SINGAPORE: New initiatives to improve the teaching, learning and speaking of Standard English have been announced at the official launch of the Speak Good English Movement 2006.
The Education Ministry has been in the midst of an English Language review since September 2005 to look at ways of improving the teaching and learning of the language.
It is reviewing the English curriculum and pedagogy, and is also committed to more teacher training and development – all this to level up the standards of English among students who come from very different language backgrounds.
One in two students in Primary 1 speaks mostly English at home, compared to 1996 when it was only one in three students.
But a recent survey found that six out of ten English speakers speak Non-Standard English, so this year’s Speak Good English Movement aims to have Singaporeans recognise and use English that is commonly understood around the world.
It will have various programmes and two ambassadors, former Nominated MP Eunice Olsen and student Nathan Hartono.
“If we want our Singaporeans to be proficient in any setting around the world, then it really starts by giving them some foundational skills as well as competence in a basic area like language, so that they can … communicate their ideas and connect with people in order to be able to project themselves and profile themselves better,” said RADM Lui Tuck Yew, Minister of State, Education.
As part of the English Language review, the Education Ministry has been consulting widely with students, teachers, parents, employers and various educational institutes.
It has conducted a survey of some 3,600 students from both primary and secondary schools, and an online survey of more than 1,000 English teachers.
The ministry will also be looking into how the English curriculum and methods of teaching can be enlivened for the students through literature, multimedia, and speech and drama.
“At the core of it, we want our children to love the language and to see the language as something they carry with them for the rest of their lives. That means beyond their career; it means communicating with others, it means enriching their lives,” said Lim Lai Cheng, Deputy Director, Languages and Literature, Education Ministry.
Also on the cards is a focus on training, with possible customised courses for teachers, and possibly supplementing the current pool of English teachers.
“I would say that teacher proficiency and competency is uneven. What we really need in our schools are more good teachers. I don’t particularly care where they come from. We are prepared to bring in people that can contribute to the system in a variety of different areas, as teachers from abroad have done over the years. So the discussion should not be centred around ‘are they better than us’ or ‘we’re not as good’, but it is in line with what we want to do,” said RADM Lui.
There will also be support from the community, with initiatives spearheaded by the National Library Board and the mass media. – CNA /dt/ct
Channel News Asia