Primary One and Two English Textbooks in Singapore :
An Analysis of Text Types and Question Types

Ong Siew Yee Elizabeth

English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2003


With the intention of better serving national interests, the syllabus committees in Singapore have developed new primary and secondary English language (EL) syllabuses throughout the decades. However, the syllabus is only one of a series of policy statements regarding language education needs in Singapore. In addition to the English Language Syllabus, the textbooks themselves are the clearest articulations of a revised educational policy. Due to the recent implementation of the new EL Syllabus 2001 and the launching of the 'Thinking School, Learning Nation Initiative' in 1997 by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, it is vital to do a research to examine the contents in instructional materials used in Singapore schools. Moreover, there is also a lack of research that investigates the instructional materials used in Singapore schools.

This study will examine reading comprehension texts in four types of instructional materials that have been used at primary one and two levels in Singapore schools since 2001. These instructional materials are My Pals Are Here!, In Step, Celebrate English! and Treks. The study seeks to investigate if students are exposed to a wide variety of texts (as stipulated in the English Syllabus 2001). It will examine if the text structures and language features of selected reading comprehension texts in My Pals Are Here! match closely with the templates of true text types. This study will also examine the type of questions set for the selected texts using Question-Answer-Relationships strategy developed by Raphael (1986).

This study concludes that My Pals Are Here! does not expose students to a wide variety of reading comprehension texts. Most of the selected texts in My Pals Are Here! also diverge from the expected text structures of true text types. It is also found that all the selected texts deviate from the expected language features of true text types. However, the findings reveal the presence of higher-order thinking questions in My Pals Are Here! for the majority of the narrative texts, general knowledge texts, conversations, instructions, personal recounts and the list. All these findings will have implications for teachers in their reading comprehension instruction and may cause the schools to re-evaluate their selection of instructional materials. These findings will also draw the attention of specialist textbook and assessment book writers as well as curriculum developers to the areas for improvement in reading comprehension materials and syllabus design.