The key to mother tongue mastery

Chinese Literature students at Nan Chiau High School giving a presentation.
Chinese Literature students at Nan Chiau High School giving a presentation.PHOTO: ST FILE

As English is the universal language for communication, parents and teachers use English more frequently at home and in school. As a result, children lack opportunities to speak and learn their mother tongue, resulting in deteriorating proficiency in the language (Exposure at home key to kids picking up mother tongue, June 4).

The home environment plays an important role in shaping children's fluency in their mother tongue.

From a young age, I was raised by my grandmother and had no choice but to communicate with her in Chinese because of her lack of proficiency in English. She would teach me to read and write Chinese characters, memorise Chinese poems and idioms.

As a result, my fluency in my mother tongue was always better than that of my peers and I would always score high marks in my mother tongue examinations and compositions.

Languages cannot be learnt over a short duration but require practice over many years.

Arissa Lee, 15,
Secondary 3 student

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 17, 2019, with the headline 'The key to mother tongue mastery'. Print Edition | Subscribe