Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dilemma on language

Read this article by Seah Cheang Nee.

My comments
I prefer the allow the student to choose a second language, which may not be their mother tongue. Those who find Chinese difficult to learn can choose Malay or another language.


C H Yak said...

"I prefer to allow the student to choose a second language, which may not be their mother tongue. Those who find Chinese difficult to learn can choose Malay or another language."

It was that way when I was a student, during the time when Dr Goh Keng Swee was Education Minister, I may recall just as our nation mourn his passing now. I don't think learning Chinese then had been more difficult or simpler than today.

But I do appreciate I had some good teachers then. I learned it the "natural" way. Every idiom learned also means a new story (fable)heard. There were no native news readers from China on TV or China students in the same class to benchmark for competition. On TV, we enjoyed Cantonese sword fighting serials. At home, it was Hokkien dialact for me. And also Hokkien dialact everywhere else outside. Perhaps at that time, there was even a blur line between what was Chinese Culture and Communism.

The question that should be asked now is : "Just because to please a growing number of antagonised parents, is it worthwhile to "dissect" the existing model for teaching MTL as if on "an operating theatre" by just looking at teaching and examination methods, particularly by quick-fixing it with different "weightage" in an important examination like PSLE?

It is a "bigger" problem today just because many of the younger parents today are equally incompetent and helpless in the Chinese Language.

Changing teaching methods may help to a certain large extent just as in any other examinable subject, but for language learning, it is hard to create the "larger" environment to just push learning up to a new higher level; not necessarily the "perfect" level.

Why are parents and kids comfortable with the teaching and learning of English? It is because English is popularised as a commercial language and the "larger" environment is there to facilitate its teaching and learning, although we may not have reached the "prefect" English speaking standard yet, such as to realise that the use of “weightage” is improper and non-existent in the English vocabulary.

A fact remains that this group who are facing problem learning the Chinese language has chosen to stick to their own English dominant enclave despite the absence of the “larger” environment in Singapore. This action could be "dooming" in itself.

jamesneo said...

As a chinese i feel that no matter how difficult it is to learn, the benefit in terms of understanding ones roots will be invaluble which can only occur if we continue to learn our own language and history. What can change for example is the way it is taught creatively. There is no need to change the percentage for the primary levels. Although my chinese has not been very good during my sec and JC levels, i feel glad that my struggles have enabled me to comprehend the words in the Chinese newspaper although my written skills have almost been lost.

Anonymous said...

A Chinese is a Chinese. Wherever he goes, he remains a Chinese, be he a Singapore Chinese, Malaysia Chinese, Indonesia Chinese, US Chinese, etc. Nobody can change this, even God.

As a Singapore Chinese, I am glad that my mother-tongue is a language used by 1.3 billion of people in the world, who are now in the ascendant. The big environment in the world is changing now, after the rise of China and India in the East.

Science and technology will not forever remain strongest in the West. China and India are catching up fast. Japan and Korea are already equally good.

On the issue of mother-tongue, what is important is the inheriting of the spirit embedded in the culture of our origin country. The philosophy, literature, art, etc of our origin country is one of the richest in the world. Some Singaporeans do not appreciate these priceless assets simply because they do not know our mother tongue.

In the recent rebate on the issue, the bilingual group of Singaporeans strongly against the move to cut weighing for mother tongue. Why? it is because they know well their mother-tongue and hence use two eyes, instead of one, to look at Singapore, the East and the West, and the world as a whole.

My family language is mother-tongue. My 3 children, all now have graduated from local universities, have no difficulty in mother-tongue at all.

Why don't parents communicate with their children in mother tongue at home? There are many reasons. But one of the reasons is, I believe, that they feel superior and complacent in speaking English over their mother-tongue!

If we want to become "banana" people, we can forgo our mother tongue, forget our Chinese root!

There is an ancient story about an animal called "horse-deer" (马鹿) in China. This animal looks like horse but not horse, looks like deer but not deer. Its strange appearance astonishes the villagers who do not know what actually the animal is and call it horse-deer. This animal can neither live in harmony with the group of horses nor deers in the village and soon disappears. No one in the village know where it has gone to.

Once we have become the "banana" people, we shall have the same fate as the horse-deer after a few generations down.

Our Singaporeans must see thing in long-term perception and not because of some difficulties encountered. success can only be achieved through hard work, there is no other easy way out.

Anonymous said...

Chinese language is no more difficult than English language...Actually MUCH MUCH easier as our 2nd language as compared to our 1st language.
Why are all crying foul of DIFFICULT Chinese language??!! What a Joke! So sad...
Why are so many of you behaving exactly like our govm whom so many have complained on it's handling of other issues....Sad.

Anonymous said...

From a "chiese educated" perspective:"Why last time it was so difficult to learn English?"
It was very expensive to engage some one to teach you because people who know english could get good jobs and hence was expensive to engaged.

We really had a very very hard time trying to learn the language, and no one seemed to care. We were left to struggle very very very hard on our own.

Already we were poor and were very hard to get a good job, then it was so expesnive to learn the language on our own.

Now it is the best time to learn because with so many "cheap labors" it is "dirt cheap" to learn chinese.

In time to come, when they becaome rich, when it is easy to get good jobs in China, they will go home.
There will be very few in spore who are really good in teaching chinese, and it would very expensive to learn the language, like what we had encountered some 30 years ago.

By then Chinese language would be very important. No matter which trade you are in, you need to know the langaue to stay with the latest technology / knowledge. By then it would be too late even if you are very eager to learn.
No one is going to force you to learn. It is yr own decision!!!!

The smart ones are those who hv good foresight!!!!

Anonymous said...

If you are a Chinese by your father's race, you will find it extremely difficult to obtain permission to study e.g. Malay, even if your mother is a Malay.

But if you are a Malay or an Indian and want to study Mandarin for your MT, getting permission is a breeze.


Anonymous said...

sporean don't seem to understand or appreciate the value of chinese value, philosopy, history, etc. But the Japanese and Korean do. They transalated most of the ancient chinese books, and they know so much about chinese "thinkings" and history. They learnt and they had produced many world class businessmen and entrepreneurs.
At one time, the world even thought that Japan will be "world's number 1".
The lessons from Chinese history and the "thinkings" from ancient china has help many countries (UK included) to be great countries.
One day Chinese will see the value of these teachings, and they will also become a very strong and a great country.
Your children's future is in yr hand. Be prepared.

Anonymous said...

I loved the quote "You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink". That's true, and the crucial points of the teacher's role in motivating the learners is closely related with the quotation.

Teachers, have on their shoulders the responsibility to teach every day through updated technologies, strategies and practical approach that help students to be beter at the language learning; the second part depends on the willingness and the ability and capacity of the learners to follow.

Conclusion, let nature takes it's course........never use force to make a stundent a "Zombee"

Anonymous said...

Should the “weightage” of Mother Tongue Language be reduced and reduced by how much?

To answer the above, we need to know the current “weightage” of MTL.

Can anyone tell us the current “weightage” of MTL?

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