Voices Of Youth

Forum: Third language in primary school

Boon Lay Secondary School students leaving the school's parade square after assembly.
Boon Lay Secondary School students leaving the school's parade square after assembly.PHOTO: ST FILE

In a rapidly changing world, it is important to equip our youth with the necessary capabilities to adapt to the working world.

While Singapore's education system equips Singaporeans with critical 21st century skills, I think that an additional option of taking up a third language in primary schools will benefit the vast majority of Singaporeans.

Currently, only pupils who performed well in the Primary School Leaving Examination can choose to take a third language in secondary school. However, all pupils should have a choice to study a third language.

Learning a third language opens doors to foreign universities and increases job opportunities in international enterprises. This is crucial for young Singaporeans who have to compete in an increasingly globalised world.

It is during a person's youth, when his brain is still developing, that it is the easiest for him to pick up new languages and skills.

Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which are similar to Singapore culturally and geographically, are multilingual, and many people there can speak at least three languages. My cousins in Malaysia learn Malay, English and their mother tongue.

By extending third language options to primary school pupils, we will prepare Singaporeans for the 21st century.

Wong E Jeh, 12

Secondary 1

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2020, with the headline 'Third language in primary school'. Print Edition | Subscribe