Speech by Senior Minister of State for Education, Mr Chee Hong Tat at the Symposium for Pre-School Tamil Language Teachers at Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre, Auditorium

Published Date: 04 May 2019 12:00 AM

News Speeches

Mr Vikram Nair, MP for Sembawang GRC,

Chairman TLLPC TLLPC Deputy Chairman and Committee Members

Mdm Heng Boey Hong, Director Mother Tongue Languages Branch, MOE

Distinguished Guests Teachers Ladies and Gentlemen

1. Vanakkam. A very good morning to all of you. It is my pleasure to join you at the Symposium for Pre-school Tamil Language Teachers 2019.

2. This Symposium was first organised by the Tamil Language Learning and Promotion Committee (TLLPC) in 2017. It continues to bring together and enrich the learning of Pre-school Tamil Language teachers, to spark our children’s interest in learning their Mother Tongue. Let me touch on two key areas from today’s symposium.

(1) Celebrating Childhood
(2) Shaping our Tomorrow

“Celebrating our Childhood”

3. The theme for this year’s symposium is ‘Celebrating Childhood’ – Kannae Kaniyamuthey. Childhood is indeed a celebration of wonder, play and imagination. As educators and parents, we nurture our children, and help them develop their hearts and minds. The early years are critical. As Minister Desmond Lee said, “the early years are indeed a golden opportunity to plant the seeds of love for the mother tongue and to lay a strong foundation for bilingual learning.”

4. Research shows that children who began to learn a language from an early age through daily routines and life experiences are better able to achieve stronger proficiency later in life. As educators and parents, we play a key role in providing meaningful and fun learning experiences for our children.

5. Ms Darseni Rengasamy, a lecturer from NIEC and our keynote speaker, will be sharing with you on the disposition of a second language learner and the importance of school-home support in the learning of our Mother tongue. This includes children who come from predominantly English-speaking homes. I am sure her insights will provide us with many good ideas on how we can spark our children’s interest in learning the Tamil Language.

6. It is key to create a positive and engaging environment, both in school and at home. Young children love to sing and dance. Our Principal Master Teacher, Dr Jeyarajadas will be later sharing on ‘Joy in the classroom through music and movement’.

7. You will also be hearing interesting tips and useful strategies from our home-grown international story teller Mdm Rani Kanna, pre-school principal and an author from India, Mr Vetricheliyan, as well as our pre-school educators. I thank all our speakers for their sharing.

“Shape our Tomorrow”

8. ‘Kattra-thu kai manna-lavu, kalla-thathu ulaga-lavu’ is a famous Tamil proverb which means - learning is lifelong. It does not end after we leave school. We must keep learning and improving ourselves, picking up new skills and opening our minds to new perspectives. This is the best solution to remain professionally relevant and to keep up with changing technologies and societal trends. Lifelong learning is also a wonderful way to grow and develop as individuals, while staying connected with our friends.

9. In October 2018, a three-year national campaign called - “Shape our tomorrow” was launched at the Early Childhood Conference 2018 by Minister for Social and Family Development, Mr Desmond Lee. This campaign features the important work of early educators and highlights their invaluable role in building strong foundations for life and, in turn shaping the future of our nation. It will help to raise the profile of our early childhood sector and attract more Singaporeans to join us as early childhood professionals.

10. It was announced at the conference that a new certification course in MTL teaching will be launched this year to enhance preschool teachers’ spoken language skills and knowledge about related culture and heritage. I encourage all our pre-school educators to consider attending this course, as part of your professional development and lifelong learning.

11. To further support our early childhood practitioners, ECDA is working with MOE to develop language resources tailored to a Singapore context in all three Mother Tongue languages. By working together through government organisations, promotion committees like TLLPC, schools and other community organisations, I am confident we can provide good support for our pre-school educators to make a positive difference to our children in the learning of MTL.

12. I am heartened to know that for the first time, parents have been invited to join this symposium. Learning our Mother Tongue well requires a collaboration between family, school and the community. The role of parents is very crucial in encouraging and supporting our children in the learning of their Mother Tongue languages. As parents we have to see the acquiring of the language beyond examination and grades, and continue to motivate our children to use the language in daily life.

13. As MTL pre-school educators, you have a key role in shaping our children, who are our tomorrow, to understand their identity as Singaporeans, their culture and heritage, and importantly, to nurture in them a joy of learning and a lifelong interest in MTL. I thank you all for your invaluable contributions to society as pre-school educators and Tamil Language educators, passing on the torch of knowledge and wisdom to our future generations.

14. I also wish to thank the Secretariat of TLLPC for their hard work in organising this annual symposium for our Pre-school educators.

15. I wish all of you a fruitful and fulfilling symposium ahead.

16. Nandri. Vanakkam.

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