Characterisation is one of those writing techniques that can really jazz up a composition. It does not require a lot of effort. – A few key phrases to describe your characters and a commitment as a writer to let your audience know who your character really is.

This year, P5 students were tested on different on components for their mid-year Weighted Assessment. (Some of my students had no tests whatsoever though). One of my students, T, who had composition writing for her WA did exceptionally well (with a score of 37/40) and I was really happy when I read her composition. She joined TF in primary 4 and her main concern was her grammatical and structural mistakes.

While those have greatly improved with regular weekly practice, her plots and characters have also transformed in-depth. I really enjoyed reading about May and the difficulties she faced and how she overcame them in a competition.

It always makes me happy to see my students using the techniques they learnt during our lessons in their school work and examinations.

T used the characterisation technique throughout her composition and was committed to writing about an interesting and realistic protagonist. Well-done T and I hope scoring so well on your first P5 composition exam will motivate you to continue to be a great writer!

1. How to use the characterisation technique for your English composition?

Students can use the technique, Characterisation, to describe the physical characteristics of a character and a character’s personality.

1.1 Using the characterisation technique to describe the physical characteristics

The emphasis on a character’s physical aspects is usually done in lower primary. Students learn how to describe someone tall, short, old, young, dangerous-looking, a thief, or a policeman. In the WA compo below, our student describes her protagonist May as a mousy girl with wiry, untidy hair and a flat nose. This allows the reader to imagine May as an ordinary schoolgirl with no outstanding physical features. She even has a disadvantage as she has wiry, untidy hair which gets her into trouble in school.

1.2 Using the characterisation technique to describe a character’s personality

More detailed descriptions of a character’s personality are emphasised mostly in upper primary. Is a character an introvert or an extrovert? Lazy or motivated? Lonely or sociable? In the WA compo below, T described May as an introvert who Having almost no friends, May was often lonely.

We hope that this short explanation of how the technique of characterisation can jazz up your composition (and helps you score well for your examinations), will motivate you to use this technique in your compositions.

2. P5 English composition model on the theme of a competition

Note to students

The model compositions in this blog are to help students generate ideas and to be used as a guide. Students are not allowed to copy the model compositions and then pass them off as their own work, especially in school. It is called plagiarism.

A Competition

              May stood in front of the poster that everyone was crowding around. Everblue Primary School’s Got Talent competition was taking place in two months’ time. They were looking for anyone with talent to sign up for the competition.

“This is so exciting!” “I want to be a star!” “I’ll show off my magic act!”

Other students around May were chatting excitedly about the upcoming competition. Everyone,  except May. She simply shook her head and walked quietly away.

              Standing in front of the school bathroom mirror, May thought back to the time two years ago, when she stood up on stage to sing her favourite song. May was a mousy girl with wiry, untidy hair and a flat nose. While all the other girls, combed their hair in the latest trend, May had trouble keeping her hair neat. Her classmates would snigger behind her back when her class teacher commented about her untidy hair.

I can’t help it, May thought to herself, I didn’t ask for this hair. Having almost no friends, May was often lonely. Her mother had encouraged her to join the singing competition two years ago so that she could make new friends.

“You have a beautiful voice May. You sing like an angel. Everyone in school will praise you for your singing talent!” her mother had said.

Believing her mother, May signed up for the competition. However, on the day when she was on stage, May suddenly had stage fright. She could not remember a single word of her song. Her cruel schoolmates laughed mercilessly at her. May burst into tears and ran off the stage. From that day on, May was made fun of every day in school. She became even more introverted and did not speak to anyone.

“May, I would like to speak to you,” Mrs Lim, her caring music teacher, said after class.

Mrs Lim then told May that she had signed her up for the Everblue Primary School’s Got Talent competition.

“It’s time you show the world how talented you are in this competition!” Mrs Lim said firmly while May stood rooted to the spot with her mouth hung open.

“I know that you are concerned about your stage fright but we will work together to overcome this every day after school. I have already spoken to your mother and she agrees with me,” Mrs Lim continued.

May had no choice but to nod her. She could not go against her favourite teacher and her mother. Biting the bullet, May went home and chose the song that she was going to sing. Then every day after school, she practised with Mrs Lim in the Music Room. Her parents and cousins supported her by bringing friends over on weekends and having May sing in front of them. May worked hard for the competition and on the day, although she felt nervous, she knew that she was ready.

              “Are you going to make a fool of yourself again?” snarled one girl backstage.

“You can’t even sing!” said another mean girl to May.

May ignored the bullies and focused on her song. When she went up on stage, her heart was beating wildly against her chest. However, she took a deep breath and sang her song. May sang melodiously, hitting all the high notes. The school auditorium was in complete silence, mesmerised by May’s voice. When the song ended, there was only silence. May was confused and felt awkward on stage. Turning to walk off, May suddenly heard a thunderous sound echoing. Everyone was standing up, clapping for May. She could not believe her eyes. Mrs Lim was so proud of her that she rushed on stage to give her a hug.

May won the first prize in the competition. Her nickname in school from then on was May the Songbird. Everyone wanted to be her friend. May understood that by winning that competition, she had proven to everyone that she was a good singer.

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