Singapore is a racially and linguistically diverse society, with four official languages, namely English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil.
Singapore Language Policy
To facilitate communication among different racial and dialect groups. The Singapore bilingual education policy makes English the main official language and all students are required to study a second language. To encourage students to retain and pass on their ethnic root, culture and values, students’ second language is usually their mother tongue, correspond to their ethnicity (Mandarin for Chinese, Malay for Malays and Tamil for most Indians).
Chinese As Second Language
As second language is a compulsory subject, almost all Chinese students study Chinese as a second language. However, students facing exceptional difficulties with their mother tongue (for example, due to learning disabilities or spending years overseas) can opt for a simpler syllabus (Mother Tongue B syllabus) or even complete exemption from Mother Tongue.
On the other hand, as students are allowed to choose their preferred second language, some non-Chinese students who are Caucasians, Indians, Malay or of other races are also opting Chinese as their second language.
Higher Chinese – Uniquely Singapore
“Higher Chinese” is a term that can only be found in Singapore. It is one of the subjects in school curriculum known as “Higher Mother Tongue (HMT)”, which is another uniquely Singapore term.
Higher Chinese is offered only to students with a strong aptitude for Chinese as a second language. Higher Chinese students who demonstrate higher ability and interest can progress to pursue Chinese Literature in their tertiary education.
Over the years as English becomes the dominant language spoken at home, most students find it difficult to cope with their Chinese language subject, despite its relevance to ethnicity. The economic advantages of English further exert increasing pressure on the students to assimilate towards English at the expense of their mother tongue. Chinese language lessons have to be made more interactive and fun for students, in hopes of increasing their interest in the language rather than perceiving it an academic subject.
Chinese Enrichment And Tuition Classes
In a predominantly English speaking environment, it is challenging for students to learn and master Chinese language in school and at home. Many children show very little interest in the Chinese language and perform poorly academically in the Chinese language subject. Parents are finding all means to get their children a head start in Chinese language learning.
In an effort to help their children kindle their interest in the Chinese language and establish a positive relationship with mandarin, parents are sending their children to Chinese enrichment tuition classes.
Chinese And Higher Chinese Tutor
Engaging a Chinese and Higher Chinese tutor is a more popular approach as a tutor is able to integrate a personalized approach to help students acquire Chinese language skills. A knowledgeable Chinese tutor can turn a complicated pinyin lesson into an interesting one. An experienced Chinese tutor would help the student through with the most suitable learning method. Apart from academic learning, a good Chinese tutor is able to help students understand and appreciate interesting topics such as Chinese history and culture.