I REFER to the report, "Learning Chinese by rote a mistake" (my paper, Nov 18).
As one of the many students who were affected by the second-language policy in the early 1970s, I was comforted to read that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had admitted that the pedagogical methods employed in teaching Chinese had got off on the wrong footing.
It is even more heartening to know of his determination to right the wrongs.
Throughout my primary and secondary education, I agonised over having to memorise the Chinese characters for ting xie (spelling) and mo xie (dictation).
It did not help that I had teachers who punished us harshly for not being able to cope and failing the tests.
In Primary 2, I had an unforgettable experience.
I had a Chinese-language teacher who inhaled medicated oil as she walked up and down the classroom while giving us mo xie.
If she caught us staring blankly while mulling over how to write the characters, she would not hesitate to rub the oil into our eyes.
I fell victim to this many times.
In Primary 6, another teacher made me stand outside the classroom throughout the Chinese- language lesson for having answered a question wrongly.
Such experiences put me off learning the language.
To this day, I am capable of communicating in Chinese only verbally, albeit haltingly.
Students nowadays are so lucky to be able to learn Chinese in a conducive environment.
I regret having been born too early.
MR CHRISTOPHER TEO KIAN LAM
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