Students who love Chinese can be 'new force' for language

Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling (right) checking out one of the Chinese apps that won an award in an app development contest organised by SCCL. Mr Ong gave out the awards yeste
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung and Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower Low Yen Ling (right) checking out one of the Chinese apps that won an award in an app development contest organised by SCCL. Mr Ong gave out the awards yesterday.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Minister says those who are good at it must be encouraged to raise the bar and keep it alive

Students who have a better grasp of Chinese should be encouraged to raise the bar for themselves and keep the language alive, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said yesterday.

"We must continue to groom these children who love Chinese," he said in Mandarin.

"They may further their studies in tertiary institutions. We must encourage them to do so, and when they graduate, they can be a new force for the Chinese language in Singapore."

He added that at secondary and post-secondary levels, students can choose Chinese language courses that vary in their degree of difficulty, so they should not be held to identical standards.

Instead, teachers should help their students improve according to their own learning needs.

Mr Ong, who was the guest of honour at the opening ceremony of an international conference hosted by the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language (SCCL) at Suntec convention centre, was addressing about 1,000 educators and scholars yesterday.

CORNERSTONE OF EDUCATION

Our mother tongue languages are the cornerstone of Singapore's education system... Learning languages is equivalent to learning about cultures, values and the philosophy of life... These help to cultivate a sense of belonging and familiarity in Singaporeans, and give us confidence to face what lies ahead. In a globalising world, this confidence is important.

EDUCATION MINISTER ONG YE KUNG

The conference, which ends today, will focus on the topic of teaching and learning Chinese as a second language. It aims to help educators adapt their Chinese language teaching style to keep up with the times, while retaining their existing knowledge.

In his opening address at the conference yesterday, Dr Foo Suan Fong, executive director of the SCCL, said in Mandarin: "In the 21st century, change is the only constant. This also applies to how we teach language."

Mr Ong also said that students who are better in Chinese should be provided with classes appropriate for their level, such as classes on Chinese literature.

"In the subject of literature, we have introduced more local works that are excellent for students to enjoy, as well as gain a deeper understanding of society and life in Singapore," he said.

 

"Our mother tongue languages are the cornerstone of Singapore's education system... Learning languages is equivalent to learning about cultures, values and the philosophy of life... These help to cultivate a sense of belonging and familiarity in Singaporeans, and give us confidence to face what lies ahead. In a globalising world, this confidence is important," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2018, with the headline 'Students who love Chinese can be 'new force' for language'. Print Edition | Subscribe