Mon, Apr 26, 2010
The Straits Times
'Yes' to bilingualism but be practical

THE Ministry of Education is moving in the right direction by reviewing the weighting of mother tongue languages in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

I have long wondered why mother tongue had such a high weighting in the PSLE. The exam enables pupils to advance to the next level of education, which is the O levels.

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In the O levels, however, mother tongue is only one of the five to eight subjects students are required to master. Thus I see a huge disconnect between the PSLE and the O levels.

It seems more logical to give a higher weighting to English as most subjects are taught in that language. Without a good foundation in English, students will struggle in secondary school.

To a lesser extent, mathematics and science are also required, depending on which stream the student is in.

So with the current 25 per cent weighting given to mother tongue in the PSLE, are we allowing the 'right' students to advance to the O levels?

Yes, we should continue to nurture bilingualism, but it should not be at the expense of pupils weak in mother tongue.

I see a strong need to adjust the weighting of mother tongue in the PSLE. Please do so quickly so many more pupils can benefit.

Angelina Lim Ling (Ms)

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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