My sister was the top 8% in the SAP scheme at Nanyang during her school days, studying both English and Chinese as first languages. Her daughter Nat is studying Chinese weekly in Germany. She complained to me only on Saturday that she felt like giving up, as her daughter has not made any progress since studying Chinese three years ago. But when she broached the subject of stopping Chinese lessons to Nat, surprisingly, Nat wanted to continue. (Chinese is Nat’s third language, with German and English being the other two.) I think my sons would have gladly given up. Thus, I can’t wait to reward Nat for her preserverence when she visits in July. Perhaps a dics of Chinese songs?
Both Mike and I studied Chinese as a First Language at O’levels. Languages were either studied as a first or second language then. Nowadays, English is the main language while the other being mother tongue (MT), or if one is capable enough, one can take on higher MT. We communicate at home and at work mostly in English and it’s no surprise that our kids have trouble coping with Chinese.
Why don’t one of you speak in Chinese and the other in English when you speak to your kids? We were often asked that when the kids were younger. Like all theory, it’s good on paper but not in practice. The father is hardly home to do any communicating, and this mother wants the quickest way of getting her message across.
A friend decided to speak to their children totally in Chinese at home and leave any English speaking to the school environment. I was reluctant to try that, as past experience in Nanyang showed that my classmates from Chinese speaking home tended to do poorly in school as they could not grasp the English taught in many subjects.
So in the end, we stuck to using English at home and Chinese were even tutored by me using English. Both the two older boys managed to get A for Chinese in PSLE, which doesn’t mean anything if you are aiming for the top schools, only A* counts. But I was their tutor, and I gave myself a pat for their aceivements. It wasn’t an easy feat for me.
As a GEP student, Aaron needs to do higher Chinese. Even with a tutor from China, he is still struggling, managing only a B in most tests. So the news that MT weightage could be cut in today’s ST brings some relief to me.
I wonder what Aaron will say.