~ KATHERINE BARG ~
Teaching and Writing Experience
Mrs Katherine Barg is an NIE-trained English teacher, who has taught in both Singapore and Australian schools. She worked as an MOE English and English Literature teacher before she left Singapore in 1999 for Sydney, where she continued her teaching career under the Department of Education in New South Wales. Upon returning to Singapore in December 2007, she worked at Singapore Management University, teaching writing to undergraduates. In addition to her extensive classroom experience, she has published English assessment books for primary levels, taught writing workshops, designed language curricula, and trained English and writing teachers in both Singapore and Sydney. Since 2008, all but one of her private tuition students in Singapore who tried out her method have scored Distinction for their PSLE English examinations. The one child who improved his score from "F" to "B" worked with Barg for less than three months. Barg's work with students of all ages and backgrounds gives her a unique perspective to understand how students acquire language skills at different stages in their academic careers.
The Success of Her Writing Pedagogy
While living and teaching in Australia, Barg founded Einstein's Planet, an English literacy centre in the prestigious North Shore of Sydney. Although many native speakers were initially sceptical of a Singaporean-run English school, the effectiveness of the methodology spoke for itself. Einstein's Planet's curriculum was so well received that the little school grew exponentially within three years, just by word of mouth. Students who graduated from the primary school programmes requested secondary school classes, and even native speakers were turning up to learn how to write well for their scholarship examinations. As high-quality teachers of English are hard to come by, Barg expanded her school cautiously. Together with her dedicated staff, they provided well-rounded English enrichment classes with a heavy emphasis on writing skills and strategies. This method of teaching requires them to equip students with excellent English skills as well. As a result, even students learning English as a second language were excelling in the subject at Australian schools.
Many students went from borderline cases to scoring Distinctions and High Distinctions at the annual UNSW Writing and English Competitions. Many of Barg's students also gained entry into "Opportunity Class" in primary schools, which accepts only exceptional students (much like GEP in Singapore). The little Singaporean-run English school became an urban legend in many immigrant communities of Sydney, and there were year-long waiting lists for classes at her Einstein's Planet.
Her Continued Pursuit of Excellence in Singapore
In 2011, Barg and her family decided to put down roots in Singapore. With the help of professional Singaporean teachers, curriculum specialists, and academics, she has further enhanced her enrichment programmes to suit the needs of local students. Barg opened The Write Connection (TWC) out of her passion for teaching English and writing. Another personal reason is to provide her own young daughters with world-class instruction in English learning.
The programmes at TWC are pedagogically sound and the methods that Barg has advocated from the start are focused on building bridges to help individuals in their learning and personal development (please see testimonials). The unique culture at her school means that she does not only recruit technically competent teachers, but teachers who are dedicated to their chosen profession. Barg believes in setting high but realistic standards for teachers and students. She encourages everyone to reach for the moon because, even if they miss, they will land among the stars. This, her favourite encouragement, has stood her in good stead.
"Thank you, Ms Katherine, so much for all your support both academically and socially during my time in Singapore. I think I am really lucky to have been taught by such a wonderful teacher as you. I am really grateful to be your student. If it was not for your help, I think I would not have been able to get 2 A1s in both my English and English Literature. My parents are really grateful for your help."
Nguyen Nhat Ha, Aged 17