Wednesday, March 14, 2012

15 months after K2

One of the things that bugs E tremendously ever since M started Primary school last year is the rate that M is picking up Singlish. 

My boy who speaks rather good English with a slight British accent just 18 months ago is now peppering his speech with Singlish phrases and has even managed to string together some 'broken' English sentences. 

He seems rather amused by his ability to speak some Singlish though I am fairly certain he isn't fully aware of how much his spoken English is deteriorating. 

This really irritates E who corrects M at every opportunity. 

While this irks the dad, it doesn't quite bother me. I think it is inevitable that M will succumb to peer pressure and end up speaking some Singlish as part of his attempt to fit in. Kids this age don't want to be different from others. And I know for a fact that M wants to fit in.

As long as he realizes the difference between Singlish and proper English and is able to 'switch' from one to the other with ease, it is fine. 

What truly bothers me is the lack of opportunities in the school curriculum to teach and hone questioning skills and train the students to be inquisitive. 

From what I've heard and understood from M, lessons are conducted in such a manner that there isn't time nor opportunity to ask questions. Teachers just teach content and children are supposed to listen in class and get the work done. According to M, the content taught is also so straightforward that there isn't anything to ask. 

Why? Isn't fostering a culture of inquisitiveness an essential element of education? I get it that the teachers have a lot to complete during the lessons and it is hard managing a class of 30, but it doesn't make me feel any better. 

Sure, I have expected this years ago when I was considering between local and international schools, but I also hoped that things will improve by the time M is in Primary school. Looks like there is still a lot to hope for. 

This just means that we must ensure our boys continue to be stimulated and challenged at home, especially in honing their thinking and questioning skills. 

After all, the more important goal should always be this - to teach a child how to question, so he enquires for a lifetime. 


6 comments:

The Beauties In Our Lives said...

Shirley, I faced exactly the same problems when Nicole entered P1 years back. Suddenly, she came back home speaking Singlish and she thought it was cool because so many of her friends were speaking it. Even the non-Singaporean British or American kids in the school started to speak Singlish because that's the best way to fit in. But like you, I played it cool, so long as we speak good English at home, and so long as they know the key differentiation between speaking Singlish to succumb to peer pressure vs what good English truly is, I am fine. I also had issues with her pri sch with regards to critical thinking and nurturing an enquiring mind. I enrolled my daughters into a preschool that encouraged them to speak out and ask questions, but she was distraught when teachers told them to conform (ie stay SILENT) in P1. That being said, when she got into the gifted class of just 22 kids this year, I noticed things had been different, with teachers encouraging the students to enquire more, to participate more in discussions, to ask more questions. But then again, it is another issue of leaving the best part of education to only a certain elite group of students in Singapore that I have issues with.

Jayne said...

It helps that he has had 6 years of solid foundation at home. :-) I'm sure he will be able to switch between the 2. Sometimes J & K like to joke around in Singlish. They think adding a "LAH" at the end of every sentence is so funny. I just let them have their fun.

Domesticgoddess said...

Linette, I've also heard that students are encouraged to be inquisitive in the gifted stream, which is something to look forward to. But like you said, it is unfortunately only for the small selected group and one must wait till Pri 4 to ask questions, which is so ridiculous.

By the way, I didn't realize that Nicole is in the gifted class now. Good for her! Last I read, I thought she didn't make it for the second round of selection. The GEP is a good programme.

Domesticgoddess said...

Jayne, I'm hopeful that after speaking good English for so many years and we are still insisting that they do (at most times), it will help the kids switch between the two.

I would let the kids have some fun too. After all, don't all the ang mohs add their LAHs and MAHs and MEHs just to have a laugh. :>

But the peer influence can be damaging if we don't keep an eye on it. My boys do come home with some hilarious sentences and phrases!

Madeline said...

We as parents can switch easily from formal English in schools n spoken informal singlish with our friends so I suppose our kids will learn the same thing too :)

Domesticgoddess said...

Madeline, I also know too many adults who are stuck with Singlish and aren't aware of the difference between good English and Singlish.

I have no issues if one speaks good English with a neutral accent (think LKY! :>). But bad English is just not English.

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