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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Singapore, Mailbox

Why Singlish has to be discouraged

The Straits Times | Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Author Lee Hui Min argued that the widespread use of Singlish shows up a serious shortcoming in our language teaching and education system ("Singlish shows up a Singapore failure"; last Sunday).

Despite the Government's best efforts to encourage Singaporeans to speak good English, it is true that standards have fallen.

Apart from the lack of emphasis placed on the humanities, particularly literature, in our education system, the onslaught of high-tech gadgets has crippled our verbal communication skills.

We have become so addicted to our tech toys that we have lost the ability to use good English to communicate with one another.

We ought to take a closer look at how English is taught in schools. If students were taught good communication and presentation skills from a young age, enabling them to speak and write good English, it would have mitigated the problem we face today.

As this has not been done, Singlish has become an acceptable mode of communication.

Proponents of Singlish argue that it cuts across racial differences and represents our ethnic diversity and national identity.

But Singlish is characterised by disregard for grammar rules and proper sentence structure, contributing to falling English standards here.

We need to establish a proper foundation of spoken and written English at all levels.

The need to communicate intelligibly is reason enough to discourage the use of Singlish. Such a need cannot be overemphasised in the context of the globalised metropolis that we live in.

Letter by V. Subramaniam (Dr)

This article was published on May 11 in The Straits Times.

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