Taskforce to study ways of improving English standard in schools

Taskforce to study ways of improving English standard in schools

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Media Type
Channel NewsAsia

Singapore: The Education Ministry will set up an English Language Task Force to study ways of improving the standard of English in schools.

Although the English language is being increasingly spoken outside of classrooms, with 60 per cent of Chinese and Indian students and 35 per cent of Malay students speaking English at home, the Education Ministry wants to raise the language standard further.

Since 2006, schools like the Princess Elizabeth Primary School have been using drama in English class, under a pilot initiative called Strategies for English Language Learning and Reading (STELLAR), which has been rolled out to all Primary schools in 2009.

"They use vocabulary words which they normally do not use when conversing with their peers in the classroom. They get to practise the language more, rather than simply doing worksheets in the classroom," said Dalvindar Kaur, Head of Department, English Language, Princess Elizabeth Primary School.

The use of story-telling and role-play has seen positive results in Primary schools, and the ministry is now keen to reproduce that at the Secondary level.

From 2010 onwards, a new English-language curriculum will be introduced at all Secondary schools.

Furthermore, a new taskforce will look into setting up an English Language Institute to develop more effective teaching methods, so that students become more confident and articulate speakers.

"To be able to communicate well will become increasingly important in their working lives, whether they work here or abroad. At the basic level, those who can communicate their ideas to market their ideas and products, or convince others, will have an edge over others," said Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Education at the ministry's annual Workplan Seminar on Thursday.

Dr Ng added that Singapore will maintain its bilingual policy because bilingualism is a valued asset in a globalised world.

New initiatives - such as a new Teacher Development Centre, and sharing teams in schools in the form of Professional Learning Communities - were also announced, in order to let teachers drive their own professional growth.

Adrian Lim, Principal, Ngee Ann Secondary School, said: "Previously we relied a lot more on external courses for our professional development.

We still do, but now we're drawing resources from within.

"And we're tapping on the expertise of more senior teachers, as they work in teams to build that expertise that teachers have when they come in fresh from the National Institute of Education."

The ministry will also create two new positions within the teaching track - the Principal Master Teacher and the Lead Teacher - who will lead the development of new teaching methods in schools.

These, along with the current Senior and Master Teachers, will be responsible for leading the development of new pedagogies across schools.

Source: Channel NewsAsia, sph