Singapore to allow electronic Chinese dictionaries in exams

Students in Singapore will be able to use certain government-approved handheld electronic Mandarin dictionaries in national exams beginning in 2007. Some printed dictionaries are already allowed for ‘O’ level mother tongue composition exams and, from next year, will also be permitted in PSLE mother tongue composition exams.

The electronic dictionaries will be allowed in the Chinese language composition part of the PSLE and GCE ‘N’, ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels.

I’ve written to the company that makes one of the approved electronic dictionaries, the Hansvision Handheld Dictionary PX2051, for details but have not received a response. The product costs S$24 (about US$14).

The move to allow the electronic devices is in response to a report issued last year by the Chinese Language Review Committee that recommended their use.

Basically, students are finding Chinese characters just too much trouble, so Singapore, wisely, has changed its approach to teaching Mandarin to focus more on speaking and listening. Now if it would just place more emphasis on Pinyin….

source: Electronic Chinese dictionaries to be allowed in national exams, Channel News Asia, October 25, 2005.

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