Speaking comes with their own demands, but, with the public aspect of Speaking, many children struggle just a little more to confidently show their spoken skills - even if they have them!

Our role as parents and teachers is to support our children as they gain this necessary confidence. We do this by normalising and encouraging the speaking of English in our homes and classrooms, by providing our children with ample opportunity to practise, by ensuring that we give equal time in our classrooms to reading, writing, listening AND speaking in English, and by getting alongside our children to learn and practise with them - as we all know, our children model their behaviour on our behaviour, so the more confident we are in speaking English, the more confident they will become!

Agus Haris Munandar
January 2022