Bilingual policy difficult


Lee Kuan Yew admits he was wrong.  Straits Times:

‘Initially, I believed that intelligence was equated to language ability. Later, I found that they are two different attributes – IQ and a facility for languages. My daughter, a neurologist, confirmed this,’ he said in an interview carried in Petir, the People’s Action Party magazine.

Asked to pick policies he would have implemented differently, he cited the teaching of bilingualism, especially in English and Mandarin, as the most difficult policy.

‘I did not know how difficult it was for a child from an English-speaking home to learn Mandarin,’ he said.

‘If you are speaking English at home and you are taught Mandarin in Primary 1 by Chinese teachers who teach Mandarin as it was taught in the former Chinese schools, by the direct method, using only Mandarin, you will soon lose interest because you do not understand what the teacher is saying.

The Petir issue in question is not available online yet.



9 Responses to “Bilingual policy difficult”

  1. 1 antipap

    That’s a truly dumb thing to say.

    Why should not a Chinese family be speaking to their Chinese child in Chinese ?

    Only a born whitelicker would do differently.

  2. 2 Jim

    That’s even a dumber thing to say. Anti-PAP your chinese chauvinistic fever is getting into your rational thinking ability. Anybody can speak in whatever language he or she chooses to at anywhere. It does not mean that if you are a Chinese you should speak Mandarin. A Chinese can speak in Mandarin or his own or any dialect or in English or any other foreign language that he or she has proficiency in. To speak in English or any other western language does not mean that the person is a “whitelicker”.

    Your views are narrow and smack of MCP (Mandarin Chauvinist Pig).

  3. 3 Low

    What an astonishing and narrow view this guy has got. To people like him, being Chinese means you have to talk Chinese to your family members, you have to use chopsticks when you eat, you have to dress Mao Tse Tung style clothes, you have to read only Chinese literature, and you have to listen to mandolin music, etc.

    Luckily such limited scope people like him are not in our government. Its no wonder they are side-lined and passed over (that’s why he is anti-PAP). LKY is speaking from a broader front, in the context of an education system inherited from colonial days where there were 2 ‘camps’ of Chinese Singaporeans – those who had their education in English stream public schools and those who had theirs from the Chinese schools. But anti-PAP guy couldn’t understand this and lashes out at people who speak English at home to be “whitelickers”. Obviously he isn’t aware that there are many Chinese Singaporeans who speak English at home. But they are definitely not “whitelickers”. Anyway, how can you expect a Chinalicker” like him to understand all this ?

    Why on heaven is he even tuning into this English language website and posting his English comments here I wonder.

  4. 4 leewatch

    Stay on topic — no personal attacks.

  5. 5 PG

    I agree , IQ and ability in a lot of things including laguages are different attributes . This is why most of the world education systems do not really work well . The way of measuring peoples ability is not done in a good way , and a lot of intelligent and gifted people get sidelines or discouraged by the current systems .
    I was born in the UK , lived and worked in France for 30+ years , and travelled extensivly . I beleive the the best way for langauges is by living and working in the country , only the basics can be learnt in the education system.
    I have this feeling thet the current ideas on education mean that they see how much they can stuff into or give a person , and how much he can regurgitate during an exam . This has proved time and time agin not to be good , I know a lot of people with very high qualifications , but in pratcial life and being inventive and inquisitive , they are absolute zeros

  6. 6 Linda

    Hmmm, I don’t see why he feels it was wrong to implement the bilingual policy just because it has affected the Chinese. What about the Indians and Malays who have benefitted from it? What about Chinese such as myself who have benefitted? I speak Hokkien at home, but I have really have a lot of fun learning Mandarin in school.

    At the end of the day, I think it’s the people’s mentality that counts. I now know Hokkien (my MT because my mother actually bothered to teach me), Mandarin and English. I’m trilingual! 😀

  7. 7 nk

    it’s the same for children from chinese-speaking families learning english in schools, ain’t it?

  8. Linda: no it’s not bilingualism in itself. it’s the way he implemented it. ugh.

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