No excuse for poor English

It is appalling that, in Singapore, we generally do not speak or write good standard English (Time to improve standard of English here, by Mr Joe Teo Kok Seah; Oct 2).

This despite the fact that English has been the sole medium of instruction in our schools for decades.

About 60 years ago, my peers and I managed to pass the Senior Cambridge English paper with credits and distinctions.

We had no money to buy novels to read and there were no public libraries for us to borrow books or magazines.

But we studied hard because we were poor and knew the importance of doing well in the language. We studied our grammar books like the bible.

Back then, many fine journalists and English language teachers were non-graduates, but they wrote and spoke flawless English.

Today, English is not only the sole medium of instruction, but it is also the common language used by all Singaporeans at work and play.

The language is everywhere: on television, radio, the Internet, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, cinemas, public libraries and so on.

There is simply no excuse for the poor standard of English.

Tan Kim Hock

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2017, with the headline 'No excuse for poor English'. Print Edition | Subscribe