OK to use English to teach Chinese in Singapore schools says MOE

The Education now says it’s okay to use English to teach Chinese.

How times have changed!

Thousands of students from English-speaking homes and others who struggled with Chinese had had their lives changed forever. Without a pass in Chinese they could not enter the local universities so some packed up and left Singapore for good while many other families spent a fortune sending their kids overseas for an education.

The dogmatic and rigid way Chinese was taught is now being faulted.

Now the political elite are seeing the light. Possibly because their own children or grandchildren are struggling with the language.

Using some English to teach Chinese is common sense really eg to explain the meaning of a word or expression. Why beat around the bush when an English equivalent can be given?

In fact, millions of Chinese in China are learning English this way ie teachers use Chinese to explain the meaning of a word or expression (the other way round).

However, there’s a problem here. What if the Chinese teacher doesn’t know English seeing that there are many PRC teachers in our schools? Then they must use a bilingual dictionary or learn English.

All that emphasis on Chinese in Singapore should result in many speaking and using the language in their daily lives, don’t you think so?

But the sad truth, from my observations, is that once they’ve thrown away their dreaded Chinese textbooks when they left school, for the majority Chinese is gradually forgotten like Algebra, Calculus or Chemistry.

Much ado about nothing?

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6 Responses to “OK to use English to teach Chinese in Singapore schools says MOE”

  1. It is kind of annoying to hear how Chinese is being taught. First you have Chinese ‘B’ and now you have this. I don’t understand what’s the preoccupation with learning Chinese. Let those who want to learn, learn.

    Given the state of English in Singapore today, perhaps the government should focus on how English is taught. Use Chinese to teach English, like how the PRCs are learning it?

    I can see how the PRCs are laughing at us – both our English and Chinese cannot make it.

    • Learning Chinese is now equated with greater economic opportunities. I agree with you that those who want to learn, learn.Those who can’t, let them learn another second language. Yes, PRC students may be laughing at us – both our languages only a half-baked proficiency.

  2. If there is indeed greater economic opportunities, people will flock to learn Chinese. I don’t think a half-baked Chinese ‘B’ can give you much opportunities anyway.

  3. Hello friends,
    Great post, very well written.
    You should blog more about this.
    I’ll definitely be subscribing.
    Have a good day..

  4. My children have battle scars! But both never made it.

  5. The inevitable question that arises is why it took the authorities so long to realise that all was not right despite the reams of feedback. Is Singapore an OMO (One Man Operation) like the buses? Basically, that’s the root of many problems in Singapore. An OMO nation, where the voice of one person no matter how distinguished, can impede progress.


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