Is English or Mandarin more important?

Discussions on tuition centres/enrichment services that specialise in Chinese.
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Is English or Mandarin more important?

Post by sumo22 » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:37 pm

Hi Parents,

My K1 son already has 2 enrichment lessons per week now (music & mental arithmatic). I had planned to enroll him in I Creative Learner (for English) but now having 2nd thots as his Mandarin is actually worse than his English. I do not want to overload him with both.

Can I get some opinion if you feel English or Mandarin is more important based on the Singapore Education System as well as any other considerations?


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Post by buds » Fri Apr 24, 2009 1:52 pm

In your gauge of which subject he is doing better / worse, what scale
is this based on...? If upon 100 marks, how will he fare for both?

Singapore education for all subjects done in primary school English,
Maths and Science uses the English Language medium. So, ideally the
grasp of the English Language must be strong enough to understand
the lessons well, the varying instructions and the tricky questions..
There's also the written area to look into. Lest the child will have
problem answering questions constructively and correctly.

But if 2nd language foundation is extremely weak, then yes,
Chinese enrichment wud be in order. Cause Chinese is reading the
characters, hanyu pinyin, writing the strokes confidently (etc) which
will also require attention before attending primary school.

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Post by winth » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:38 am

Hi sumo22,

Personally, I would go all out for Chinese enrichment courses and place more importance in Chinese than English. Once the interest of Chinese is lost, it is usually lost (almost forever). In schools, English is dominant and the more popular language spoken by children. The only chance to use Chinese is only during that one (miserable) Chinese lesson.

Chinese is an up and coming language and it is important to get your children speaking right and doing well (or at least, still able to converse properly) in Chinese/Mandarin.

Comparatively, there are many more opportunities to be exposed to English (English, Math, Science are all conducted in nothing less than English).

My 2c worth.

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Post by sumo22 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:47 am

Hi all,

Since both English & Mandarin are deemed as important, I probably have to enrol my son in BOTH English & Manadarin enrichment. The abacus lesson probably have to go.


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Post by amylqf » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:22 pm

I think both language is equally important. They are life skill that can't be ignore.

Abacus in otherwise, may depend on individual ability.

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Post by foreverj » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:42 pm

frankly i feel that english is more important than chinese. y do i say that? becos in our current working environment, i see a lot of my ex-colleagues who r banking and finance professionals have no problem moving up the corporate ladder although their english frankly "cannot make it". while personally i am only so-so in chinese but having come from a higher chinese background, my chinese is naturally superior compared to these people. although there is a certain advantage in having strong mandarin, as in got chance to go china for business trips etc, i dun see those with better mandarin promoted faster or are perceived as "better performers" just becos they know mandarin. at end of day, things like real competancy in work is much more my conclusion is english is still more important.

having said the above, knowing our future generation are so much smarter, i won't be surprised there wil be a larger proportion of people who can juggle both languages (or even more) with ease. plus in spore, if the standard of chinese cannot make it, then u better pray u have the money to send him/her overseas for uni education. hence we wouldn't be comfortable throwing our kids into schools and exams without a solid chinese foundation. so if u sense that your child's chinese is not even going to make it thru psle with "A", need to put in more effort like going for chinese enrichment and speak more mandarin at home.

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Post by tamarind » Sun Jul 19, 2009 6:17 am

In our generation, English is still much more important than Chinese. My sister-in-law is very bad in Chinese, she could not speak mandarin, and she claimed that she could not understand anything if others tried to speak mandarin to her (she did not pass A levels, but went to Australia to get her degree) But she still could earn much higher salary than me (I scored As for Chinese all the way from primary school to JC).

In the next 20 years, China is definitely going to be very powerful. But in Singapore, I believe that English will still be the major language to be used in education, law, medical fields, business, research and development, etc. I don't think all that will change. If we want our kids to become doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, or to do business with the rest of the word, English is still most important.

Since we are all ethnic Chinese, we should learn Chinese not because it has any economic importance or not. We should cultivate a love of the Chinese language in our kids, simply because we are ethnic Chinese. Our grandfathers, or great grandfathers were from China. We still celebrate Chinese festivals and retain Chinese traditions.

Many years ago, when I was a young student, and China was still very poor and backward, Chinese is still the language that I love most.

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Post by cmm » Sun Jul 19, 2009 10:39 am

tamarind wrote: Since we are all ethnic Chinese, we should learn Chinese not because it has any economic importance or not. We should cultivate a love of the Chinese language in our kids, simply because we are ethnic Chinese. Our grandfathers, or great grandfathers were from China. We still celebrate Chinese festivals and retain Chinese traditions.
Well said, tamarind!

Just curious, how many of you parents out there have children who can converse in dialect? I feel that the younger generation are mostly English speaking only, bilingual at best.

Personally, I find it a pity that kids don't get exposed to dialects much these days. Dialect forms part of our identity & culture.

I request my parents to converse with my kids in Cantonese, as I have no other regular avenue to expose them to the dialect. My hubby tries to teach them simple Hokkien (his dialect) occasionally. My eldest (now P1) had been speaking fluent Cantonese since ard 3yrs old, in addition to English and Mandarin.

Yong HL
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Post by Yong HL » Sun Jul 19, 2009 5:06 pm

my daughter currently in k1 can speak simple teochew, fluent mandarin and singlish. she speaks teochew cos she was taken care of by my inlaws during weekdays and my inlaws can only speak teochew and mandarin. Speaking and writing in chinese are really totally different. I used to think that her chinese is good just because she can converse but later realised that its not true. I was told by my neighbour (who is primary school teacher) that P1 students somehow are expected to recognise high-frequent words. And also, they must also be able to read english to solve problem sums and general comprehension in p1 too. So i tink, both english and chinese are equally important in primary and secondary schools as they form the basis of comprehension and problem solvings in tests and exams especially for PSLE and O levels. And also, i read somewhere that young children especially b4 p1 absorb language better too.... :)

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Post by KingRascal » Sun Jul 19, 2009 7:29 pm

I agree with Tamarind on the need for Chinese as a form of cultural and tradition retention. On top of that, as my personal opinion, I strongly feel that it's going to be a great economical tool.

I have always feel that it's harder to learn Chinese than English. For English, phonetic technique has enable one to pick up the language systematically.

However when it comes to Chinese, we cannot read based on the strokes! It's all purely word recognition.

I once read this article in Straits' Time, written by a businessman working in China. His office resided in an area that is similar to our Raffles Place. He commented that the China government plays English songs, even jingles or nursery rhymes(!!), over the PA system regularly. It aims to expose their citizens to the language through non-structured ways, thus increasing their awareness and ability of picking up the language. They acknowledge the importance of English. I believe in a few decades down the road, they would master both language well.

On the contrary, Singapore has always been praised by foreigners for our proficiency in English, enabling good communication in their businesses and investments.

We all know that China is going to be a very big player in the economy. With their mastery of both the English and Chinese languages (which I believe would be), they would definitely stand out. Singapore's proficiency of only English would not be sufficient anymore....And who are the ones who would be fronting this fierce competition?

Our children...

So it's our role to enable to them to be equipped with the relevant survival both languages should be given equal priority...

Just my 2cents worth of thoughts... 8)

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