Media Literacy in the Teaching of English in Singapore

Project Number
OER 50/12 CW

Project Duration
May 2013 - March 2017


The purpose of this project is to explore how media literacy education can be integrated into the teaching of English in Singapore secondary schools. Media education has been an integral part of the formal curriculum in countries such as the UK, the USA and Australia where it has been taught as a separate subject or integrated into the teaching of Language Arts. Media literacy as a pedagogical framework typically encompasses the development of critical reading and writing as students learn to become ethical members of a participatory culture facilitated by media. As many scholars have argued, media literacy in the 21st century must be seen as a vital component of citizenship. In Singapore, despite significant efforts to develop media education at the post-secondary level, media literacy education has been less systematic at the primary and secondary school levels. Media studies as a subject was only in the last three years piloted in three secondary schools and media education is barely infused in other subject areas such as literature and the humanities. The English Language Syllabus of 2010 places greater stress on critical consumption and production of multimodal texts and introduces viewing and representing in addition to speaking, listening, reading and writing. However, despite the acknowledgement of the importance of media literacy in the new syllabus, no detailed framework has been developed to guide teachers in the classroom. The significance and timeliness of fostering media literacy in Singapore was further recognized by the recent forming of the Media Literacy Council whose aim is to lead public education on media literacy. Given this policy and educational climate, a project that aims to foster media literacy in schools through the teaching of English language is momentous. The proposed project aims to first survey current pedagogical practice in Singapore secondary schools in relation to how media literacy is implemented and infused in English lessons, since such implementation is thought to be sporadic and dependent on the interest and initiative of individual teachers. Following this survey, we will examine, in an in-depth manner, the teaching of media literacy in two select secondary schools in Singapore. The third objective of the project is to develop a media literacy unit that considers current pedagogic practice, English Languauge curriculum goals, as well as student/teacher experience with media. The unit will be trialled in select classes in the two schools from phase two. The unit focuses on the development of students’ critical, ethical and aesthetic sensibilities in relation to consuming and creating media texts. The significance of the project is threefold. First, while past research in Singapore has addressed new media literacy, the focus seems to have been exclusively on students and media literacy outside of schools. The proposed project examines schools and specifically, the subject of English, as potential sites for fostering media literacy. As such, its emphasis is on pedagogical practice, with the aim of developing ways in which media literacy can be incorporated into the teaching of English. Second, unlike other initiatives that have involved the development of new programs and syllabi and thus have entailed substantial resources, the current project’s significance lies in relying on the aims and goals of the existing English language syllabus in order to develop a pedagogical framework to foster media literacy in schools. As a result, the outcome of the project has quite serious potential for scalability to other secondary schools in Singapore. Third, through its design and methodology, the project aims to take a contextual approach to media literacy education and considers various factors which will shape the particular details of the framework and therefore assure its relevance to both participants and the broader context of Singapore.

Research Themes
English Language & Mother Tongue Languages

Funding Source

Related Links
SingTeach Issue 51 (2014): Learning Ethics with Social Media
ReEd Vol 11 (2013): Are You Media Literate?

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