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Postby pakjohn » Wed, 06 May 2009 6:54 am

I taught my children not to make fun of people that speak with an accent because it usually means the speaker knows one more language than they do. I speak several and figure I get snickers from the respective locals when talking to them in their mother tongue.

Agree with SE, this is a well fed wind up.
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Postby ksl » Wed, 06 May 2009 11:09 am

pakjohn wrote:I taught my children not to make fun of people that speak with an accent because it usually means the speaker knows one more language than they do. I speak several and figure I get snickers from the respective locals when talking to them in their mother tongue.

Agree with SE, this is a well fed wind up.


Got to agree, it's a feeble attempt to pass off, as an elite :lol: Although he shouldn't give up :wink: if he wants to rub shoulders with the aristocrats. I met an Indian that spoke better English than i had ever heard outside of the Military, he told me he had learnt English from working in the Officers mess.

A real gentleman I must say, I was impressed with his elegant mannerism and his accent.

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Postby QRM » Wed, 06 May 2009 1:08 pm

Skppp wrote:....I am leaving this forum for good....Thanks for all the well informed and friendly replies. Take care and enjoy each others' company.


Skppp,

Why so long face? Can you imagine some Chinese bloke in the UK, walking into a local village pub, wearing Jodhpurs, cravat, monoclue, and a satchel full of exam certificates, then he harks on to all the locals that he, and his fellow country folks are smarter than the average Englishman? The guy will be spending the next three days removing Brussels sprout from an opening design to never see daylight.

Even though there is no A levels in the fine art of ribbing, I am sure you of all people, being educated in the UK, should know how to handle the piss take as much as you are willing to dish it out?

OR was it not an attempt at the wooden spoon trophy? and you really cant see how kiasu it is?

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Postby jpatokal » Wed, 06 May 2009 5:12 pm

QRM wrote:Why so long face? Can you imagine some Chinese bloke in the UK, walking into a local village pub, wearing Jodhpurs, cravat, monoclue, and a satchel full of exam certificates, then he harks on to all the locals that he, and his fellow country folks are smarter than the average Englishman? The guy will be spending the next three days removing Brussels sprout from an opening design to never see daylight.

:lol:
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Postby vbelle » Fri, 08 May 2009 1:09 pm

interesting video in Okto, sent by secondary school students i think.
where there is this kid trying to call to say there is a burglar but then he said burger...and at the end it said
-speak good english movement-

pretty funny

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Postby EADG » Sat, 09 May 2009 10:29 am

that was my 1st thought, seeing it was his 1st post

Strong Eagle wrote:It's a wind up.
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape

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Postby EADG » Sat, 09 May 2009 10:32 am

word, JP


speaking of words, the word is rote


jpatokal wrote:
Skpp(new) wrote:You cannot "route learn" to pass an English exam because thare are no formulas to memorize. You can only route learn sciences, mathematics...etc.

It is not possible to prepare for an English exam by memorizing. The only way is to have a strong foundation in English.

Snicker. Take a look at English education in Japan, which has an excellent track record of producing students who ace their fiendishly difficult exams, yet are unable to string together a coherent sentence.
Ape Shall Not Kill Ape

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Postby LoriW » Sun, 10 May 2009 7:35 pm

I must admit I find this thread fascinating! I started looking at these forums when I was offered a 3 year contract in Singapore, just for useful tips and to see what the expat community was like.

I'm a little different from the average foreign worker, being British born to Singaporean parents and visited Singapore regularly since childhood - I'm in my mid-40s now.

The language thing has always been in my opinion a truly bizzarre situation. I think that it is so important to remember that not only is Singapore a cross cultural, multi racial country, it is aso a very new country - whether you are looking at Stamford Raffles' trading post or Lee Kuan Yew's "brave new world".

My father is in his mid 80s and was a pupil at Raffles Institution a year or so below Lee Kuan Yew in the pre-war years. He speaks English with "RP" (received pronounciation) - not only because he spent most of his working life as an architect in England, but because that is the way he was taught to speak!

In my experience, chinese dialects are now rarely spoken in the home, being replaced by English/Singlish and Mandarin/poor mandarin. Many of my cousins speak passable English (I have an enormous extended family with my mother being the 2nd of 11 children), their children however generally speak appalling Singlish.

The cousin we generally stay with on our annual visits speaks "good" english as does his wife. His younger children aged 8 and 10 never fail to amaze me! Within a few days of our arrival, they actually pick up the way my partner and I speak and lo and behold, no Singlish - apart from to each other, and near perfectly enunciated words!

As for the learning by rote issue - sadly, I do believe that was and, to a certtain extent is still true. My own education was at an independant girls' day school in a London suburb. My cousins of my age attended the "prestige" schools of Singapore - Raffles Institution, Raffles Grls' School, Anglo Chinese School, Singapore Chinese Girls' School. In other words, they received a good school education followed by university either in Singapore or in the West. The way they were taught at school was light years away from the way I was taught. Where we were encouraged to find things out for ourselves, they were given information on a plate to learn!

I feel rather sad that the country which produced a leader like Lee Kuan Yew and men like my amazing father and his brother has changed over the past 40 odd years. A Singaporean of the same age and with the same qualifications as me would not be capable of doing my job and even if employed at the same place would earn substantially less. Surely, instead of hiring foreign workers and paying us good salaries, the powers that be ought to be able to see that by changing the way they bring up their youngsters, they can breed a country of capable workers.

I'm not really complaining right now since I've been given a fabulous opportunity!

Change, however is just about on the doorstep. For every cousin I have who sits nightly with a cane in his hand watching the children doing their homework or even a cane in his hand watching the private tutor, I have another who is totally laid back and allows (and trusts) the children to get on with their studies! Not suprisingly, those who are left to get on with it are those who do better at school!!

Another interesting point .......... English and Mandarin seem to be the biggest problem subjects at school!

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Postby ksl » Sun, 10 May 2009 8:32 pm

LoriW I feel rather sad that the country which produced a leader like Lee Kuan Yew and men like my amazing father and his brother has changed over the past 40 odd years


My own belief, is that it is closely linked to the UK in more ways, than we really understand politically, and that it would be counter productive for all to have the same privileges of a very high education system, that allowed youngsters to think for themselves.

My theoretic idea's that governments like the UK, simply avoid social equality as much as possible, otherwise the aristocrats and even the parliamentary system would be at risk from intellectual enemies, any form of power by the people will be crushed, we can relate that to the British Unions back in Thatchers time. The people like Scargill and others that are at risk of undermining government by people power are bought out, rather than slung in jail for defamation.

I sense the same sadness, when i visit my own Country after living in a more liberal and democratic society like Denmark, where students are encouraged into politics and really do have the power to remove a prime minister from office.

It could never happen in the UK, because the system reeks of the old boys club. I believe the rise of Singapore wasn't done by Lee Kuan Yew, alone, the planning of such things would have been a joint venture in my opinion, because of the hub status rather than Singapore Country a Country. It was destined to be much more because of the trading links and plans for the financial sector, I suspect that negotiations had to be done behind closed doors, to guarantee the stability of the Country.

It would be a typical move of the British to ensure that a class system held up in Singapore, and not to give too many privileges to the people, like a very good education, if they had that, they would lead the country themselves.

Although looking back on my life having been in stationed here with the British Army in 70, I can honestly feel proud on behalf of Singaporeans, rather than envy, because the Singapore government have served the population very well, and have given all, the potential of a high quality life, with opportunities to climb the ladder of competition.

There is much to learn from life, and when one is a worldly adventurer, one identifies positive aspects of cultures, traditions and governments and always compares to the one where our roots lie.

Understanding the history and quest of a one Europe, is to see first hand, how politics and power is held on to by the governments.

The people of UK have not had any real say about Europe, and this is how the UK likes it, it makes it's own laws, to ensure the people of UK, do not get their European rights. Having lived 23 years in Denmark, I see this loud and clear...the people are just sheep, that have been pacified with cheap beer and football, to keep their minds off politics.

If politics was a part of the school curriculum, you can bet your life that the UK would be in the hands of the people and not the old boys club.

Your post by the way confirmed my own theories, on education being restricted for those that are privileged in the first place, although there is nothing wrong with that in my eyes, competition is healthy and the skill of straight A's is a skill to be admired.

It is the stepping stone to greater things, to be able to study hard, although experience comes from further afield!

English and Mandarin seem to be the biggest problem subjects at school
Yes also for my own daughter in local school, I see the problem may also be the contractors that supply the books for home work too, many with a great deal of errors, which i have complained about.

The other problem is a child that doesn't want to study, no matter what the rewards are and cane I'm afraid doesn't help, in fact quite the opposite, so mine went in the bin.

My wife and myself, are always involved with helping my daughter with home work, it's a very challenging task, when the child knows how to manipulate one, but not the other, to break the child spirit, is also to break them has a person, which i do not agree with at all.

I have discussed with my daughter of 8 years about respect working both ways, which she doesn't fully grasp just yet, but it is helping, when i insisted she does has she is told, being the only child does not help. Although she is attempting straight A's this term, for a guitar.

I myself was unfortunate by luck of the draw when a child, and never even made the 11 plus, which meant i had no say in the direction I would go, but the bottom class until I left school, and that was the system of UK, again Grammar School was out of the question, if your parents didn't have the connections.

Although it doesn't stop one from climbing the ladder of success, the will power to succeed, is what it takes.

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Postby LoriW » Sun, 10 May 2009 9:38 pm

If politics was a part of the school curriculum, you can bet your life that the UK would be in the hands of the people and not the old boys club.


Oh absolutely! We had "current affairs" lessons at school which were essentially reading the newspapers with a totally objective view. As a student, I became involved in student politics and was very much anti Thatcher.

The problem for me with Singaporean society is that although the country is run by the people for the people, there are still so many incredibly stringent laws.

KSL, my partner, like you failed his 11-plus so went through the secondary modern system in a particularly rough school where intelligence meant a daily "duffing up". After O levels, he went on to the local boys grammar for a levels and again failed. His education was all obtained part time and the final year full time - out of all this, he still got a better degree than me!

I do however feel that the "old boys' network" is as much at work in a peoples' society like Singapore as in an overtly class conscious society as the UK. If you look at Singaporeans in senior positions, they are all very much products of the "prestige schools" and the alumni societies allow the children of these people preferential fees at the same schools.

Fair enough, entry into somewhere like Raffles Institution is still based upon the child's academic ability but the child still very much gets a metaphorical "leg up" if he has a family history. My cousin's 7 year old is at the primary school but with his grandfather, greast uncle, uncle as alumni as well as his grandmother and aunt as alumni of Raffles Girls' School I still think he will get into the secondary school with no difficulty.

My father, although from a fairly priveleged background lived through the horrors of the Japanese occupation and dabbled a little into communism just after the war, believing very strongly that the future is in the hands of everyone who has a part in shaping it.

Throughout my childhood, his favourite quote to me was "in an equal society, there are always those who are more equal" - a vague quote/learning point from Orwell's Animal Farm. This, to me really does show what Singapore is all about - for the locals anyway!

I see so many posts here about salary, mingling with the locals, etc etc. I'm fortunate enough to be soon starting life as an expat worker, but I'd say that other than my 20 years experience in my industry, a part of my being offered the position is an ability to cross cultures! I think that everyone off to start a new life in Singapore just needs to go with an open mind.

I love it when after 2 weeks of being with my cousin's children, you really would not be able to tell his little girl apart from an English girl when she speaks!

As for the Singaporean or even Malaysian accent being "neutral" - sorry folks - it's not! A year or so ago, we hired a Malaysian chemical engineer. Two issues with him which still stand ....... people can't always understand what he says and ...... he's arrogant!!

I'd probably describe myself as a "Global Citizen" - I don't actually belong anywhere but am accepted in most places! In rural England at the local working men's club, as a very tiny female of Oriental appearance, I've been asked "why have you got a foreign face and an English voice??", in France, speaking fluent French, I have had the question "are you Vietnamese?" asked many times, in Singapore - my parents' country, even before I open my mouth, it is assumed that I'm foreign - and that's even when I'm not accompanied with my very Caucasian partner!

So ......... as far as language is concerned, I strongly believe that speaking correctly is far more important than accent. That way, one is understood, but a slight accent really isn't an issue!

My family have commented that my partner and I speak slightly differently - he's from Dorset with an accent, I'm sadly "correctly elocuted" but with a touch of the South East/London.

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Postby ksl » Sun, 10 May 2009 11:29 pm

Oddly enough when I am visiting my home City in Lancaster, they believe I'm snobbish, because i have no Lancastrian accent, so i must come from down South ha!

The world is ones' oyster and it is there for the taking, speaking clearly is very important, even if not correct. Although Danish for me was quite difficult to pronounce at 29 years old, so I speak Danish with a British tone, when being lazy, and if not understood, I then have to really concentrate on the pronunciation. When younger it becomes second nature and easier to pick up, the accents.

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Postby LoriW » Sun, 10 May 2009 11:43 pm

When younger it becomes second nature and easier to pick up, the accents.


Absolutely, I grew up bilingual in English and Cantonese - I'm probably from the last generation of those of Singaporean origin who speak dialect. I learnt French, I'd say when I was a student - even though it was taught at school and I have an O level in it - proves that an academic qualification is meaningless :wink:

My closest friend when I was at university had a french mother who lives in the south west of France and spending a couple of weeks there in the summer certainly teaches you the lingo if no one around you speaks English!

Mandarin ........ my mother tried to teach me when I was very young with very little success! However, like with French, it is very easy to pick up the intonation if it is thrown at you! I speak mandarin with the vocabulary of a 4 year old but with a near perfect Beijing accent! So in singapore I can converse with small children and haggle with market traders!

My cantonese, again isn't of the Singaporean variety - so unlike my Singaporean cousins, I am perfectly capable of making myself understood in Hong Kong! Several of my cousins claimed that when visiting HK, they were greeted with rudeness because they spoke a type of singaporean "slang"!!

However, the thought of trying to learn a new language now is a tad daunting - my partner and I tried to learn a little Italian - it's really only holiday-speak though.

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Postby Quasimodo » Mon, 11 May 2009 9:45 am

LoriW wrote:
I feel rather sad that the country which produced a leader like Lee Kuan Yew and men like my amazing father and his brother has changed over the past 40 odd years. A Singaporean of the same age and with the same qualifications as me would not be capable of doing my job and even if employed at the same place would earn substantially less. Surely, instead of hiring foreign workers and paying us good salaries, the powers that be ought to be able to see that by changing the way they bring up their youngsters, they can breed a country of capable workers.


Actually, LKY produced the country, not the other other way around. :)

Very good posts, Lori, thank you for sharing your personal experiences.

I believe you will find that there are multiple issues which brings to bear the situation vis-a-vis employment, scholastic achievement and salaries.

Singapore's need and dependence on foreign companies has dictated that the economic structure is built around enticing foreign companies to settle in Singapore . . . and with it comes the requirement of these companies to send 'their' nationals to fill certain posts. This is natural and you will find this everywhere.
Singaporeans should not 'outprice' themselves as the surrounding countries have caught up or are catching up in regard to qualifications, english fluency and infratsructure . . . Singapore will have nothing unique to offer anymore, especially if the cost of local labour is too high.

Just look at the number of Malaysians filling mid- to upper middle positions in Singapore. I must admit to having a preference to hiring MYs to Sps as they seem to be more grounded and have less of an 'entitlement' attitude.

Education . . . I'm afraid that the days of dialect are gone and that is probably a good thing. My wife only speaks Hokkien with her parents now, our children are certainly not taught any dialect . . . not even mine, actually not even my mother tongue.

A difficult situation, indeed.
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Postby ksl » Mon, 11 May 2009 11:21 am

When I think of the Countries I have lived, I compare many aspects of life, with back home. Today my daughter is only 8 years old, and i question myself of how over protective I am.

When i was the same age I was exploring the wild, rabbiting with youngsters my own age, fishing and cycling for miles. I'm sure my mother would not have slept at night if she knew what i was up to every day.

My mother had to work so I was left to defend for myself, the dangers when we went digging for fishing bait, were very real in Morecambe bay and Hest Bank area, where all the Chinese had lost their lives looking for cockles although our fathers guidance was never forgotten.

These risks in nature are part of the learning process of commonsense, were in general not only Singapore parents and children lack, I have also seen the over protected environment in Denmark too. Which I believe limits childrens development, because mothers and fathers have become more interested in the straigh A system of education, rather than kids out discovering what life is all about.

Although the dangers of children out playing alone are very real, but i see so much over protection even in the play areas, were the ground is also rubber matting... Many times Singaporeans have questioned my father instincts, because i haven't stopped my daughter hanging upside down on the monkey bars... I said if she falls, she will learn her lesson to be more careful. Other kids don't get the same opportunities here to adventure into their own world....only exams and cane is the rule of the day.

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Postby LoriW » Mon, 11 May 2009 3:25 pm

Just look at the number of Malaysians filling mid- to upper middle positions in Singapore. I must admit to having a preference to hiring MYs to Sps as they seem to be more grounded and have less of an 'entitlement' attitude.


Not the first time I've heard that one! A colleague worked in Singapore until about 8 years ago and he always said he would prefer to hire a Malaysian or better still an Indian! Simply because the spoon fed education in Singapore does not appear to be producing people who are capable of independant thought! Also the "entitlement attitude" thing - Singaporeans generally do seem to have a huge superiority complex - about themselves, their country etc - I think I'm allowed to say this, being of Singaporean origin!

Saying that, I can think of two cousins in particular - one who is a chemistry teacher at a local secondary school who is very laid back and "western" in the way she brings up her family. Probably having lived several years in the USA due to her husband's work has led to this! Another cousin - again who has spent a lot of time in the West (high school in New Jersey, university in Calgary) brings her children up in a more westernised fashion! All of these kids are high achievers without the cane or spoon feeding!

Amazed, even to see the older teens being offered a glass of wine with their dinner!

Education . . . I'm afraid that the days of dialect are gone and that is probably a good thing. My wife only speaks Hokkien with her parents now, our children are certainly not taught any dialect . . . not even mine, actually not even my mother tongue.


See I'm not 100% sure that I'm comfortable with that ......... in today's global society languages are so important. Growing up in the UK where the standard of foreign language teaching is appalling and seeing far too many Brits abroad who genuinely do believe that speaking in english loudly will get them understood, I think that learning any language is a bonus.


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