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Thu, Aug 27, 2009
my paper
Get back to basics to promote good English

OUR poor use of English has evoked a great deal of commentary and controversy in recent years.

So, it is good to continue having the annual Speak Good English Movement, now in its ninth year.

But to achieve its desired result, the movement should study the issue more closely. Our deplorable standard of spoken English is due to a few factors.

Firstly, the problem lies in the proliferation of Singlish, so much so that many foreigners think this is the English spoken by the average Singaporean.

It does not help that some even go so far as to say that Singlish should be encouraged and nurtured as part Singapore's identity.

If this sorry state of affairs is left unchecked, Singaporeans may end up speaking pidgin English or, worse, unable to distinguish it from standard English.

Secondly, unlike in the past, when we were taught syntax, phonetics and semantics - important aspects of learning a language - schools today apparently do not attach much importance to these fundamentals.

The situation may be remedied with the employment of experienced expatriate teachers of English.

Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng


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