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MOE says Native English teachers needed!

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sundaymorningstaple
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 11:15 am

Looks like we are not the only ones who are fed up with sms'ese and singlish on "international level" forums.

http://www.jay-chou.net/forums/showthread.php?t=5982

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Postby earthfriendly » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 11:56 am

Good morning SMS, or shall I say good afternoon.


The forum link you posted was indeed interesting. I could not help laughing out loud when I saw the following post:

"For those who made occasional shortforms, and singlish, most of us are pretty okay with it, but if you try to do that too often..... you better beware then.... because there are many members (me included) who really have time on our hands and like to track down newbies who persistently break the rules. We are not moderator or admin, just normal members.... but we do know how deal with such hardcore rule-breakers......[evil smilie that I was unable to copy over]"

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Postby Plavt » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 2:28 pm

Ecka Dimmock wrote: The British economy has so far struggled along despite the Welsh, Cockneys and Geordies.


:???:

Plavt.

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Postby Ecka Dimmock » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 6:49 pm

Plavt wrote:
Ecka Dimmock wrote: The British economy has so far struggled along despite the Welsh, Cockneys and Geordies.


The point is, that most of the arguments you see against Singlish here are economic: that no-one will trade with them if they don't speak "standard English", whatever that is. I was merely observing that other English-speaking countries manage to maintain local dialects without economic ruin. Indeed, some countries now actively try to retain linguistic diversity.

When I was at school (in Scotland, then Australia, then New Zealand) it was Americanisms creeping into young peoples' speech that concerned our elders. In my parents' day, when they were at school in Scotland, London English was held up as the only acceptable form of the language. They needn't have worried, most of us learned the difference between formal and informal usage.

I can understand the MOE wanting to beef up English teaching, and they should, but the jihad against Singlish seems to be a red herring.

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Postby Plavt » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 7:34 pm

Ecka,
I see what you mean but I feel the advantage if that is what it is, is we are a bigger country with rather more regional dialects than you list although I am sure you remember many(mine is west country and good for a joke among many).

My point is that many foreigners won't be aware of this although those involved in international trade will speak good English irrespective of their local accent. Just why singlish should be singled out for the apparent criticism I am not sure. Perhaps there is something of a snob value of being able to speak good English concerning business in Asia. Alternatively it may be too confusing as I believe it has produced a number of words Singaporeans alone understand at least to a large extent.

Plavt.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 13 Jun 2006 8:50 pm

Therein lies the problem. Or at least part of it anyway. When you look to the British, there is the Queen's english. Sure you have a number of regional dialects but at the end of the day, they generally use acceptable grammar (sentence structure). Also, in those countries like British and Americans we all basically can speak normal english (well, not all anymore - but the US is trying to stem the influx of non-english speaking immigrants as we speak).

Here in Singapore the native language is NOT english, so instead of a population that can speak good english and an english dialect, you have only the english-educated middle class who can speak reasonably decent english and singlish. Which to me is not a dialect as most speak it whether educated or not. It's is only the educated however that have the ability to switch to something resembling proper english. They actually are the ones who want to make singlish a language so as to convince other how singaporean they are. The heartlanders/chinese educated and lower class cannot speak anything but as well as their own dialects and/or mandarin. I found this today that makes for an interesting read. I cannot say I agree or disagree with it fully but accept that parts of it are relevant.

From the Todayonline.combeng is cool, singlish a signal

I was going to cut and paste but decided against it.

I really do not have that much against singlish other than the fact that it is virtually impossible to understand all the nuances unless you happen to speak the chinese dialects and malay as well as english that go into it's makeup. That and the problem of being intelligible in the international business world and most now cannot switch that easily unless they are currently not in singapore where it is all around them.

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Postby k1w1 » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 10:48 am

I agree that the problem is not so much that local kids have an accent or use different words in different ways - I myself have a totally different accent and word usage than Americans, Brits and Aussies.

The problem really, is that kids (and parents!) are not able to reciprocate when "standard" English is used. Most of my students understand everything I say (sometimes, I still get asked why I say "I beg your pardon" when I didn't hear someone... sigh), but they are rarely able to speak in correct sentences or with the correct words. It is not snobbery or wanting anyone to speak like the queen, as I already pointed out, most "native speakers" don't do that anyway. If it were an accent problem, they would be in the same league as kiwi's and would just get laughed at for their "strange ways" - end of story.

I have assumed sooooo many times that some of my students speak another language at home, as the reason their English is so bad. I speak with their parents and quickly confirm this in my head, as mum and dad are having difficulty speaking (so that I can understand them) too. I ask them: what language does your family speak at home? and have been shocked again and again, to be told they only speak English.

The problem is that I teach English language. I have heard pretty much every appalling accent, grammar mistake and pronunciation issue ever made. It is my JOB to understand what people are saying, and to help them correct it when they are in my class. And frankly, it is really hard work understanding a lot of people here. And as I said, I work with this and am well used to it - imagine the majority of people who are not.

The problems with English in Singapore go a lot, lot deeper than a few language lessons, because unlike other ESL students, these kids are not leaving class to go back to their native tongue (okay, some are - but let's face it lots are not).

It is not the mistakes that are being made, it is because the average person does not know why it's a mistake and how they should actually say/write it. THAT is the difference between an accent or a regional nuance, and a communication problem.

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Postby earthfriendly » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 12:04 pm

k1w1 wrote:
It is not the mistakes that are being made, it is because the average person does not know why it's a mistake and how they should actually say/write it.


Spot on. That's what all my posts was trying to point out but you said it best. When I first came to USA, many Americans had problem understanding me. I had to unlearn the English that was taught to me in SG and re-learn a new way of pronunciation. And I do not wish it upon another person and hence the opposition against Singlish. Most Singers never did that and continue speaking English the way they did in SG despite years spent in USA. It is very hard to change childhood speech pattern!

Even my Taiwanese friend, who had little English background could not understand some of the English words I said. She predominantly learnt her English in USA and was used to their way of enunciation and stresses, which is a universal across English-speaking countries (?). She ended up correcting my pronunciation :o . A non-English speaker teaching an Englsih speaker on the right way to speak English. Do you see the irony of it ?

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 1:20 pm

EF,

So is it Contributed or Contributed? :P

Even my wife thinks the local version 'Contributed is stupid and cringes every time she hears it on the local news.

Technology is the other one that drives me crazy as well.

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Postby earthfriendly » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 1:54 pm

Here's more. Enjoy!

Monopoly
Photography
Secondary
Mechanism
Simulator
Dictionary
Carpenter

Unfortunately, I myself don't get all of them right. It is just too damn hard trying to remember 2 ways to enunciate each word. See my point now? Why complicate one's life with another language like Singlish. Learning English is hard enough.

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Postby Wind In My Hair » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 8:52 pm

'contribute' is my achilles heel. i know the right pronunciation, but till today slip back into the wrong way unless i'm watching myself simply because most of my life i've heard it pronounced the wrong way and old habits are hard to break.

it doesn't help that contribution is the right pronunciation so naturally people assume the verb is pronounced the same way. same with economy being correct and so the adjective gets pronounced economic which is wrong. and the oh-so-grating monopoly seems natural compared to monolingual. and photograph leading to photography and i could go on ad nauseum. stupid english language! :lol:

sigh, it's an uphill battle. i personally struggled with pronunciation because unlike the written language which you can read good books to learn, the spoken language is something you hear and subconsciously absorb, and most people here have atrocious pronunciation. myself included sometimes.

ok rant over. :mrgreen:

not sure if this is related, but why is that a person who cannot speak good english is somehow perceived (especially by foreigners) to be less smart? why does singlish sound 'stupid' as opposed to merely different, in the way that other english dialects are just different? why is there a higher expectation of singlish?

just thinking out loud here, not targetting my questions at anyone or anything in particular.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 9:53 pm

Wind In My Hair wrote:not sure if this is related, but why is that a person who cannot speak good english is somehow perceived (especially by foreigners) to be less smart? why does singlish sound 'stupid' as opposed to merely different, in the way that other english dialects are just different? why is there a higher expectation of singlish?


That, my dear, is the basis for my whole bias against singlish. Standard English (be it british, american, aussie or kiwi) has a proper sentence structure so, regardless of the slang that may be used or the different context meaning, it is still comprehensible to the listener if they can speak standard english. singlish has no structure to speak of so it sounds like a person is uneducated or of low IQ. While they may not actually be dull, they would have to be preceived that way when the only basis is their spoken language. And if they wrote it like they write in the beauty and airline threads it would tend to confirm the absence of IQ as well. :oops:

I have to correct myself just a wee bit. There are rules, of a sort, to the using of the tag at the end of a string of words (I will NOT use sentence to describe it) e.g., Lah, Leh, Lor, Meh. But that seems to be about it. Am I right leh? Yah Lor!

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Postby Wind In My Hair » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 10:15 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:I have to correct myself just a wee bit. There are rules, of a sort, to the using of the tag at the end of a string of words (I will NOT use sentence to describe it) e.g., Lah, Leh, Lor, Meh. But that seems to be about it. Am I right leh? Yah Lor!

see, that's not singlish. there are more unwritten rules than many realise. which is why i think singlish is more like another language altogether. this is how you might say it in singlish: correct not? yes right?

also, there's no hard and fast and maybe EF can comment, but 'leh' is generally not used at the end of a question, but more so as a plea eg "don't be like that leh...". your question in 'proper' singlish would be "am i right ah?"

anyway, i find singlish useful because it identifies another singaporean from the first few words, and it's actually a more economical way of speaking, much like chinese and malay. but it should be treated as a different language and not called english, as it is in schools. and if someone finds it difficult to be effectively bilingual then i think english more important.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Wed, 14 Jun 2006 10:37 pm

Wind In My Hair wrote:anyway, i find singlish useful because it identifies another singaporean from the first few words, and it's actually a more economical way of speaking, much like chinese and malay. but it should be treated as a different language and not called english, as it is in schools. and if someone finds it difficult to be effectively bilingual then i think english more important.


Now there's something that I can get my mind around. If they wouldn't call it Singlish (meaning "Singaporean English") then it would be okay.

However, that brings me back to my original point. The teachers are sooooo bad now that they use this abberation of a language to try to teach standard english. This is what has led the government to decide to bring in "Native English Speakers" to teach the language as it seems that local teachers do not have enough english comprehension to be able to do it withou lapsing into "singlish". Oh well. One can only hope they get it resolved. I feel for people like k1w1 who have an uphill battle all the way. Hang in there k1w1. :wink:

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Postby dyslexic_alien » Fri, 16 Jun 2006 4:11 pm

knock knock... hallo??

Who says Singlish has no grammatical rules and hence should not be considered a language. Check this out ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singlish

Lah... is indeed disatrous when used wrongly by wrong people. and btw, adding a random lah (and for the more advanced, meh,hor and huh) does not make a phrase Singlish.

Good luck mastering Singlish.


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