At Marsiling Secondary School, students learn to do batik painting and play the angklung as part of Malay language lessons.
They also read and discuss stories by renowned authors such as Khadijah Hashim, and put up puppet performances after that.
These unconventional lessons were thought up by Malay language teacher Rashidah Abdullah to spark students' interest in the language. "These days, students are using mainly English. It's a challenge for teachers. We have to think of ways to interest students in their ethnic languages," said Madam Rashidah, who is head of the mother tongue languages department in the school.
For her efforts, Madam Rashidah, 48, was among five recipients of the Arif Budiman Malay Language Teachers' Award.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the ceremony that through the Malay language, teachers can "seed knowledge on heritage, culture and values in students".
"This contributes to our multicultural Singaporean spirit and identity," he said, speaking in Malay at the event at Marina Mandarin.
He said Malay language teachers play a part in encouraging students to pursue their interests and seize opportunities in the new economy. He urged teachers to upgrade themselves professionally and academically to "instil a similar zest for lifelong learning in our youth".
The other award recipients are Mr Azhar Abdul Rashid, 33, of East Coast Primary School, Madam Azah Abdul Aziz, 45, of East Spring Primary School, Madam Norafizah Shariff, 50, of Unity Secondary School, and Madam Siti Zainab Zainal, 32, of Yusof Ishak Secondary School.
The teachers received a sponsorship for an overseas professional development programme, a trophy and a certificate of achievement.
PM Lee said he was heartened schools are providing a conducive environment for students to experience and enjoy the Malay language.
He added that encouraging the learning of the mother tongue requires collective effort, and pledged the Government's support through language promotion agencies such as the Malay Language Council Singapore.
He added that learning English and the mother tongue is a challenging but "worthwhile endeavour".
"Our unique blend of mother tongue languages is certainly an asset that sets us apart from other societies," he said.