Saturday, November 28, 2009

Again and Again

Once again, the issue of the teaching (& learning) of Chinese as a second language in schools continues to be discussed after MM Lee Kuan Yew's recent interview was published in a magazine.

I see the same old arguments in the Straits Times Forum page: those who are die-hard "all or nothing" pro-Chinese-at-the-highest-possible-standard; and those who had struggled with the language when they were in school & who are happy that FINALLY, the Power That Is, announces publicly that the original bilingual policy may have been a mistake.

I have blogged about this before, so am not going repeat my opinions.

I am skeptical, though, if the changes that have been made to the system will work better than previously or not. I still hear my friends who still have kids in the Singaporean education system, lamenting about their childrens' struggles with Mandarin, and can only breathe a sigh of relief that my own two sons do not have to go through that. And yet, they can get by with the Mandarin they have learnt here in Beijing (and I am going to go out on a limb & say that their accent is a lot more authentic than the Singaporean accented Mandarin we hear in Singapore), and have enough vocabulary to be able to communicate (for the most part!) with the local Chinese in China for the usual activities of daily living.

If they wish to pursue a higher level of Mandarin as they eventually move into tertiary education, they can still do so, but for now, they (and I) are quite happy with what they have achieved so far.

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