I have received a few e-mails about last week’s column where I suggested that Singaporeans should stop teaching English to ourselves.
One reader suggested that Americans also need to stop teaching English to themselves. The reason? “The way Americans misspell ‘color’ annoys me to no end.”
Ah yes, the evils of Americanised English – as opposed to “Americanized” English with a “z” (pronounced “zed”, not “zee”).
Being formerly part of the British Empire, we Singaporeans shouldn’t stand for such Yank deviance. Otherwise, Her Majesty may not let us join the Commonwealth Games.
But even though Americans don’t speak the Queen’s English, I’ve never heard of a Speak Good English Movement in the US.
(There is a “Speak English! This is America!” movement, but that’s a whole different can of worms.)
So the Americans can teach themselves English all they want – they don’t have Phua Chu Kang.
Other readers pointed out that native English speakers don’t necessarily make better English teachers because of their accents.
Of course, I didn’t mean we should pick just any native English speaker off the street.
But I believe a qualified, trained English teacher who’s a native English speaker (hopefully, with not too strong an accent) would be more effective in correcting our English than one who’s Singaporean.
Then someone else pointed out that there are Singaporeans who can speak English as fluently as any native English speaker.
I don’t doubt that. Too bad there aren’t enough of them to obviate the Speak Good English Movement and fill our teaching ranks.
Another reader, a local secondary school English teacher, thought that I was putting the blame “solely on the school”. I wasn’t.
He wrote: “The poor usage of language among our younger generation nowadays reflect not just the shortcomings of schools and teachers, but also the decline of family, dissolution of community and growth of diversity.”
I’m surprised he didn’t include local sitcoms on the list.
“Decline of family”? “Dissolution of community”? Perhaps bad English is the least of our problems.
I’m no language snob - I’ve written for PCK after all. The Speak Good English Movement wasn’t my idea, although PCK might have prompted it 11 years ago.
All I’m saying is that if we are really serious about improving our standard of English, then teachers play a critical role - even more so than sticky notes.
But being products of the same environment that created PCK, are our Singaporean teachers up to it?
- Published in The New Paper, 19 September 2010
Read The Features of Singapore English Pronunciation:
Implications for Teachers
TRENDING POSTS OF THE WEEK
Zoe Tay said she was “just sexy”, and that men love her and women hate her. I can’t speak for women, but as a man, I don’t exactly love...
Last month, my wife posed for pictures with a topless male model at the entrance of Abercrombie & Fitch on Orchard Road. Because he pu...
A few days ago, my former employer, MediaCorp, announced the surprise resignation of its chief executive officer, Lucas Chow. So what ...
Let me first say, I love my country. And I dislike the new National Day song, Because It’s Singapore, because it’s not Home — like any t...
It’s like 1996 all over again. Only instead of the Macarena , we’re dancing Gangnam Style . Instead of watching the White House get bl...
Remember in February when SMRT won some international award for “delivering value through risk management”? You should because I wrote a...
It started with this Cyberpioneer Facebook post: What does Military Expert (ME) 1 Clarie Teo enjoy, when she is not busy keeping ship eng...
For the first time, I limped to the start line. It was The Performance Series Race at Punggol East-Coney Island this morning. I had been...
Two years ago, when celebrity radio deejay Glenn Ong revealed that he was dating fellow MediaCorp deejay Jean Danker after splitting fro...
I first met Darryl David at Gurmit Singh's wedding dinner in 1995. David's date was a woman named Lynette Pang , who was a stag...