Friday, April 23, 2010

Revisiting the assessment of Chinese at PSLE

Lesley-Anne was featured in the Straits Times yesterday (if the print is too small to read, click on the image):

If you've read my original post on this topic in March, you will know how thrilled I am by the news that MOE is looking at reducing the weightage of Chinese at the PSLE. It's like someone took a look at my wishlist and decided to grant it.

As expected, there are contrasting reactions to this announcement, and on such a controversial topic, you can bet there are heated arguments flying in all quarters. Afterall, we talking about something which up to this point, has been a sacred cow in Singapore education - the bilingualism policy.

To me, this move is long overdue. I've already detailed in my previous post why I think it needs to be done. In this post, I want to elaborate on this, specifically in response to arguments made by those in the opposing camp.

1. If we drop the weightage in Chinese, we're sending the message that Chinese is not important.

We're confusing the issues of exams and learning. Unfortunately, in exam-intense Singapore, many parents and kids have become so skewed in our focus on exams that we judge the value of a subject by how much it will count in the exam. This is a mindset problem, not one of policy. If you are one of these tunnel-vision people, then so be it, but national policy shouldn't be dictated by such myopia.

However, I have enough faith in people to believe that there will be parents who will still recognise the importance of Chinese (not difficult, given China's position) and together with schools, help children learn Chinese well, without the burden of acing Chinese exams. Pragmatists who are all for learning Chinese so that they can work in China will be the first to tell you that you don't need exams to indicate what's important.

2. Kids won't bother to study Chinese anymore, hence causing standards to drop and loss of our cultural roots.

Riiiiight... as opposed to our wonderful Chinese standards now? Compared to the mainland Chinese, our Chinese is pathetic. My kids' Chinese tutor from China once said to Lesley-Anne (in Mandarin), "No need to say that your Chinese is not fantastic. Everyone knows that the Chinese of Singaporeans is not fantastic." She wasn't being condescending, she was just stating a fact.

Raising Chinese standards has nothing to do with assessment. The solution is to design the Chinese curriculum so that it builds proficiency in the language, especially spoken Chinese. This, MOE has been striving to do for the past few years, by revamping the syllabus so that it's more interactive, relevant and customised towards different levels of ability.

On the flip side, I'll tell you what's the fastest way to make a child hate Chinese and renounce his roots. Make him swot for hours everyday for six years and then find out that he still does badly in an exam which determines his future school. I guarantee you Chinese will come to represent everything negative to the child, for a long time. Trust me, I've been there.

Yes, granted there will be a group of students who will take the opportunity to drop Chinese like a hot brick but I'm guessing this group has already more or less given up on the subject anyway. If you reduce the exam component, I feel there's a better chance that these kids will not hate Chinese, even *gasp* find it fun, since there's less at stake.

3. Reducing weightage is taking the easy way out, kids should just work harder at Chinese.

I'm pretty certain that people who say this are those who never had difficulty learning Chinese. It's not as simple as "if I can do it, so can you." If you are a size 2 model who can feast on a chocolate buffet and still fit into your skinny jeans, it's so easy to tell a chubby woman who can put on weight simply by looking at a doughnut ad, "Why don't you go on a diet?" (though she'll probably whack you into tomorrow's dining room with her over-sized bag).

In short, it's a predicament you won't understand unless you've experienced it. Unless you have spent days, nights and weeks slogging at Chinese idioms and characters until you want to cry, and still go into an exam not understanding the questions, you simply won't get it. It's always more convenient to glibly dismiss other people as lazy or not putting in enough effort than to admit that perhaps they were disadvantaged to begin with (because that would mean we were advantaged somehow).

I personally know of kids who have put in more time and effort into studying Chinese than all the other subjects combined and still score barely passable grades. These are otherwise bright kids who do very well in school. Both Lesley-Anne and Andre have had Chinese tuition since they were in p1, the only subject they have tuition in. If effort = results, shouldn't they both be doing better in Chinese than their other subjects by now?

I'm not saying effort counts for nothing, of course it does. A lot. But when it comes to learning languages, it's not entirely a question of effort. It's partly how the human brain processes languages - it's different from say, learning maths or science, and some kids, especially boys, are unable to do so optimally, exacerbated by a non-conducive home environment. I have friends who think Chinese can just be learned as easily as other subjects. Incidentally, they're all fluent in Chinese and grew up in Chinese-speaking families. Coincidence? I think not.

4. The move would put Chinese-speaking kids who are weak in English, at a disadvantage.

Actually, I can't argue with this one. But it's difficult to make a case for reducing the importance of English, simply because it's our official language. English is the language of business and instruction in Singapore. There is simply no good enough reason to reduce its weightage in assessment, whereas Chinese is a second language. Why should it be given equal weightage as a first language?

And my gut feel tells me English, being a Romanised language, is more straightforward to learn than Chinese. It's probably one of the reasons why you often hear of Chinese kids struggling with Chinese and Indian kids struggling with Tamil, but seldom Malay kids struggling with Malay. I know a few Malaysian Chinese who picked up Malay easily but couldn't learn Chinese. Notice it's not as if they spoke Malay at home. While I applaud the abilities and tenacity of China kids who come to Singapore with zero English and become adept at it within three years, I can't help wondering if the road would be more arduous if they had to master say, Hindi or Thai. I know it's not politically correct to say this - just verbalising what many people believe to be true.

Anyway, even if I agreed that Chinese-speaking kids might be disadvantaged by this move, it is not a valid point for keeping the status quo - you don't make policy just so that everybody can be equally disadvantaged.

I think arguments for issues like these something get confused amidst the rabble because there are too many vested interests at stake. I suspect for many opposing parties, the real reason they don't want the changes is because they're strong in Chinese and they fear that the revised policy will erode their advantage (or it's coming too late for them and they want others to suffer as they have). But wanting others to fail so that you can succeed is just kiasu-ism at its ugliest. Let's not go there.

I will be the first to confess that I'm not completely impartial either because obviously Andre stands to gain from the new revisions (if they're implemented in time). That's why I thought I should look at the opposing arguments and present what I hope are credible responses to them.

I couldn't have said it better than someone who wrote to ST Forum: "Our examination system should recognise a pupil's strengths, not penalise his weakness." There you have it, folks. At the end of the day, this issue is not about who gets to benefit more, or which faction we should support. It's about making the assessment system as fair as possible, so that there are minimal casualties.


Lilian said...

All excellent points! This is such a divisive topic though so I think the other camp will still not buy your very water-tight arguments. But I do! Wholeheartedly.

Thanks for saying out loud what many parents are thinking.

Wendy said...

Hello Monica. I have enjoyed reading your blog on your children's education as I myself have a son who is the same age as Lesley-Anne.

I agree with you 100% and was nodding my head as I read all the points that you brought up regarding the weightage of Chinese at PSLE.

Although I am now in my 40s, I myself struggled with Chinese throughout my schooling days and hated the subject tremendously. I heaved a sigh of relief when I completed my education.

Now my son, like me, has also been struggling with Chinese and I was happy to read the article in the papers and your blog about the weightage in PSLE.

It's a little too late now for my son but at least not too late for those in primary school who are struggling with this subject.

However, there is a group of parents in the Kiasuparents forum who are vehemently against this. I suppose this is a group of parents who have not experienced the blood, sweat and tears that our children (myself too) have gone through just to get decent marks.

Andre may be fortunately enough to gain from the change.

Cheers :-)

Puzzled by Puzzles! said...

Thks for sharing the articles here and your thoughts on the issue. I agree with EVERYTHING u have written. The irony of those who are against the change can be seen from one of the mother's reply in the article. She was "told that Chinese IS important. That was why she speaks the language at home and hire a tutor." Does it mean we need someone to tell us how important a language is to us (or our culture) then we would do sonmething abt it?? If a parent thinks that Chinese IS important because of our roots/ history/ culture, then it doesn't matter whether the subject is examinable. The parent has to make sure the kid knows chinese because it IS an important part of the family and their lives.

monlim said...

Thanks Lilian!

Wendy: I totally empathise with you and sorry it's coming too late for your son. I'm not surprised to hear about the brouhaha at kiasuparents. Sometimes people get into a frenzy so it becomes a case of "who shouts the loudest will get heard". And if you have a group of people shouting very strong views, you can bet those who don't agree won't dare to speak up, in case they kena hantam :P Hope MOE stays firm to their convictions.

monlim said...

S: Singaporeans have been too used to taking instructions! Like you say, we even need someone (or exams) to tell us what is impt. L-A is taking HCL now precisely because I acknowledge Chinese is important and at sec school, the exam component is not so critical. I don't need her to do very well in it but I'm hoping it will help cultivate the love for the language. Imagine if the exam for HCL will make or break your overall score - would I still let her take it? No way!

I find it quite sad that nowadays, people define the word "fair" as to only whether it's fair for them personally. That ironically, is the opposite of what the word means.

Anonymous said...

I also was struggled with math since young and had experienced the blood, sweat and tears just to get decent marks.Can the ladies here help to request MOE to lower the standard also and it will help other fellow students with similar problem.

monlim said...

Anon: You're taking the argument out of context for your own personal gain. With maths, more practice will definitely improve your scores. No evidence to suggest otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Mon, to be fair, there are people with aptitude for learning Math too. All kinds of learning need aptitude and attitude. My child is struggling with Chinese now but I still see the need to hard drive her to learn the language in school with equal importance and she will probably be thankful when she grows up. Precisely I don't care about exam results and not kiasu enough, I am willing for her to undergo the hardship to make her mark.


monlim said...

QX: Yes, I agree there are differing aptitudes for subjects, just like L-A is not strong in maths. But those are individual differences, like how some people just do better in school compared to others, vs language processing which is neurological.

Actually, I'm not convinced the poster is who he/she claims to be, hence my curt response. Maybe I'll stop posting anonymous comments (not yours of course, the truly anon ones!)

Great to hear that you're persevering with Chinese for your dd and are willing to downplay exam results. Not many parents can say that.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I am new here..

Allow me to share my 2 cents' worth..

perhaps we should remove PSLE altogether.. After all, we shouldn't be studying just to pass exam..

I certainly empathise with your daughter cos my children are struggling too..(both my kids are also in GEP programme)

The facts remain, would you ask for lower weightage for other subjects which your kids are strong in??? It's sad that teachers and students only aim to excel in exams, according to standards and guidelines set by MOE..
Further lowering of chinese standards will lead to chinese language disappearing from us Chinese.. I am afraid..soon, we will be a group of chinese (with yellow skin) who are going to be laughed at by both Chinese and Westerners alike.. (we know the reasons)

I will persevere, however hard it is, but it will be more encourageing if both school teachers and MOE support it..

monlim said...

Anon: Welcome! I honestly don't think lowering the weightage will lead to lowering of Chinese standards. Too many people are just jumping on that conclusion as if it's foregone. As I pointed out, these are 2 different things and China is a strong enough force to incentivise pple to treat Chinese with importance, exams or not.

As for asking for lower weightage for subjects that my kids are strong in, many other parents who have followed by blog over the past 2 years will testify to how I've agonised over my daughter's maths (I was surprised she managed an A*) and my son's English. But I have not (and will never) ask for lower weightage in these subjects because I think there is no logical reason to do so.

So in essence, if you're asking whether I'm supporting this issue simply because it benefits me, I'd say no. It's because there are valid points that justify it.

Anonymous said...

Take it easy, Mon! Didn't you say something like 'Learning/Education is a marathon, not a sprint.' ? I personally don't see the need to lower the weightage of Chinese although many people find it difficult to master. I don't mind if the weightage is being lowered. Aferall, to be able to survive in this world, we should be prepared for any changes and be very adaptable. My children are in a SAP school and to be honest, many parents I spoke to on this matter don't mind if there is a slight drop in the Chinese weightage, because it will take away some stress off the parents and students. It is not easy to get an A* for Chinese and even our children (and their school) are spending excessive amount of time on Chinese alone.

I used to be atrocious in English. I hardly speak in English for the first 21 years of my life but still, didn't I graduate from NUS? I always get a B for English no matter how hard I tried. One of my best friends did not make it to JCs because she flunked her EL1 at 'O' levels even though she did reasonably well for the other subjects. A JC classmate was more lucky and managed to scrape through 'O' levels' EL1 with a C6. Today, this smart cookie is married to his wife, an English graduate and holding a success banking career with a foreign bank and sometimes earning annual bonus of 4 years (yes, in years, not months). When I started working, I had to communicate in English, but still not confident. It was only after I got to know some other mummies who are very strong in their command of English that I realised how to appreciate it more, and how to bring my own standard to a more acceptable level. The greatest advantage of having children of my own now is that I can live a second childhood - learning from and reading as many books (both in English as well as Chinese)as possible to enrich my life.

By the way, do you know what is the occupation of the parents of the best friend I mentioned? Vegetable Grower. The smart guy's? Coffeeshop Owner. If we allow the Chinese weightage to be lower, the offsprings of the hawkers, car mechanics, hairdressers and the like will be the casualties and have even more bleak future. There are just so many things against them.


monlim said...

SC: Why, I sound v uptight ah? Haha! It's inspiring to read about your experience and your friends'. This is the first time I'm getting a better glimpse into your life, thanks for sharing!

I agree that those from Chinese-speaking families shouldn't be penalised either by this move. I think that can be solved by rewarding those who do well in Chinese, maybe via HCL? The challenge is to maintain some balance where those who are good in Chinese are rewarded but not at the expense of those who can't cope well with it.

I still stand by my belief that education is a marathon, not a sprint. That's why we shouldn't be so quick to cut off the finish line prematurely at PSLE. That's just the first phase of education.

Anonymous said...

MOE should now also give special consideration those who excel in Maths, Science and MT except English.

Same consideration for those who excel in the languages but do badly for Science and Maths and those who excel in Maths and Science but do badly for the languages.

In the first place must the best really go to RI, RGS, NYG and CHI?

Anonymous said...


Yes, those from Chinese-speaking families AND struggling with borderline English should't be penalised. However, I think this move will hit them directly. HCL has no way to save them, because it is offered only to those very strong in Chinese AND still do reasonably well in other subjects, including English. If they are already so poor in English, no school in its right mind will encourage them to take HCL to get at most that miserable 3 extra points.

Sorry, this doesn't really concern me. However, I feel the need to 'lend a voice' to those helpless chaps.


monlim said...

Anon: I don't agree that there shd be less weightage on the other 3 subjects as I feel they're critical to education. English because it's the official language, Maths and Science because they're basic building blocks of education. A 2nd language is totally different. If it's optional to count Chinese at O levels, I don't see why it has to stand equal weightage at PSLE.

But I agree with you there's no compulsion for the best students to go to these schools but try convincing parents of that!

SC: Based on the current system, yes it will affect those poor in English and only strong in Chinese. So if the govt goes ahead with this move, they will need to also tweak the points system for those strong in Chinese, to reward them more. Whether this is in the form of HCL, I'm not sure. Although HCL is not only offered to top students, from what I know. It depends on the kid's Chinese results. If you're in a SAP school to begin with, I think most of the kids take HCL unless they really can't cope with it.

Anonymous said...

I am sitting for my PSLE exam next year and although my CL is not as good as my China friends, I feel that there is no need to lower the weightage of CL in PSLE.
I feel that we should all play on fair ground. If I can't get into the top school like RGS or Nanyang, it means that I am just not good enough. Besides, other than academic results, we can also get into the school via DSA.
This concerns me as I feel that it might be unfair to some.


Patricia said...

Hi Monica,

I find myself agreeing to most, if not all, of the things you say except when it comes to Chinese, or the learning of Chinese.

I am one of those who have breezed through Chinese, and struggled with English all my life. I've never found English to be easy, even as an adult. It's a more rigid language than Chinese, and there are always exceptions to the rules.

Chinese-learning is very similar to the learning of English, just that it's easier to pick up, I always believe. You just need to read alot. And Chinese is so much more fluid than English.

I'd decided that English is such a difficult language to master, compared to Chinese, that I deliberately alienated my kid from Chinese since young, so that she could grasp English more easily, and be more 'natural' in the language.

It's not surprising that she struggles with Chinese now, and to be honest, I do feel a sense of relief on reading about lowering the weightage in Chinese, but like what SC says, it's not fair to pupils who love and have excelled in Chinese and not other English-medium subjects. And I'm really glad this wasn't implemented during my time.

monlim said...

Patricia: You don't know how much I envy you that you find Chinese easy to master! My situation was completely the opposite. I grew up in a dialect speaking family, English was foreign to me until k2 and my dad decided we should speak English at home so I wouldn't be intimidated by it. Ironically, I ended up acing English and flunking Chinese!

SL: You sound like a very mature kid and I applaud you for being pragmatic over your strengths and voicing your beliefs.

Once again, I totally agree that we shouldn't have a system where either Chinese or English speaking kids are penalised. I believe with adjustments, it can be done so that mastery in either will be rewarded. My only problem with the pro-status quo camp is that they want to keep their advantage while penalising the English speaking kids (by not acknowledging there's a problem to begin with). That's just mean-spirited.

The motivation behind the move should be to remove stumbling blocks and not who gets to benefit more.

YY said...

As a democracy, Singapore should lean towards the wishes of the majority as long as it is not a serious threat to 'national interests'. As time goes on, this move is foreseeable as the percentage of English-speaking families grow.

As a 'paternalistic democracy' the impending move was heralded by MM himself admitting his 'mistake' in MT policy years ago. That was like testing the waters. I kinda get the feeling the ministries are actually happy that people subsequently spoke up strongly, and also specifically about reducing MT weightage in PSLE, thus giving them 'democratic mandate' to go on with the move. I think this reduction of MT weightage in PSLE is probably the most 'concrete' move so far made in adjustment of MT education policies.


monlim said...

YY: That's very astute of you, I didn't think that the announcement before was like testing the waters. I'm not sure about just catering to the majority, even though it's clear that the proportion of English-speaking families has burgeoned drastically.

Contrary to what the pro-status quo camp think, the interest in Chinese among the English-speaking group is growing, not diminishing. I'm seeing more of these families wanting to send their kids to SAP schools because they recognise the importance of a Chinese culture. Ironically, it's the PRCs who are sending their kids to RI/RGS because they don't need the Chinese environment! That's why I'm not convinced reducing the weightage will reduce standards. The resurgent interest in all things Chinese can drive standards up, exam or not.

Elan said...

Actually there is another way to be "fair" and I think it used to exist when I was taking my PSLE almost 30 years ago.
Since China is on the rise and becoming more important to Singapore as a trading partner and we need people who are extremely proficient in Chinese to do business in China and we are trying to build up a core of "Chinese elite", lets bring back the old system of letting the child/parents choose their first language. After all Chinese is an official language (English is just the working language and ONE of the 4 official languages).
Those who are more proficient in Chinese can choose it as their first language and the English (as their second language) weightage can be reduced. For the rest who are more better in English, they can choose EL1 and CL2 (with a lower weightage).
I used to be in a SAP school and had a really miserable time spending 99% of my time studying CL1 and still doing badly (see my previous comments on Monica's blog). However, for my PSLE I was allowed to choose EL1 and CL2 and had 3 A* and 1 A (for CL2, of course).
Sometimes a step backwards may actually be a step forwards!

monlim said...

Elan: But wouldn't this lead to other problems? Since the language of instruction in Singapore is English, every other subject is taught in English. Allowing some to select English as a 2nd language would open the gates to letting their proficiency slide, potentially having them do badly in every other subject except Chinese. This would worsen in sec school where out of the 8 subjects, only 1 is in Chinese.

Also, this would also mean allowing those taking Malay, Tamil and Hindi to have these as first languages. Besides the erosion in English, I can also see potential social issues (the ones we used to see of old), the widening of differences among different language elites.

Anonymous said...

I saw her on the Straits Times newspaper as I was flipping through the papers to complete my homework!
And guess what? I used this article for my homework!
(I'm just a P6 girl and I really just happened to see this blog so you may not know me. :) )

- Angela

monlim said...

Angela: So interesting, you mean the article is relevant to your hw? LOL!

Anonymous said...

I am new here. There are things which I don't understand and I hope you or your readers can spare some times to advise.

1) Parents who feel that their kids are suffering from Mother Tongue, why not let their kids do Foundation Mother Tongue in Primary School?

2) Kids who are good in other subjects but weak in Mother Tongue can still apply to the better schools through Direct School Admission. Most DSA exams do not have written exams on Mother Tongue. IMHO, if the kid cannot make it to DSA, I don't think they are good enough to go to the elite school.

3) Some parents requested to allow students choose the best 3 subjects in their PSLE computation. Main reason is for their kids to enter the elite school. However, better school normally has Higher Mother Tongue. Won't the kids suffer even more in the better school? So are we expecting the elite school to perform miracle to transfor these group of students who cannot cope with their primary school mother tongue to perfrom well in their higher mother tongue during their 4 or 6 years there? Or are we hoping that the elite schools will start to offer CLB?

4) For 2009, passing rate for English and Chinese is 97.5% and 97.4% resepctively. Students scoring A & A* for English is 43.9 and for Chinese is 81.1 . A & A* for Malay (72%) and Tamil (78.2%)are also higher than English. The figures speak for everything. Students perform better in Mother Tongue than English. Hence, I don't understand why should we reduce the weightage of Mother Tongue and not Maths or Science or even English.

5) You mentioned that "With maths, more practice will definitely improve your scores." Sad to tell you that the passing rate for Maths is only 83.9% and A&A* is only 43.3 . Hence, I don't really agreed with your points.



monlim said...

Mike: Wow, long list! Ok, I'm no expert but here are my attempts to answer your questions.

1) Foundation MT is a relatively new concept, I think introduced only a few years ago so it wasn't available to kids who faced the problem at PSLE for many years. Also, I believe the assessment of Foundation MT at PSLE is different, ie it's even harder to get A or A* so ironically, the issue still lies with the assessment method at PSLE!

2) DSAs are notoriously hard to get in, ie the vast majority of kids in top schools get in through PSLE, not DSA. So I don't think it's accurate to say that if a kid can't make it through DSA, he/she's not good enough for the school.

3) I think the point about changing the system to allow kids to get into top schools was wrong to begin with, so I can't answer your question, sorry. I feel that the issue was that the ability of some kids was not accurately reflected because it was skewed by the low MT results, so they were not placed in appropriate streams/classes/schools. I don't agree that a kid good in EMS but weak in MT necessarily belongs in an elite school.

4 & 5) The problem I find is the non-transparency of the PSLE marking system. People have brandished these figures a lot but the problem is, I strongly believe that these grades are moderated to begin with, ie A* is not necessarily really 91 and above. I say this because my daughter couldn't do 3 problem sums in the PSLE (12 marks) and she knew she got at least a couple of MCQ wrong. Yet she got an A*! Many of her friends encountered the same scenario. So if the grades are moderated to begin with, we'll never know what was really the passing mark because SEAB can raise or lower the bar however they wish, based on their own arbitrary judgement. I'm very sure that if the passing mark was truly at 50, the maths failure rate last year would have been much higher. Unfortunately there is no way of proving this as long as SEAB doesn't reveal all the info.

So in short, we really can't tell what is the true ability of kids across subjects at PSLE. That's why I feel the O level scoring is much more transparent.

Hope I answered at least some of your questions but again, all these are only my viewpoints.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...



monlim said...

Anon: I found it rather ironic that you wrote a Chinese comment on an English blog and I had trouble trying to read it! (Don't be mistaken, I'm not making fun of you, I'm just finding light-heartedness amidst all the intensity). And this is coming from someone who scored A for Chinese at PSLE and Bs at O and AO levels! I'm a clear example that the exam scoring system doesn't work.

Anyway, I feel culture is much more than language whereas the PSLE only tests the language, so it's two separate issues. Anyway, let's just agree to disagree.

Min: Thanks, I'm aware of the news.

StaRyStaRs said...

eh, i hope i don't sound too offensive here.
anyway, i'm against the idea of reducing the weightage of chinese at the PSLE.
like many have said, it is unfair to students who are not good at subjects, particularly at English.
Why reduce the weightage of chinese when it there are people not good in other subjects?

I am a Secondary Three student, and I would say I have no burden about learning Chinese/English. I come from a chinese speaking family.
There's no such thing as which language is easier to learn. It is whether you want to learn the language or not. It depends on your attitude. If people can juggle with two languages, why can't you do it?

to be good at both languages.. i would say that you need to have the foundation since young..
parents should not focus on only 1 language (esp eng).
i have a teacher from china who told me that we should treasure this bilingual learning environment.
This is definitely a plus for singaporeans.
besides, even people from other races, other countries are learning chinese. as a chinese, wouldn't we feel ashamed for not even able to speak our native tongue?


monlim said...

Starystars: No offence taken but I've already given my views on these arguments ad nauseum so I won't repeat them here.

Unknown said...

I think we need to ask ourselves this question. Why is it that many kids from China, who before joining our education system did not speak a word of Englsih, are able to eventually ace the subject? Why is it then that our own kids despite having the environment still can't do well in Chinese, notwithstanding their claims of putting in hard work?

IMHO, I think a large part of that has got to do with the parents. The parents themselves set an example for the kids. A common sight now is that you tend to see more parents speaking to their kids/babies in English, more so over Chinese.

monlim said...

Tan: I also addressed that question of the PRCs in my post. As for parents speaking to their kids in English, that's definitely true. But the language you speak at home is a lifestyle choice, I don't think you can mandate that people speak Mandarin at home just so the kids can do well in a Chinese exam (and the exam system shouldn't penalise them for this).

Anyway, I would like to move on from this topic, fascinating as it is - I've said my all that can possibly be said, so dear readers, please note that I will not be publishing any more comments on this issue. Thanks.

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