Language-related initiatives for youths

Published Date: 05 July 2021 10:00 PM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Shahira Abdullah, Nominated Member of Parliament

Question

To ask the Minister for Education (a) whether there will be more initiatives introduced, particularly for youths, to ensure that they do not lose their command of vernacular languages; and (b) what are the schemes and programmes to aid their command of such languages which ability will facilitate employment opportunities in the ASEAN/Asian region.

Response

1. Our education system encourages Singaporeans to learn the Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) not only to remain connected to their heritage and strengthen their Singaporean identity, but also to enable them to connect with MTL-speaking communities across Asia and the world.

2. In schools, we encourage students of different language abilities to sustain their interest to pursue MTL learning to as high a level and for as long as possible. For example, we offer the Higher MTL and MTL Elective Programmes in schools to stretch those who are capable, and make provision through Foundation MTL and MTL 'B' to support those who find MTLs more challenging to still acquire basic language skills.

3. Besides that, for those keen to learn an additional language other than their own MTL, we offer the Malay and Chinese Special Programmes, and encourage schools to conduct Conversational Chinese and Malay.

4. The MTL Learning and Promotion Committees (MTLLPCs) also sustain students' learning outside the class by leveraging community stakeholders' expertise and networks. These efforts deepen our students' engagement and interest in the MTLs, and expose them to MTL-related employment opportunities, at home and abroad.

5. At the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), students can continue to learn and develop their language skills. The increased interdisciplinarity and flexibility in IHL curricula support students to pursue their interests in languages, by taking language-related modules alongside their main course of study.

6. International exposure opportunities in IHLs, such as overseas internships, exchanges and immersion programmes, provide an opportunity for students to apply their language skills outside the classroom. These are accompanied with support in language learning. MOE's "70-70" target aims for 70% of IHL students to participate in overseas exposure programmes, with 70% of this group participating in programmes in ASEAN, China and India (ACI). Currently, institutions have pivoted to virtual exchanges and internships where feasible, to help students acquire cross-cultural exposure, and will resume these programmes once travel conditions permit. Through workplace exposure locally, students may also better appreciate the value of strong language skills in real-world contexts.

7. Beyond schools and the IHLs, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) has worked with key partners to provide a range of language training, and guide interested individuals to the relevant training programmes. For example, SSG works with partners which provide business language training programmes to support Singaporeans who wish to internationalise in the ASEAN region. We will continue to identify suitable training programmes based on market demand, to support Singaporeans in enhancing their employability and ability to seize economic opportunities in the region.

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