Review of Teaching of Mother Tongue Languages


From Minister Speech in the 12th Principals’ Appointment Ceremony:

Here’s are excerpts of the speech touching on upcoming changes in Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) teaching:

“…today, nearly 6 in 10 Primary 1 Chinese students come from households where English is the dominant home language, compared to 1 in 10 in 1982. For Indians it has increased from 3 in 10 to 6 in 10; Malays—0.5 in 10 to 3.5 in 10. For MTL, we cannot expect the same outcomes or teach the same way as we have before, when the speaking environment in homes today, indeed in society, is radically different compared to that 20 years ago, or even a decade ago.”

“…a review to make the teaching of CL more engaging and useful, to keep pace with our changing language environment. Basically, we will need more and differentiated approaches to cater to students with a wider band of language abilities and home backgrounds.”

“…we will have to re-calibrate our expectations and teaching methods to keep CL alive and useful for them. Our aim is to emphasise and teach CL for students as a live language they can use, in the modes which they are likely to use. We will have to update our curriculum, teaching methods and even tests to keep in tandem with changes in our society. We do want to make the learning of CL more engaging and fun, but students will still have to make the effort to learn CL.”

“…we will continue the emphasis in speaking and listening, to make the learning of CL more relevant and useful for students…We will increase further the oracy component but details will be announced in due course, with adequate time for students to prepare well. Third, we will use more info-communications technologies platforms to help students learn and write the language. ICT tools are widely available and indeed what people use through emails or SMS-es to communicate in daily life and work.”

“…As with all subjects, we must align teaching methods, curriculum and testing formats to achieve the right outcomes for CL…we are interested in these other systems as they are more tailored for students with home language environments that approximate a growing segment of our students. Their end points have a different emphasis—less focused on writing components but more targeted to help students use the language and build confidence progressively—a goal we share.”

“…We are likely to evolve our own model, by integrating the most appropriate features we find in good teaching systems around the world.”

“…These changes re-affirm our bilingual policy. We are responding decisively to on-going trends and preparing our students for their future. We will not get stuck in any mental mould or system even when they have become less effective or relevant in changed circumstances. Instead, we must remain open to new ideas, methods and tools that are available to more effectively help all our students with different abilities learn CL. We want to engage all our students, help them become proficient in using the language—to converse and read in everyday contexts.”

“…The upcoming changes will require some re-training, but these changes will be introduced over time, to minimise disruptions. I want to commend our CL teachers who have responded positively in the past to change. They recognised the need to adapt to changing circumstances with the interests of our students at heart.”

This is one of the most important speeches delivered by Minister about Mother Tongue (Chinese) language teaching. Exciting times ahead😉

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