Pupils can start taking Higher Malay and Tamil earlier, from Primary 3 and 4

Malay language teacher Khaizuran Supa'at and her pupils during a Higher Malay lesson yesterday at Westwood Primary School. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Higher Malay Language (HML) and Higher Tamil Language (HTL) will be offered to Primary 3 and Primary 4 pupils in all schools, following a successful pilot that began last year.

Both higher language subjects are already offered to Primary 5 and 6 pupils, but will be an option for younger pupils to foster deeper knowledge and appreciation for these languages and their cultures.

HML and HTL will be offered to Primary 3 pupils next year, and to those in Primary 4 in 2023.

This complements existing offerings of Higher Chinese Language offered to pupils from Primary 3 to 6.

This was announced by Second Minister for Education Mohamad Maliki Osman on Friday (April 9) during a visit to Westwood Primary School, where he observed HML lessons being conducted.

Westwood Primary School is one of the schools in the pilot, which began with 35 schools last year and has 54 this year.

Dr Maliki said: "From the pilot, we have seen that there is value in creating more opportunities to learn Mother Tongue at a higher level at an early age. Based on the classes I observed, the pupils' interests have been sparked and their language proficiency is quite high. It speaks volumes of their confidence."

He added that pupils will read a lot more literary works and learn more about their respective values systems and cultures through the new curriculum.

Madam Khaizuran Supa'at, who teaches Malay language at Westwood Primary School, said the HML curriculum allows teachers to stretch high-performing pupils to reach their fullest potential.

"The topics in HML are extensions of the normal Malay language curriculum. In HML, pupils are more exposed to literature and activities that instil critical thinking," Madam Khaizuran added.

One of her pupils, Iffah Radhiah Mohd Farid, who is in Primary 4, said she enjoys HML lessons for its extensive group work and exposure to the Malay culture, which makes learning much more exciting for her.

Mrs Jayasutha Vijay, subject head for Malay and Tamil languages at Seng Kang Primary School, teaches HTL as part of the pilot programme which started at her school last year.

"At first, I was worried the pupils in the pilot HTL class would be overwhelmed, but I was surprised and happy at how excited they were to learn. They took the initiative to learn about historical stories in the Indian culture at home from their parents and online before sharing what they learnt with their peers," she said.

Dr Maliki, who is chairman of the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee, also launched two books of Malay short stories for Primary 5 and 6 pupils at Westwood Primary on Friday. The books, part of the Nabil Nabilah Reader Series, were distributed to all primary schools at the start of Term 2 in March.

Comprising localised stories, the series was written by primary school Malay language teachers to promote a love for reading among pupils and to enhance the early development of literacy skills in the language.

Ms Elna Hussien, subject head for Malay and Tamil languages at Westwood Primary, contributed a story about living in Kampong Lorong Buangkok, the last surviving kampung in Singapore, in the hope that the younger generation will learn values of teamwork and resilience as well as the history of the place.

Dr Maliki said: "We feel that we should develop interest in the learning of language among our pupils as early as possible to develop greater interest, understanding and appreciation of their cultures and heritage. Language is really a door that opens us up to our identities, cultures and heritage."

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