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Interim Changes to 2006 PSLE & 'O' Level Mother Tongue Exams


2006 PSLE and 'O' Level Mother Tongue Language and Higher Mother Tongue Language Interim Examination Formats

The 2006 PSLE and ‘O’ level Chinese Language (CL) and Higher Chinese Language (HCL) examination formats will give greater emphasis to listening and speaking skills, and reduce the burden of character memorisation.
This is in line with the Chinese Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee (CLCPRC)’s recommendation in November 2004 that an interim format for these examinations be implemented in 2006.
This will serve as a ‘bridge’ to the 2010 examination format, which will be aligned to the revised curriculum.
Interim Examination Format
MOE and the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) will ensure the overall standard of the examinations remains the same with the interim changes. Students taking the examinations will not be disadvantaged by the changes. The following guiding principles were used to revise the examination formats:

a.      Minimise changes during the interim period;


b.      Increase the weighting of oral and listening comprehension by 5%;


c.      Encourage usage of   language in context;


d.      Reduce testing of vocabulary in isolated context (such as write the correct character and match the correct characters) to lessen the burden of mechanical memorisation; and


e.      Ensure that overall standard of the interim format is comparable to

         that of existing format.

Key changes to the existing CL and HCL examination formats are in Annex A.
Use of Print and Handheld Electronic Dictionaries
Currently, students may use print dictionaries approved by SEAB in the ‘O’ level CL and HCL composition examinations. From 2006, approved print dictionaries may be used in the PSLE CL and HCL composition examinations. This will further reduce the burden of memorisation and encourage practical use of the language.
MOE is working with vendors on the production of handheld electronic dictionaries. Handheld electronic dictionaries will be allowed in composition examinations in school-based assessments from 2006 and in PSLE and ‘O’ level examinations from 2007. More details on handheld electronic dictionaries will be provided when ready.
Teacher Preparation
Since January this year, briefings have been conducted for Heads of Department (HOD) and teachers on the proposed interim examination formats. Teachers welcomed the removal of vocabulary tested in isolation. Sharing sessions have been organised to prepare teachers for the changes.
Resources such as assessment guidelines and exemplars were given to all CL teachers. Teachers were advised to pitch school examinations at an appropriate standard when adopting the interim formats.
More training workshops and sharing sessions to guide teachers on question setting will be conducted from May 2005 onwards. CL Master Teachers as well as curriculum planning officers will provide further support to teachers who need assistance.
To ensure that teachers have understood the changes well, MOE will hold sharing sessions at the end of this year to help schools review their examination papers.
Interim Formats for ML and TL Examinations
Feedback gathered by the Malay Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee (MLCPRC) and Tamil Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee (TLCPRC) has indicated a similar need to move towards listening and speaking skills and the use of language in context.
Although the reviews by MLCPRC and TLCPRC are still in progress, both committees have endorsed the proposed interim changes to the PSLE and ‘O’ level examinations in 2006. Key changes to the existing formats for ML and TL are also in Annex A.
Other changes to the ML and TL examinations, as with the CL examinations, will be incorporated into the revised PSLE and ‘O’ level examinations to be implemented in 2010.
In February 2004, MOE formed the CLCPRC, to conduct a comprehensive review of the teaching and learning of CL. The Government accepted all the recommendations of the CLCPRC which were tabled as a White Paper and debated in Parliament in November 2004.
The CLCPRC received consistent feedback through focus group discussions, articles and commentaries in the local press as well as from the Singapore Chinese Teachers Union (SCTU), that even the most well-meaning teachers place undue emphasis on repetitive drills and writing exercises because of the current approach to CL testing.
The CLCPRC recommended moving examinations away from an approach where random, individual words and phrases are tested.
This would reduce the burden of memorising words to do well. Instead, the examinations should move towards a more authentic approach where students’ ability to use CL in context is assessed. This is likely to improve a student’s ability to retain the language and use it effectively.

Source: Press Release 22 Apr 2005



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22 April 2005