Singapore Expats Forum

MOE says Native English teachers needed!

A moderated forum for serious discussions only.
User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 3:08 pm

An excerpt from Bill Bryson's book The Mother Tongue.

To the detractors of Singlish - Dear Sir/Mdm, please take into consideration that Singlish not only combines words from the various languages but also their syntax. As such, any arguments about grammar (or lack thereof) gets thrown out the window. It is perfectly fine to espouse the use of and ability to speak proper English for the sake of facilitating communications with the rest of the world but then again, look what happened to Esperanto.


To the proponents of Singlish - relak lah, jangan tension, maintain balance!
some signatures are more equal than others

Canes
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 10
Joined: Fri, 16 Jun 2006
Location: Singapore

Postby Canes » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 9:35 pm

THAT is my point! You're talking about people who cannot switch?? I am that 'people' who you assume cannot do that because YOU cannot do that. OF COURSE i take offense! i went to neighbourhood schools all my life, i didn't even go to JC, went to Pre-U, my father is a taxi driver, my mother is a housewife and i had singapore teachers my whole life... two of my classmates in my secondary school class now have Phds! So you talk what cock??!! Huh? You know nothing about me but you are so quick to JUDGE me by the way I write. Maybe this is YOUR problem.

sundaymorningstaple,
Stop wasting my time! YOU should go reread my posts! This is the third time you've 'corrected' me on something i never said or implied! I studied linguistics during undergrad, what are your qualifications may I ask since you feel so apt in 'correcting' me. From your posts I seriously doubt you have any academic training in the origin and evolution of languages but feel free to suprise me. Haven't you noticed i am not even bothering talking to you anymore? Empty veessels make the most noise and that fits YOU to a 'T'.

As for the HR thing..... i CAN speak proper english, my friends can speak proper english..... we can speak when we want to speak! We are not some kampung people who are so stupid we cannot switch ok! And if you speak singlish and the person interviewing you doesn't like it.... just know that there are also people like me who don't care how you speak as long as you have the qualifications! I worked in the US and in Europe no one seemed to care, all they cared about was my qualifications.

Do you guys even realize that the only countries in the WORLD that speak english are the UK, US, half of Canada, Australia and New Zealand??? The rest of the world speaks different languages. And these countries hire people from ALL over the world! Do you think NASA is going to care that a Chinese scientist doesn't speak proper english?? Why are you guys so judgemental? If you went to a neighborhood school and cannot switch out of one language then maybe you didn't study hard enough. But please don't insult all the rest of us who were in the same boat as you and can.

This is my last post on this topic because seriously you guys make my blood boil! I have emailed a whole bunch of my singaporean friends and guess what, reading some of the crap on here makes them just as angry as me! Because they are just like me, the neighbourhood school kids you're insulting!

User avatar
Plavt
Director
Director
Posts: 4292
Joined: Wed, 18 May 2005
Location: United Kingdom

Postby Plavt » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 9:46 pm

Canes,
You seem to be taking this thread as a personal attack on yourself which it is not. Nobody is debating whether you can speak perfect English or have the ability to switch between Singlish and proper English. What is being debating is the 80% of Singaporeans who understand Singlish alone which is uniquely Singaporean.

As regards the incorrect teaching of English, this is no big surprise and no great shame on a nation since a good many teachers here in the UK who teach other languages are rarely as fluent or as informed as they would have us believe. The Singapore government is merely trying to address an issue it sees as an economic liability.


Plavt.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 35120
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 10:18 pm

Canes wrote:This is my last post on this topic because seriously you guys make my blood boil! I have emailed a whole bunch of my singaporean friends and guess what, reading some of the crap on here makes them just as angry as me! Because they are just like me, the neighbourhood school kids you're insulting!


Probably just as well.

Canes wrote:THAT is my point! You're talking about people who cannot switch?? I am that 'people' who you assume cannot do that because YOU cannot do that. OF COURSE i take offense! i went to neighbourhood schools all my life, i didn't even go to JC, went to Pre-U, my father is a taxi driver, my mother is a housewife and i had singapore teachers my whole life... two of my classmates in my secondary school class now have Phds!


Canes wrote:Please do not tell me that I am so different from all of the rest of my fellow singaporeans. I went to regular schools...no fancy schooling for me, I went to university in the US and i did just fine there thank you very much.


You don't see the irony of the two highlighted statements above?

And yet you would have us believe you are just an average 80% of the population singaporean? Crap. Eighty percent of Singaporeans have US Degrees? Crap! Go spread your incomprehensible garbage somewhere else. You cannot see the forest for the trees. While you have excellent english it is a shame your EQ is so bad. :wave:

User avatar
banana
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 961
Joined: Tue, 24 May 2005

Postby banana » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 10:31 pm

Yeah settle down tiger. It's good to be proud of your heritage and human nature to prefer an exclusive codec...makes people feel special y'know.

Don't worry your hot blood about SMS, he's just old and set in his ways. He just SOUNDS condescending because that's what old people do. What he and his SPG harem are saying is that they are concerned about a large number of Singaporeans who claim to speak perfect English can't really do it. And you know what? They are right. I've met so many folks claiming complete proficiency but when you speak to them, you can't help but wonder if you were back in primary school playing go li. And you know what else? When a fellow Singaporean tries to speak "proper" English to them, they eventually realise their command ain't that great afterall and start going all "eh why you so slang slang one, act smart isit" on yo mule.

Granted 80% might be somewhat of an inflated figure, it still stands to reason that a majority of our population have an equally inflated sense of their linguistic capabilities. Unfortunately, English is the lingua fraca of the business world so regardless of how many countries actually use it is a moot point. Then there's the problem of nuance. Humour for one.

Think of it as a cry for help on their part. They want to understand what the hell these people are talking about. No one likes to be exluded...makes people feel like something that rhymes with spit.
some signatures are more equal than others

User avatar
Wind In My Hair
Manager
Manager
Posts: 2306
Joined: Tue, 19 Jul 2005

Postby Wind In My Hair » Tue, 20 Jun 2006 11:53 pm

banana wrote:he and his SPG harem

now now, no need to get all green-eyed.

good to have you back, you weird thing. :)

fefe
Member
Member
Posts: 38
Joined: Tue, 29 Nov 2005

Postby fefe » Wed, 21 Jun 2006 12:10 am

Canes wrote:THAT is my point! You're talking about people who cannot switch?? I am that 'people' who you assume cannot do that because YOU cannot do that. OF COURSE i take offense! i went to neighbourhood schools all my life, i didn't even go to JC,
You know nothing about me but you are so quick to JUDGE me by the way I write. Maybe this is YOUR problem.

As for the HR thing..... i CAN speak proper english, .... just know that there are also people like me who don't care how you speak as long as you have the qualifications! I worked in the US and in Europe no one seemed to care, all they cared about was my qualifications.


Chill Canes! Again, I don't think the earlier posts were directed at you personally... but you took it real personally. Nothing wrong with speaking Singlish for fun among friends. Nobody is saying we ought to kill it or ban it. I think most of us are saying that Singlish shouldn't be practised at the expense of standard english.

As a bystander, I don't see anyone judging you personally.

In business, as long as you struck a good deal, nobody cares how you arrive at that, or what you do or what language you speak to seal the deal. However, you agree that speaking proper standard english will help appeal to international customers than speaking singlish. I believe when you worked in US and Europe, part of the qualification they were assessing was your command of standard english and not your ability to inject 'lah' and 'mei' in your banter with your fellow singaporeans.

User avatar
ProvenPracticalFlexible
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 208
Joined: Thu, 13 Apr 2006
Location: East Coast

Postby ProvenPracticalFlexible » Wed, 21 Jun 2006 12:29 am

fefe wrote:In business, as long as you struck a good deal, nobody cares how you arrive at that, or what you do or what language you speak to seal the deal. However, you agree that speaking proper standard english will help appeal to international customers than speaking singlish. I believe when you worked in US and Europe, part of the qualification they were assessing was your command of standard english and not your ability to inject 'lah' and 'mei' in your banter with your fellow singaporeans.


I do not disagree, but would add that still funnily enough according to my experience in Europe (UK is not considered Europe in this case); business in done in euro-English, which is when everyone speaks English as a foreign language. This means that you need to understand English words making up a sentence with using French or Polish grammar (very difficult sometimes). Sometimes also some words are in French in the middle of the sentence. In these situations it is the native speakers who cause "trouble" when using too complicated expressions, although correct and talking too fast. Usually the British, Americans for some reason seem to naturally change into language that non native speakers can understand easier.

Answers?
Regular
Regular
Posts: 61
Joined: Sat, 06 May 2006

Postby Answers? » Wed, 21 Jun 2006 12:47 am

ProvenPracticalFlexible wrote:Usually the British, Americans for some reason seem to naturally change into language that non native speakers can understand easier.


Is that called dumbing down their speech to be understood by the locals?

User avatar
k1w1
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 680
Joined: Mon, 30 May 2005

Postby k1w1 » Wed, 21 Jun 2006 2:56 pm

Answers? wrote:
ProvenPracticalFlexible wrote:Usually the British, Americans for some reason seem to naturally change into language that non native speakers can understand easier.


Is that called dumbing down their speech to be understood by the locals?


You could call it that. I do it daily, as people who "fluently speak English as a native language" on this island don't understand it when I speak at normal speed or use normal idiomatic expressions. Humour is OFTEN misunderstood, puns leave many completely dumbfounded.

Canes, I am not sure what the hell your problem is. As you pointed out, only a handful of countries speak English as a native language. Singapore claims to speak English as a national language - only they don't speak with the same grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, intonation or sentence structure as ANY other place. While every place that speaks English has its own regional nuances (even within countries, accents and word usage differs), most of the time Brits or Yanks understand Kiwi's and an Aussie gets what the Canooks and Scots are on about... We all get here though, and go: "Huh?" :o

From what I gather, the MOE is bringing in native English speakers (who are trained and experienced in teaching English language). These people are going to work in the local school system to pick up the standard of English ON THE WHOLE. I'm sure there are people who are able to "switch" between Singlish and standard English - just like I am able to change my speech when needed - but let's face it, most can't. I don't really understand why this is so damned infuriating for you.

Maori people in New Zealand have their own language (also a national language of the country) and it is compulsory for schools to teach it. Granted, it's not the exact same situation as Singapore but we are a little bit similar in this regard...There are a handful of Pakeha (white) people who speak Maori fluently, but mostly the Maori language teachers in New Zealand schools are of Maori descent, generally because non-Maori's don't speak the language properly. There is a small group of islands off to the side of NZ (The Chatham Islands) which are very remote. These people have evolved their speech somewhat because of their cultural mix and remote living situation, but they are still understood by Maori people (and their English is still understandable) when they come back to the mainland again. Can the same be said for Singaporeans' English or Chinese?

Something to note: the nicknames given to country's mangling of English are not compliments. I can think of: Japlish, Chinglish, Spanglish and Korlish off the top of my head. These words are all used to describe the way that people in that country stuff the English language up! (Like Japanese people can't say "L" and Koreans have difficulty with "F"...) Might want to rethink "Singlish".

Close Encounter
Member
Member
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon, 17 Oct 2005

Postby Close Encounter » Thu, 22 Jun 2006 7:17 am

Wow Banana, your Singlish is so solid and powerful one! I wish my English is as solid as your Singlish.

Joking aside, why would anyone who is a qualified English teacher and a native speaker want to work in a local school for MOE when the International Schools in Singapore offer better salary, better conditions of work, smaller classes, less stress and an education system similar to one back home etc.
You can work part-time and your salary is probably equivalent or even more than a teacher working full time in a local school. Local schools are simply crazy with students in primary schools doing their homework, sometimes up to midnight.

User avatar
sundaymorningstaple
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 35120
Joined: Thu, 11 Nov 2004
Location: Still Fishing!
Contact:

Postby sundaymorningstaple » Thu, 22 Jun 2006 9:30 am

Close Encounter wrote:Wow Banana, your Singlish is so solid and powerful one! I wish my English is as solid as your Singlish.

Joking aside, why would anyone who is a qualified English teacher and a native speaker want to work in a local school for MOE when the International Schools in Singapore offer better salary, better conditions of work, smaller classes, less stress and an education system similar to one back home etc.
You can work part-time and your salary is probably equivalent or even more than a teacher working full time in a local school. Local schools are simply crazy with students in primary schools doing their homework, sometimes up to midnight.


CE, I'm not really the one to answer this, k1w1 could very easily though. But, from my POV, I spent over 3 years working for UNHCR (89-91) resettling Vietnamese Refugees throughout the various camps here in SE Asia (P. Bidong in M'sia, P. Galang in the Riau Islands on the other side of P. Bintan, and Palawan in the Philippines). I got paid virutally nothing - a bit more than subsistance. I lived in the camps along side of them, ate their food and suffered the mozzies just like them. I did this for 2 weeks every month while I did interviews with the refugees. And I had a wife and 2 kids as well at the time. As a NAM vet, I have a long relationship with the former S. Vietnamese military. I felt it was something that I could do to help my fellow man. It has nothing to do with the money but everything to do with the heart.(Okay, and possibly the resume as well in the future. :wink:

"Real" teachers have a similar need. The teaching "profession" is just that. Teaching is a love affair with knowledge and the desire to impart that knowledge to others. It rarely has anything to do with money - otherwise who would be the worlds' primary & secondary school teachers? They do not get paid that much anywhere in the world. It's the love of and the satisfaction of seeing young people absorbing knowledge that "you" have given them. I'm not saying money isn't important but there are more teachers in public school systems than in universities. In the us for example, you can make more money working on the General Motors assembly line making cars than you can at teaching.

Maybe it's called giving something back, for lack of a better description?

sms

User avatar
jpatokal
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3014
Joined: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
Location: Terra Australis Incognita

Postby jpatokal » Thu, 22 Jun 2006 9:33 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:As Singlish does NOT follow any specific laws of grammar it cannot be considered a language.

No, it's a human language and thus has a grammar. This is not an arguable point: not only does every human language pretty much by definition have a grammar (otherwise it's just a jumble of words), but there are people who've done their doctoral dissertations on analyzing Singlish grammar in detail. See here for a primer:

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

Given that it sounds semi-random to the English ear, it's actually fascinatingly complex and orderly if you understand a little of the evolution.

Then I would have to say your assumption that creolization has taken place is incorrect and Singlish is not taught at home as the first language.

Did your parents teach you English with a blackboard, verb conjugations and grammar exercises? I'd presume that they didn't, instead they talked to you at home "normally" and you picked it up as you grew up. Well, surprise surprise, that's also how Singaporeans learn Singlish at home.

You'll also note that there were three options given in your earlier quote: a pidgin can a) die out, b) become obsolete or c) turn into a creole when a second generation of speakers is born. Which category does Singlish belong to?

Dialect is usually taught at home. English and mother tongue taught in school. Singlish is usually learned on the street. Just like Jive or Homeboy in the US. I guess you will now say they are proper languages as well?

See, there you go again with the "proper" thing, which instantly implies that there's such a thing as an "improper" language. And to answer your question, yes, some would argue that from a linguistic perspective "African American Vernacular English" is a separate language. (This is not a mainstream view though, it's generally considered just a dialect, because it is fundamentally still English.)
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

User avatar
jpatokal
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 3014
Joined: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
Location: Terra Australis Incognita

Postby jpatokal » Thu, 22 Jun 2006 9:37 am

earthfriendly wrote:Ha, ha, ha, upon first visit to SG, my SO asked me what "lah" means! In retrospect, I should have explained to him that "lah" is a musical note, just like "do, ray, mi". It has no meaning in itself, just for the sound (melodious) effect. :D

Yes or no lah? Ok........ lah. Lah, I love you.

Do those raindrops sound a little strange? The kind of thing wet-behind-the-ears angmohs say, perhaps? Just because you can't explain the logic doesn't mean there isn't one.
Vaguely heretical thoughts on travel technology at Gyrovague

User avatar
k1w1
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 680
Joined: Mon, 30 May 2005

Postby k1w1 » Thu, 22 Jun 2006 9:53 am

Close Encounter wrote:Joking aside, why would anyone who is a qualified English teacher and a native speaker want to work in a local school for MOE when the International Schools in Singapore offer better salary, better conditions of work, smaller classes, less stress and an education system similar to one back home etc.
You can work part-time and your salary is probably equivalent or even more than a teacher working full time in a local school. Local schools are simply crazy with students in primary schools doing their homework, sometimes up to midnight.


You're not a teacher, are you?

I don't know what you've been told but the MOE pays foreign teachers/specialists additional benefits for working with them here. It's nothing close to a standard expat package but it by no means half of what International Schools pay either. Plus they pay hefty bonuses.

The school system here is extremely stressful, but I have met a growing number of local parents who are very aware that this is not only unnecessary but unhelpful too. There is huge push from people like this, and a few open-minded educators, to make schooling a more valuable experience than just filling out worksheets and getting good test scores. I think (I hope) there will be changes in the near future in this regard.

Short of being a parent, teaching would have to be the most thankless -and yet very gratifying job. There are days when I wonder why I don't get an MBA or something, but I feel lucky to do something that I love.

Oh and one more point - teaching children who sit quietly, do their homework, have enormous pressure to perform well (and don't just flip the bird at it!) and are genuinely concerned about their progress is NOWHERE NEAR the stress that your average teacher faces in state schools in their home country. For those reasons, the MOE is going to have them lining up to get here. In fact, they already are...


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “Strictly Speaking”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests