As one with comparable competence in my English and Chinese, it troubles me that many of my friends struggle to learn the latter (“What ‘brand’ of Mandarin will you teach your kids?”; Feb 20).
Although it is my mother tongue, and I am generally more comfortable reading Chinese material on non-technical topics, the textbook and assessment mode can be a turn-off.
The language is taught with textbooks, and pupils’ impression of the language is shaped by the content.
The learning of Chinese often has a twin goal of imparting values, so I am not surprised that articles in the textbooks usually seem insipid to young pupils.
Also, the oral assessment requires pupils to discuss topics such as cleanliness campaigns and the kindness movement — they consider boring and seldom discuss in the real world.
This may lead them to dislike the language and thus have less of an ability to converse on normal occasions.
The rise of China is supposed to give Chinese Singaporeans an added incentive to master this language, at least with some working proficiency. This, however, does not seem to happen all that well.
Perhaps some of them do not know about the sheer progress in China.
What I would suggest is to revise the textbook and assessment mode, and taking the pupils’ age into consideration, to take the overly moral- and cultural-based topics out of the syllabus to change stereotypes some may have of the language.
Also, more students can be sent on immersion trips to Beijing, Shanghai and other Chinese cities.
This would help them to form a correct impression of how advanced the Chinese economy is and the significance of grasping its language to brace themselves for the future world.
If United States President Donald Trump’s granddaughter could start learning Chinese before she was two and can recite several poems by the age of five now, why can we not speak Chinese with better proficiency?
I hope students will get to learn chinese (if they are chinese) with different dialect together in schools. But make the dialect non-examinable, just for knowledge
Maybe Primary 1 -3 learn chinese with a dialect eg. hokkien, primary 4-6 learn chinese with canto/teochew/ etc
Then secondary school time learn English with Malay, or maybe tamil, but make those extra languages non-examinable
Maybe tertiary can have other language like russian german french etc
Next time want go out of sg to earn money maybe easier to communicate.
in other countries they trying to learn chinese so they can go out of their country and earn money
bcos chinese are everywhere.
To me, i would rather it to be taught in a mix; proper and standard chinese when writing, and mix of our uniquely Singapore Mandarin when speaking. There is no right or wrong, but rather how we can influence our next generation to appreciate the culture, instead of overzealously debating what kind of "Mandarin" should our kids learn.
The focus on the language itself has resulted as a effect of how important student perceived it to be.
We are looking at the majority of the subjects being taught in school. Students need to be proficient and competent in English, or else they might suffer not just in their language, but also other subjects. Thus, there is an emphasis on English language, but not the Chinese language.
It is true that there is a substantial amount of students(even adults) who are unable to express themselves well in Chinese. This is definitely a concern. But I do not feel that a change of textbooks or even syllabus will be able to change this behavior.
I also believe that as much as Singaporeans are unable to express themselves well in Chinese, we still have the edge in terms of picking it up relatively easy. We are exposed to the language for a prolonged period of time in school. This will allow the understanding of the language to be deep.
Given the availability of information on the Internet, I believe that it will not be difficult to improve one's Chinese, as long as one is willing.