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MinMin
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(Forum News) Flaw in Singapore's education system MinMin Oct 8th, 09, 11:54 PM #1
Flaw in Singapore's education system



I refer to Miss Jane Chan's letter, "Why we can't speak English - or Mandarin - well", as well as Miss Jessica Walker's letter, "Teachers can't do it alone".

While I agree with Miss Chan and Miss Walker that it's a combination of societal influence, family, and educators that make up the language abilities of a child, I also think that we're missing something huge in this picture.

For years I have been bemoaning the fact that the Ministry of Education has a huge flaw in its language education system. What many don't know is how teachers are trained.

Firstly, some background information: Recent studies by Patricia A. Duff from the University of British Columbia have shown that it is important to develop a child's first language literacy, before introducing a second. The optimal age for a child to develop its first language skills are between the age of 1 to 13.

Granted, in Singapore, both languages (English and a 'mother tongue') should ideally be developed as first languages, the important point to take away here is that the optimal age for first language acquisition, which is between age 1-13.
Secondly, as we all know, Singapore's primary school teachers are known to teach at least two out of the three core subjects, that is, English, Mathematics, and Science (EMS).

What most people don't know is that teachers who undergo training to be a primary school educator enter the National Institute of Education and major in only one subject - either English, Chinese, Malay, Tamil, Physics/Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics, History, Geography, Music, Art, or Physical Education.

With the exception of Mother Tongue, Music and Art teachers, all other trainee teachers are also expected to take some modules of other subjects, which really barely skim the surface of those subjects, and from there, they are then expected to be able to teach those other subjects well, too.

While that is highly disturbing, let's focus a bit here on trainee teachers who major in English. In order to seek admission to NIE, the minimum requirement is a pass in English Language at O Levels.

In order to major in English, the requirement is to obtain a good pass the English Proficiency Test (which is honestly a piece of cake). From here, we already know that there are little or no pre-requisites at all, for one to major in English at NIE.

Of course, teachers who score higher on the EPT will be of a better position to apply for a major in English. However, upon graduation from NIE with a BA (Education) or BSc (Education), all newly installed teachers are sent to schools and assigned to teach at least 2 subjects, with 1 being a subject of their university major, and the other, any of the other remaining 2 subjects of the EMS group.

Which means teachers who barely scraped a pass in English at O Levels, could now be teaching your children English - and mind you, some of them really have no grasp of grammar rules at all.

These teachers are then going to be passing on their lack of understanding of the English Language and its rules, to students aged between 6-13, during the typical primary school years of an average child, whereby language acquisition is at its optimum.

Isn't this something MOE should look into, first, if it is now becoming an irrefutable fact that Singaporeans are growing up with an incorrigible command of the English Language (and add to that equation, their Mandarin is no where near first language mastery either)?

I say, don't blame the teachers, don't blame the families, and don't blame society. Blame the ones who crafted our language education and general education policies.

Daphne Maia Loo

Flaw in Singapore's education system


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Pcyborg Oct 9th, 09, 02:21 PM #2
Then start hiring ang moh to teach english. If Singapore can afford to bring in so many foreigners, I don't see how they cant bring in a few native english speaking teachers to teach the children. I'm freaking sure the writer wouldn't doubt the teacher if he or she is an ang moh.
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lennardseah Oct 9th, 09, 04:28 PM #3
lol it'll be cheaper china teachers soon
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forest Registered User


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forest Oct 9th, 09, 04:49 PM #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pcyborg View Post
Then start hiring ang moh to teach english. If Singapore can afford to bring in so many foreigners, I don't see how they cant bring in a few native english speaking teachers to teach the children. I'm freaking sure the writer wouldn't doubt the teacher if he or she is an ang moh.
the english standard of some ang moh is also very bad!
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Del_CtrlnoAlt Oct 9th, 09, 05:54 PM #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by forest View Post
the english standard of some ang moh is also very bad!
same like doesn't mean u're born in China = ur chinese is good...

some ppl are just simply shallow and superficial...
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Pcyborg Oct 9th, 09, 11:44 PM #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by forest View Post
the english standard of some ang moh is also very bad!
Exactly. But to them, what are the chances of doubting the ang mohs when their native language is English? Its like how some people will always condemn another group of people, and will always hold another group in high regard even when its clear cut that the latter are worse or in the wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lennardseah
lol it'll be cheaper china teachers soon
And if china teachers can seriously deliver the standard of what the parents want, I doubt they will make noise. Until they found they're from china that is.
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silverx Oct 10th, 09, 04:44 PM #7
Its just a bad case of stereotyping here. Some parents are frustrated by FTs at work and the frustration boils over when they learn their kids are being educated by FTs. Classic case of if one is bad the whole lot must be condemned.

The govt scheme can only succeed if they really do proper screening and bring in the real FTs and not those that are only mediocre. A good start will be in bringing in people like Jamie Oliver to teach culinary skills, Adrian Lamo or Kevin Mitnick to teach IT security etc...
I don't see how getting so called FTs with skills similar to the working population already available here can actually help with bringing our local talents up a notch.
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lennardseah Oct 10th, 09, 11:06 PM #8
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