Much to gain from speaking proper English

I agree with Mr Tan Teck Huat that most of our students fail to articulate their words clearly and distinctly (Speaking English well matters too; Jan 29).

The Speak Good English Movement was launched in 2000 to champion the use of standard English.

However, the reality is that most Singaporeans are unable to switch effortlessly between Singlish and grammatically correct English.

Proponents of Singlish view the English-based patois as unique to Singapore and an expression of our multicultural identity.

But, if Singlish continues to be thoughtlessly acquired, it will be saved in the long-term memory of our students as an acceptable form of English.

Our ability to speak standard English suffers when we spend too much time interacting with others who speak a sub-standard form of the language, since we naturally tend to adopt the speech that is heard most of the time around us.

Adding Singlish into the mix, thus, serves only to confuse and hinder the learning of standard English.

Young Singaporeans entering the working world are hampered by their inability to be understood globally.

All things being equal, we are far more likely to advance in our careers if we utter grammatically correct English without incorporating elements of Chinese and Malay into our speech.

Proper spoken English defines us as educated people whose views and opinions are taken seriously. A strong command of the language is likely to lead to better-paying jobs, greater social mobility as well as more social success.

Edmund Khoo Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2018, with the headline 'Much to gain from speaking proper English'. Print Edition | Subscribe