In 2004, HESS Educational Organization took an enormous step forward by opening its first international branch in Singapore. Singapore is seen as the educational hub of Asia, so it seemed like the next logical step in the company’s growth. The branch has developed over the years, adapting to the needs of Singaporean and international students, while remaining true to the HESS method and philosophy.
The school is located on the East Coast, in the quaint, historically conserved Joo Chiat neighbourhood. We aim to be a member of the community. Our teachers and principal are familiar faces in the community, and the area is quite used to our activities, especially our Halloween “trick-or-treating.” Unlike HESS branches in Taiwan, South Korea, and Mainland China that teach North American English methods, HESS Education Centre and its students use British English.
HESS Education Centre offers English classes to students from the age of 18 months to 12 years old. These classes are Enrichment classes and are usually held on the weekend. Children from 18 months to 3 years old attend our Bilingual Play Group. Vocabulary, sentence patterns, numbers, writing strokes, and phonics are taught through games and activities which also develop fine and gross motor skills. Nursery 1 and 2 and Kindergarten 1 and 2 continue with Enrichment, as they learn to read through both sight words and phonics.
Not only do students learn to read proficiently, but thematic books also are read to practice reading comprehension. Students develop their writing skills as they progress from writing letters to sentences to small creative-writing pieces. The programmes create confidence through a variety of games and activities, speech and drama, and positive rewards. At the end of each term, the students perform on stage, which makes students comfortable speaking and singing in front of groups of people.
International Camp Confidence was held for the first time in 2005, and initially, we had only students from our own schools in Taiwan join us. But over the years, we have also hosted camps from Indonesia, Thailand, China, and smaller study groups from Korea.
A camp usually lasts one week. During the Taiwan schools’ winter and summer vacation, a different camp arrives each week. There is a maximum of 80 students in a camp, and each camp is divided into four teams. Each team is led by an NST and a CT.
The aim of the camp is to guide students to gain confidence, become more independent, develop team work skills, create leadership skills, practise speaking English, and of course, to visit Singapore. In the mornings, the teachers lead the students in fun, interactive lessons, and in the afternoons, they all go on excursions around the island. The lessons and the excursions relate to each other, and the students will practise the language skills taught in the morning. It is a busy schedule. The teams bond quickly and ride a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the week. It’s a rewarding experience for both students and teachers. Students will remember fondly the teachers and friends and the time they had together, but they also walk away with newfound independence and confidence. Teachers seem to gain even more. For many, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience because of the amount of responsibility required to make sure that the students have the time of their lives.