Speaking good English connects people

Since 2000, Singapore has had a Speak Good English Movement to promote the use of standard English.
Since 2000, Singapore has had a Speak Good English Movement to promote the use of standard English.PHOTO: SPEAK GOOD ENGLISH MOVEMENT / FACEBOOK

In his letter (It may be time for a Speak Proper English campaign, July 2), Mr Ken Ong suggested the need for a campaign to encourage the use of proper English.

Since 2000, Singapore has had a Speak Good English Movement to promote the use of standard English. Various generations of volunteers have served in a steering committee to help raise awareness of the importance of good English. The last chairman, Mr Goh Eck Kheng, served a decade in that capacity.

The movement has since refreshed its ranks and the new steering committee has been hard at work planning new ways to make the movement fun, approachable and, hopefully, relatable. Colourful posters with fun messages, such as "Let's be understood from Newton to New York" and "Let's be understood from Eunos to Edinburgh", have appeared at bus shelters across the island urging Singaporeans to connect with others using good English.

We agree with Mr Ong that speaking good English has practical and personal benefits. Good English supports business and workplace communication. It also gets us understood anywhere in the world where English is spoken.

Good English is a way of connecting with colleagues, bosses, business associates and friends. This is why our new tagline for the movement is "Let's Connect. Let's Speak Good English".

We hope you will share this with family and friends on social media with the hashtag #LetsConnect. We also hope you don't see us as a "campaign" - we have never called ourselves that. Instead, we aspire to be a movement that is relevant to people's lives.

At the same time, we acknowledge that Singlish is a cultural marker for many Singaporeans. We do not see Singlish to be in direct conflict with what we do. We are a movement that promotes the use of standard English to those who are willing to improve their competency, without the need to diminish or exclude any group, including Singlish speakers.

We welcome all Singaporeans to find out more about us and what we do through the resources on our website, our Facebook page and our YouTube channel. If we haven't been visible to you, we are certainly doing more now to be seen and heard. Let's connect, let's speak good English.

Jason Leow

Chairman

Speak Good English Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2019, with the headline 'Speaking good English connects people'. Print Edition | Subscribe