Photo - Students playing Word Mania
More than 21,000 students across 900 schools in Malaysia are participating in a nationwide online word-building competition called 'Word Mania,' which is open to all primary and secondary Malaysian students with an activated 1BestariNet ID.
Malaysia's YTL Communications firms FrogAsia and Yes [4G service brand] joined forces with Australia's LiteracyPlanet and used the 1BestariNet project to host the games-based learning initiative.
Initially launched on 2 January 2014, the competition started with a practice round followed by three competition rounds that will lead to Grand Finals event in March 2014, said FrogAsia's executive director Lou Yeoh.
Yeoh said that both individual student effort as well as collective school effort are recognised as results and are being judged according these categories: Lower Primary (Top 3 winners), Upper Primary (Top 3 winners), Lower Secondary (Top 3 winners), Upper Secondary (Top 3 winners), 3 Top Scoring Primary Schools, 3 Top Scoring Secondary Schools, and the Most Participative School from each of the five regions across Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
These different categories will give smaller schools and schools in different regions more opportunities to win, he said. "The amazing thing about an online competition like this is that there are no physical boundaries for participating. Students from both urban and rural schools across Malaysia now have an equal chance to improve their spelling skills in a fun and interactive way through the Internet and technology."
"Having a good command of English is so crucial for equipping this generation of Malaysians for the global marketplace," said Yeoh. "And the way English is taught needs to be relevant to their everyday lives. With the amount of exposure that a child in today's world has to technology, games-based learning is the way forward."
Improving English skills
YTL Communications chief executive officer, Wing K Lee, said, "We are happy to be able to collaborate with FrogAsia and LiteracyPlanet to host Word Mania Challenge for the first time in Malaysia. Through this, it doesn't matter whether the students are from urban or rural schools, they have the same opportunity to engage in an exciting friendly competition, and at the same time, improve their English skills along the way."
LiteracyPlanet chief executive officer Chris Roberts said Malaysia was the first country outside Australia to positively adopt such an initiative.
"The amount of engagement we are seeing on Twitter and its spread beyond the major urban centres demonstrates how universally popular a game-based learning approach can be," said Roberts. "I am convinced that parents and teachers across Malaysia will see the side effects with students demonstrating improved English skills and with smiles on their faces!"
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