Forum: Learn from Switzerland, where citizens are conversant in three or more languages

I believe language skills are similar to motor skills. The more physical games a person is interested and involved in, the more likely he is to become a good sportsman.

Likewise, I believe the more dialects or languages you can understand or speak, the more likely you become good in some or maybe even most of them.

When they travelled abroad, Singaporeans used to be complimented on how they could speak so many languages and dialects.

Back then, many of us did understand and speak many dialects.

In those days, we watched Cantonese series from Hong Kong and comedy skits in Hokkien or Teochew on local television channels, and listened to radio stories told in Hakka and Hainanese.

We can learn from Switzerland, where citizens are conversant in three or more languages.

To me, this is evidence that the belief that one's brain has limited language skill, and that to be good in one we have to renounce the others, is wrong.

We should develop in our next generation a passion and love of studying languages, and not just limited to one's mother tongue.

Encourage Chinese students to study Malay or Tamil as well. I believe this would naturally improve linguistic abilities, including one's proficiency in his mother tongue.

Tan Keng Leck

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.