SINGAPORE, Aug 27 (Bernama) — Bilingual Singapore is gearing up towards “trilingualism” among its population by encouraging students to learn a third language, apart from English and their own mother tongue, even if it is only for conversational purposes.
“The ability to speak a third language is useful, and will help young Singaporeans of all races operate effectively in the region and beyond,” Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Saturday.
Proficiency in non-native mother-tongue languages would also help nurture increased interaction among the ethnic communities, friendships between students and ties between neighbours, across race and religion, Tharman said at the inaugural Mother Tongue News Writing Competition jointly organised by Innova Junior College and Berita Harian.
“We have to find every way to interest our children in our various races and cultures, give them as many opportunities as possible to interact in school, and give them confidence to talk to people of other races outside the school,” he said….
More than 40 schools, both primary and secondary, and junior colleges, have started to conduct conversational Malay as enrichment classes, with more than 200 other schools having expressed interest in starting similar programmes.
The ministry recently distributed a “Guide to Conversational Malay” to all schools to help them introduce such programmes.
“The Ministry of Education is currently developing a resource booklet for conversational Mandarin to help schools implement the enrichment programme for non-Chinese students,” Tharman said.
English is the medium of instruction in Singapore schools but it is also compulsory for students to take up a mother tongue language — either Chinese, Malay or Tamil.