How The Chinese Language Syllabus Changed In Singapore
Learning the Chinese language for someone who is not spoken it before might be intimidating. More so if subjected to a classroom setting where almost all of the students know their Chinese language. This is what Lianne Chia felt when she was a student at Tanjong Katong Secondary. As an adult, she went back to the same school to learn Mandarin in just a matter of three days.
She dreaded many things when learning the language including the dictation where they are given a weekly test to challenge their vocabulary and she would fail most of the time regardless of doing everything in her power to memorize as well as practice. She also does not like the amount of Chinese idioms they have to memorize and should reproduce during exam time.
It is a rule in every Mandarin class that speaking English is not allowed. She managed to scrape by with a grade that will allow her to enroll to a university. After which she decided to toss away those Chinese textbook and never looked back since then.
Now as an adult, she tried learning the language once more after she met with a staff from the Ministry of Education. This is when she learned of the evolution that the Chinese language has undergone ever since she left school. This is why she decided to try and see the changes for herself.
Then, the students are taught to memorize but now the method has shifted so that the students are motivated to fall in love with the Chinese language and practice it with their everyday life. Unlike the rule before where English is totally prohibited inside the classroom while learning Chinese, it was no longer applicable and instead students are encouraged to use English when trying to explain words that are to complex or if they want to clarify something.
While Mandarin is one of the top languages spoken in Singapore, many fear that there are only a few households that still speak the language at home. This is why learning Chinese should never stop regardless of the changing syllabus.