Critical Review of Tamil Syllabus

Project Number: 
CRP 36/03 SL
Completed Date: 
1 September 2005

Critical Review of Syllabus in Tamil and Suggestions for a Curriculum of the Future

Research on Tamil language use in Singapore has shown that despite the bilingual language-in-education policy that encourages language maintenance, there has been a steady language shift on the ground towards the use of English. Parents and teachers have also expressed concern that Indian students in Singapore are not motivated to learn the Tamil language as their mother tongue.

This project examined how different varieties of spoken and written Tamil are included in the current syllabus. It also focuses on how the syllabus and curriculum can be revised given the concerns of the community regarding the longevity of the Tamil language in Singapore.

Research data revealed that while the current Tamil language syllabus was positioned as communicative, it was essentially structural in nature. It emphasised reference grammar which describes grammatical constructions in the language and focused less on pedagogical grammars which teach students how to use a language. At the same time, learning Tamil is becoming more difficult for children coming from English-speaking homes and Standard Spoken Tamil (SST) is rarely taught in class because of its many varieties.

From this data, researchers recommended a number of syllabus revisions and a curriculum of the future. This included the use of SST, especially at the lower primary level; a greater use of multimodality in new curriculum materials; the use of IT and multimedia resources; and a revision of the weighting for spoken and written Tamil in the curriculum.


Research Investigators: 
Name Department Contact
Principal Investigator Seetha LakshmiALC-
1st Co-PI Viniti Vaish--
2nd Co-PI Vanitha Saravanan--