Tech tools add fun, challenge to learning Malay

Game apps in the language are featured at Fiesta Bahasa event

Putra Irwan, 10, has never climbed a mountain before but now he knows what a summit is in Malay.

"Puncak" - which means peak in Malay - was one of the new words he picked up yesterday after playing with a new Malay-language game app.

The app aims to foster a love for learning Malay in primary and secondary school students through technology.

Putra, a Primary 5 pupil from Lianhua Primary School, said: "It makes learning interesting - the graphics and game play are a new way to learn words."

The app was among the things featured at the Fiesta Bahasa event yesterday.

The annual event, which is now into its third year, aims to help students develop an interest in the Malay language.

This year, about 600 students took part in the fiesta.

This year's Fiesta Bahasa theme revolves around the use of technology to better teach the language.

For instance, Tembok Kata, or Word Wall, is a Scrabble-like game developed by the Malay Language Learning Promotion Committee (MLLPC), where students earn points by forming Malay words.

Their computer opponent forms words as well, and students can tap on new or unfamiliar words and open up a dictionary to learn the meaning of the word and how to use it.

Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who launched the app at the National Library's plaza yesterday, said such technology opens up new ways of teaching and learning languages, particularly mother tongue languages.

He said: "Mobile apps provide bite-sized learning - learning that is consumable in smaller bites but still follows a coherent learning path."

The fiesta, which is organised by the Ministry of Education and MLLPC, also showcased information displays and game booths set up by schools, curriculum developers and supporting partners such as the Malay Heritage Centre and the National Library Board.

It included students from Hwa Chong Institution, who designed a Malay variant of Boggle, called mBoggle, which is played on a computer.

Players have to form as many Malay words as they can using cubes with letters and pair them with other cubes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Tech tools add fun, challenge to learning Malay'. Print Edition | Subscribe