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Bilingualism policy was wrong

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http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...018826/1/.html

 

Insistence on bilingualism in early years of education policy was wrong: MM Lee

 

By Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 17 November 2009 2142 hrs

 

SINGAPORE: Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said his insistence on bilingualism in the early years of education policy was "wrong". Instead it caused generations of students to be put off by the Chinese language.

 

Speaking first in Mandarin and then in English at the official opening of the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language on Tuesday, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave a blunt assessment of Singapore's bilingual policy.

 

He said: "We started the wrong way. We insisted on ting xie (listening), mo xie (dictation) - madness! We had teachers who were teaching in completely-Chinese schools. And they did not want to use any English to teach English-speaking children Chinese and that turned them off completely."

 

Mr Lee added: "At first I thought, you can master two languages. Maybe different intelligence, you master it at different levels."

 

But his conclusions now, after over 40 years of learning Mandarin, cannot be more different.

 

MM Lee said: "Nobody can master two languages at the same level. If (you think) you can, you're deceiving yourself. My daughter is a neurologist, and late in my life she told me language ability and intelligence are two different things.

 

"Girls are better at languages because their left side of the brain to learn languages, as a general rule, is better than the boys. Boys have great difficulty, and I had great difficulty.

 

"Successive generations of students paid a heavy price, because of my ignorance, by my insistence on bilingualism. And I wasn't helped by the ministry officials, because there were two groups - one English speaking, one Chinese teaching."

 

Mr Lee said educators should first get the child interested in the language by focusing on the way it is heard and spoken. This includes incorporating drama and IT into lessons to make them more engaging.

 

Mr Lee said: "It doesn't matter what level they reach, they will like the language, it's fun, and later on in life they'll use it."

 

The need to make the Chinese language more appealing to students has been a focus of the Education Ministry in recent years and one way is to re-examine how the language is taught in schools.

 

So the new centre set up in February to train Chinese language teachers will soon offer degree programmes that include modules on curriculum design and teaching methods.

 

The programmes will be offered under four agreements that were formalised on Tuesday. They include a part-time degree for preschool teachers under a partnership with the SEED Institute, a training institute for early childhood educators.

 

Tan Chee Lay, deputy executive director, Singapore Centre for Chinese Language, said: "For students to learn, the golden age is from three to six. So in this period of time, if we're able to teach them well, they'll learn well and their language foundation will be there."

 

Other partners are the Media Development Authority (MDA), SIM University (UniSIM), and the University of Hong Kong.

 

There are over 4,000 Chinese-language teachers here and about a quarter of them have been trained by the centre so far. - CNA/vm

 

 

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I was shocked too when I saw the news yesterday.. LKY say "We started the wrong way. We insisted on ting xie (listening), mo xie (dictation) - madness! "

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what level of command of both language is considered as mastering both languages? I would dare lay claim to mastering both, but the definition of master may differ from people to people.

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does this mean govt will compensate us lump sum of $50k per person becos we did the worng thing by listening to them?

 

heh heh

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I am glad our gov have realised the 'mistake' and I hope things will get better from here. Should be better for future generations. A few of my cousins are doing very well, in their respective professions, in foreign lands. They wouldn't have made it to any JC, Poly, Uni, etc....cos 1 of them is no good in chinese, the other Maths, etc...but brilliant in others.

 

I hope the next would be to look into other subject such as science and maths. It should not be made compulsory for JC, POLY, Uni entry requirement if the course they are enrolling in does not involves such subjects eg. fine arts, music, law, medicine (no need to be good in maths), etc...

Edited by Silver_blade
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does this mean govt will compensate us lump sum of $50k per person becos we did the worng thing by listening to them?

 

heh heh

 

I do not expect ppl like these to compensate for what they did wrong in earlier times, I only expect ppl to learn and become better ppl and become better listener as they move on.

 

Are they doing so, even till now?

 

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What matters is what can be done to improve on the education system in teaching Chinese? Crying over split milk now is not very productive.

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hmmm...very very rare we have ah gong admitting his mistake..

 

lets hope whatever new syllabus they implement will be better..

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what level of command of both language is considered as mastering both languages? I would dare lay claim to mastering both, but the definition of master may differ from people to people.

 

I taste a bitter pacifier shoved into my mouth. I wonder if this script has been over dramatized for the impending political streaming exams.

 

Policy to learn will fail as with your policy to teach, its just barking up the wrong tree. Just admit it, 2 generations of cultural suppression. Go on, I dare you to admit it.

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i tink there is nothing wrong wif the bilingualism policy introduced 40years ago... infact, its the correct choice..

lets put it this way, 40 years ago, how may ppl can speak proper english in singapore? most of the ppl either speak their MT or dialect...however, the major business and trade would come from the US or europe at that time...

i tink the policy was introduced coz

1) the govt want everyone to know n speak their MT

2) everyone have to know english so that the we can trade with the developed countries (which are US n europe at tat time) n ultimately sg will prosper which is wat we have achieve.

 

if there is flaw in the policy, then its the fact that most ppl prefer to master english den chinese (i beleive that there was a time where ppl tink that speaking english is 'higher class' den speaking chinese...). so the 'mistake' if any, is the mentality of the ppl rather den the policy...

 

i tink most of us can converse well in both our MT and english, but when it comes to writing, i dun tink many of us can write a chinese compo as good as a english one.

 

we know y MM Lee is so concern abt this issue so much so that he said tat he made a mistake... china is likely to take over japan as the 2nd largest economy... n could be knocking on US door in sooner den we tink.....

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personally i think he do not mean that Billiingus is wrong. But rather the Way of teaching the language is wrong.

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I notice this policy only affect the chinese race, malay and indian still speak their MT well

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MM Lee said: "Nobody can master two languages at the same level. If (you think) you can, you're deceiving yourself. My daughter is a neurologist, and late in my life she told me language ability and intelligence are two different things.

 

My 1st spoken language is Teochew and I'm still speaking it at home now.

 

No wonder my England and China "shoooo lauzeee". [bigcry]

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Nothing wrong with this policy actually. Most of us are grappling with at a least dialect, Chinese and English during our growing up. Some even spoken Malay.

 

We need not master all the languages. Leave this to the linguist and those who intend to study languages at higher learning. More important to be competent in preferably 2 - mother tongue and English or at least one.

 

BUT, it was wrong to deny education progression based on requirements of passing of English and MT (for pre-U and U). Some fields could do with a sub-pass in English and most fields do not require MT pass (except maybe language faculty).

Edited by Kangadrool

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learning from ah gong......i say "ah gong, explain why u make this mistake!!!"

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