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     FrontPage Edition: Fri 6 October 2006

Major changes in teaching of English Language in our schools



The Ministry of Education (MOE) has accepted the key recommendations of the English Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee (ELCPRC).
Set up in September 05, the Committee undertook a comprehensive review of the teaching and learning of English Language in schools, and has made a number of recommendations for improvement.
Bilingualism is and will remain a cornerstone of our education system. We need to ensure that our students have a good grounding in both their mother tongues and English. The English Language review follows from the Mother Tongue Language reviews undertaken in the last two years.
Overall, our students are competent in English, but there is significant scope for improvement in certain areas.
Singapore students do fairly well in reading literacy, but standards of oral and written communication are highly uneven. Some employers have observed a decline in oral fluency, writing skills and the ability to communicate with impact.
We aim to strengthen our students¡¯ command of English while achieving the best international standards among the most able. We will work towards the following desired outcomes:

- Our students should be comfortable using English to express themselves and enjoy learning the language.

- All should attain foundational skills, particularly in grammar, spelling and basic pronunciation. They should be able to use English comfortably in everyday situations and for functional purposes.

- A majority who have the potential should develop a good level of proficiency in both speech and writing. Some in this group who have a flair for the language will find this an advantage in frontline positions, and various service industries.

- A significant number of approximately 20% should acquire a high degree of proficiency in the English language. They will help Singapore keep its edge in a range of professions, and play an important role in teaching and the media. Their command of English should be on a par with the equivalent group in countries such as the UK, US and Australia. Further, we can expect a smaller group of Singaporeans to achieve mastery in their command of the language, no different from the best in these English-speaking countries.

Recognising the different home language backgrounds, learning needs and interests of our students, the Committee has recommended a new curriculum that is rigorous, yet flexible.
To ensure that the new curriculum is successfully delivered, the Committee has also recommended strengthening teacher recruitment, training and development, improving support for schools and developing partnerships with the community.
We have a diverse range of EL learners. There is a need to design a curriculum customized to Singapore¡¯s needs. This involves adopting not just a first or second language approach, but a principled blend of both.
A contextualized approach to EL learning will be complemented by systematic and explicit grammar instruction.
Primary EL Curriculum
Building a Strong Foundation in the Primary School Years
The EL curriculum will focus on developing oral confidence, grammar knowledge and a love for reading to anchor EL learning throughout the primary school years.
To cater to the learning needs of students without prior exposure to English, the lower primary curriculum will be strengthened.
Strategies for Effective and Engaged Development in English Language (SEED-EL), a programme being piloted in the lower primary curriculum in 30 schools this year, will be phased in in all schools by 2009.
Students who need additional help will continue to be supported by an enhanced Learning Support Programme.
The enhanced programme is designed to provide for a more focused approach to building basic language and reading skills and will be implemented in all schools in 2007.
Secondary EL Curriculum
Consolidating Language Learning with Focus on Oral Skills
Secondary students will revisit and build on foundational skills, in particular, grammar and spoken English.
To ensure there is sufficient emphasis on the teaching of spoken English in the secondary curriculum, the weighting for the assessment of oral communication at ¡®N¡¯ and ¡®O¡¯ levels will be increased from 20% to 25%.
EL at Pre-University
New English Language Subject
A new subject, English Language, to be offered at H1 and H2 levels, will be introduced at the pre-university level from 2009.
H1 and H2 EL will encompass the critical study of language and communication to deepen students¡¯ understanding, use and appreciation of the language. This will be distinct from the General Paper, Knowledge & Inquiry and Literature.
H1 and H2 EL could be offered as a contrasting subject for students majoring in the Sciences, and will be an additional option for those majoring in the Arts, who may offer it in addition to Literature.
English Language Elective Programme (ELEP)
To encourage students at the Junior College (JC) level to excel in the language, MOE will introduce the English Language Elective Programme in 1-2 JCs from 2009.
Students in the programme will study H1 or H2 EL as one of their subjects. While students in non-ELEP centres may offer H1 or H2 EL, the ELEP centres will be given additional resources to consolidate their strengths in EL1.
1 The other Elective programmes available to schools are the Art Elective Programme, Music Elective Programme, Drama Elective Programme, and Language Elective Programmes offering optional subjects such as Tamil Language, Malay Language, Chinese Language, French, German and Japanese.

Source: Press Release 5 Oct 2006

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