Teams rise to the Chinese Challenge

The National Chinese Challenge was won by Nanyang Girls' High School in the secondary school category and Rosyth School in the primary school category. From left: The NYGH team of Lim Tse Hwee, 15; Ye Yu Tong, 16; Neo Xuan Ling, 16; and Cai Xin Rui,
The National Chinese Challenge was won by Nanyang Girls' High School in the secondary school category and Rosyth School in the primary school category. From left: The NYGH team of Lim Tse Hwee, 15; Ye Yu Tong, 16; Neo Xuan Ling, 16; and Cai Xin Rui, 16; and the Rosyth team of Stella Xiao, 12; Mei Fei Fei, 11; Lee Xuan Peng, 12; and Yang Zhun Zhun, 11. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

When the words "doctor", "special forces" and "Korean drama" flashed across the screen, the audience roared with excitement as the team from Nanyang Girls' High School (NYGH) pressed the buzzer immediately to answer "Descendants Of The Sun" in Mandarin.

The name of the popular TV show was one of the answers to questions asked during yesterday's National Chinese Challenge held at NYGH.

Now in its third year, the annual competition is a platform for students to learn Chinese in a fun way.

Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat, who attended the event, said: "As our environment is mainly an English-speaking one, the opportunity for our young to use Mandarin is more limited. Through interesting activities like this competition, we want to expose them to how the (Chinese) language can be used in day-to-day situations."

This year's competition was open to Primary 5 and 6 pupils for the first time.

In the primary school category, Rosyth School, Tao Nan School and Raffles Girls' School made it to the finals.

After a series of gruelling quizzes in which teams had to guess idioms from pictures and were tested on their knowledge of pop culture, Rosyth School and defending champions NYGH emerged victorious in the primary and secondary school categories respectively.

A record 1,300 students from 65 schools participated in the competition, which is organised jointly by Chinese news daily Lianhe Zaobao, Lianhe Wanbao, Shin Min Daily News, Thumbs Up - a Chinese newspaper for primary school pupils - and NYGH.

NYGH student Cai Xin Rui, 16, who was a member of the winning team, said: "The segment where we had to think of a story to tell within 15 seconds was the most challenging for me as we had to think on our feet even though we were very nervous on stage. Thankfully, we had rehearsed this as a group and it played out well in the end. "

Lee Xuan Peng, 11, from Rosyth School said: "By using Mandarin at home and reading widely, learning Chinese is not as daunting as people think it is."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Teams rise to the Chinese Challenge'. Print Edition | Subscribe