Learning good spoken English has to start in pre-school

Students at a Kindergarten interacting with teachers.
Students at a Kindergarten interacting with teachers.PHOTO: ST FILE

Mr Ken Ong's suggestion is long overdue as the spoken English in Singapore is indeed poor (It may be time for a Speak Proper English campaign, July 2).

His observation and comment on the diction, pronunciation and speed of speaking of average Singaporeans are spot on.

I also agree with him that the problem lies in a child's early formative years. Therefore, learning good spoken English has to start from as young as pre-school age or, at the latest, from Primary 1.

There must be a nationwide programme to educate people on a standard set of English pronunciations, or at least for some of the common spoken words.

For example, I cringe when I hear people saying things like "Let's moniNter the situation".

We also either ignore the "r" in a word or sometimes over-emphasise it when we try to adopt a Western accent.

A compulsory nationwide English education programme in our early childhood schools, which should include phonics, must be introduced as soon as possible.

Yap Hock Chye

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 03, 2019, with the headline 'Learning good spoken English has to start in pre-school'. Print Edition | Subscribe