Mar 9, 2007

Thought for the Day

Just came across an Albert Einstein quote in a book yesterday. Thought I'd share:
    "Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid."
I post this, because it makes a neat point about the preceding post (see below).

So remember folks, you're not stupid just because you weren't good at what Singapore judges you by. That applies to your Chinese Language grade too.


Anonymous said...

Cool post, Mr Wang. My wife failed her Pre U Chinese, altho she managed A1 in English Lit. Nope, she could not go to the local U and that was that. As a parent, I am glad Mr Tharman has the multi-mountain range approach and the setting up of sports school / art school is a great idea, altho we hear of implementation issues like the need for good grades to enter the sports school. I thought it was a bit sad when the sports school graduated in RJC and the ST gave a whole she-bang to it - like all falling back to nought kind of feeling :(

resonance said...

Yes I agree. And I believe that it applies to English language too.

My friend failed his O level English, and did not do well for his maths and science subjects, despite an A1 in Chinese.

All he wanted was to study Chinese, but he was posted to ITE for some technical course because of the E8 in English.

Anonymous said...

We are all clever and we are all stupid, we are all in one. If one is stupid with a lot of money, no harm being stupid. If one is clever but with no money, no one will believe him/her to be intelligent. It is a silly world anyway.

muffin said...

2 thumbs up for this post!

Chinese has always been my *worst* subject, from primary school, through secondary school, up till JC, where I just managed to scrape through and get the bare minimum grades needed for Uni.

Fortunately, i think, none of my family members or friends judge me by how badly I've fared in Chinese, choosing instead to focus on my stronger flair in English and Mathematics.

I agree with your previous post, on how we should focus on the positive aspects instead of dwelling on the negative. I shall bear that in mind and hopefully it'll result in a less cynical mindset that i adopt.

Anonymous said...

Much as been said/tossed around about the futility of academic grades in measuring a person's ability.

That said, it still remains to be seen whether is there a viable alternative to this 'ruler'.

It does seem a tad unfair that under the present system, monkeys are the obvious winners.

Kai said...


But as it goes, there's really no reliable way in gauging ones' talents; the closest is of course the academic results.

But academical excellence doesn't mean real-life success.

It's difficult to actually implement a system whereby students are taught to develop their talents. Too systematic would result in students feeling judged. What happens to those students good in cooking? If the school doesn't have cooking lessons, where would the student go?

Meng Chong said...

Great point made Mr Wang

Not sure if Chinese characters will come out. It is about allowing the various unique talents to have the space to flower. In Chinese it is 百花齐放.

A2 but fail oral exam said...

Actually students (both guys and gals) are taught to cook, sew, etc in some Nordic countries education system ;-)

Btw, good grades at language does not mean being strong in the language. I was such a fluke case. Never gathered enough interest to master the Chinese language during school (not the horrible rote-learning way it was taught in school) and practically relying on "sympathy" marks to pass. Over the years, I became v good at guessing... AO chinese at JC level being an MCQ (multiple-choice question) paper and an essay paper. I was lucky that it was a very tough exam that year... the average student couldn't do well, the clueless student like me didn't even know it was a tough paper and applied my guess skills as usual. Ended up with A2 in Chinese probably due to grades-moderation by the exam board, but failed the Chinese oral section :-D

lee hsien tau said...

Thanks Mr Wang for your comforting words.

I always got F9 for my second language, but for my Chinese language teacher wacking my limbs all red, I would have invented Han Yue Pin Yin.

Like Hector Heatcoat, I was an unsung hero.

Anonymous said...

To make Chinese language the scapegoat and the focus whenever we talk about education issue in singapore, is to miss the big picture.

Facts that you may want to know.
1. English passing rate at O-level below 50% from 1965 till 1995 = 40 years = vast majority of Singaporeans.

2. Failure of English = cannot go JC, Poly, anywhere (before recent revamp of system).

3. Poor English = also cannot pass Science, Math, History and practically all subjects taught in English.

4. Cannot pass subjects = being streamed into EM3, Normal technical etc.

5. Being streamed = you look down on yourself = you think you are "stupid".

6. being streamed = other people also look down on you = other people think you are stupid.

7. Poor paper qualification = u cannot find any decent job in Singapore = you become a production worker or odd-job labourer

8. lousy job = lousy money = hard to get married.

9. you get replaced at 40 years old by foreign workers, or simply kana retrenched becos MNC leave country.

pt 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 means vast majority of singaporeans are penalised for their English, for 40 years. Till today, many thought they are stupid, their own children are stupid (if they are lukcy enough to get married and have kids), because their english is too poor to read the awe-inspiring fish-climb-tree thingy that Einstein said.

But wait, there is more...

10. Meanwhile, minority who speaks good english = good education = elite in govt.

11. Elite loook down on you, for your broken english, your "stupidity", your inability to articulate things.

12. You attend your kids wedding and you, together with all your relatives dont even know what the f they are talking on the stage - 'cos your precious son/daughter elite conducted the whole session in English.

13. Even your own childen and son-in-law/ daughter-in-law are ashamed of your inability to speak English, and the menial job that you have to do because your english is not good enoughh for higher job. They may not want to be seen with you lest you embarassed them with your broken english.

14. Your voice is not heard = you become silent majority = you and your children caught in the vicious cycle with no political clout = you suffer injustice quietly.

15. Meanwhile, some elite minority who have minor problem with Chinese, problems that are incomparable in scale to yours, is able to make mountain out of mole hole, make Chinese the scape goat, as if it is the biggest problem in Singapore, make govt lower chinese standard, while nothing is done abt your even greater problem.

Not that 2 wrongs will make 1 right. But it becomes kind of "comical" when social discussion does not concentrate on the mother of all problem, but chose instead to pick a scapegoat to take all the gun-powder!

Anonymous said...

i believe that the issue here is not whether its english or chinese. but the fact that one should focus on his or her strengths instead of being judged by their weaknesses, be it chinese, english, maths, or whatever. so i guess those people who chose to either 1. criticise chinese or 2. criticise english is missing the point.

I use the phrase "criticise english" and "criticise chinese" loosely. i believe that you should know what i'm saying.

Anonymous said...

> Your voice is not heard = you become silent majority

If that's the only thing, it still ok. Truth is you will be penalised in court of law and also in court of the public, in dealing with govt stat board and also private offices, in fact, inconvenienced and ostracised and discriminated every where you go in sg.

But nope, you are not a problem. You dont even "exist". The biggest problem abt sg is one and only one: Chinese - sufficient reason for pple to migrate, and for govt to set up an entire committee to look into it. lol

Meng Chong said...

Looks like the language thing is still topic of the day regardless of the thread. :-)

This ridiculous requirement for passing/minimum grade for Chinese/mother tongue is a political ploy to say the gahment has done its part to promote Chinese in Singapore. I'm for preserving one's language/culture this use of it for pure political gains is ridiculous.

For all the retortic about being number one in numerous areas, after 20-30 years of Speak Good Mandarin campaign the result is we have a generation of ethnic Chinese that can't hold a decent conversation in Mandarin.

A blot of black on the little red dot don't you think? Heh heh.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

Ya, totally agree there. I flunked my Mandarin in Primary 6 and got transferred to Normal stream. I just didn't get the logic. I passed my English with a B+, Math, Science with As but got a D- for Mandarin. Meanwhile, I had another classmate who got Cs for his Math and Science- but got As for his English and Chinese. He got to Express.

Most successful people in the world are not bi-lingual. Yet, the Govt wanted to force it thru despite the objections of many parents.

I just couldn't speak Mandarin. I hated it on the first day of class when I got slapped by the Mandarin teacher for asking why the Chinese didn't develop an alphabet or phonetic system. As far as I was concerned, Mandarin was little better than Egyptian hieroglyphics.

My parents, grandparents, relatives, friends all spoke to me in English- I might as well have been trying to learn Latin.

The fact that all the Mandarin teachers in my school were vicious sadists- didn't help either.

Anti-Chinese said...

you are absolutely right: English, Math, Science are the most important subjects in this world, must worship them. Chinese is like least imporant, can be thrown away. No wonder you cannot understand the logic of treating the 4 subjects equally in PSLE. Stupid govt. Stupid Chinese. 3 subjects are semi-god, 1 subject is dirt. Can't all these ppple at MOE get it? they are wrong. You are right - always!

And of course you are right too, most successful people in the world are not billingual - the French President and his cabinet can only speak french. Nokia's CEO can only speak finnish. Top european CEOs speaks all speaks only English, and dunno other european langauge. Funny thing is how come i read somewhere that most europeans (outside UK) know at least 2, if not 3 languages? Hmm, must be those articles are bullshitting. How can they be correct?

Yup, mandarin teachers were all vicious sadist. It has nothing to do with your attitude towards the language. Somehow dunno why, all teachers go thru NIE, yet, English, Math, Science teachers are ok, the chinese teachers becomes vicious and sadistic. Hmm, must be Chinese language is a kind of bad spell - they cause anyone who learn it to go insane, and those who advance to teaching it will advanced to become sadist.

Yup, down with Chinese. I support you!

Proud Singaporean said...

I got an F9 for Chinese, just like some of you. I am very proud of it. Mr. Wang, can you help me announce it. I want the whole world to know.

Those Chinese prude dunno why, keep thinking that we should be ashamed of it.

Those Europeans too. When i went switzerland, Germany, italy, Finland, Norway etc and they know that I am a Chinese Singaporean and I cannot speak Chinese, the not-so-polite ones all have this "funny look" on their face.

These people think that just because they can speak 3 languages from among german, french, english, dutch, finnish etc, we singaporeans must follow too.

They are all wrong. They should be ashamed of knowing so many languages. They should be ashamed that they did not fail their native language or foreign langauge or whatever in school.

They should be like me: I failed my language (nevermind native or foreign) and i am damn proud of it!

Happy F9 said...

I just took my A-level. I failed English, fail Science, fail Math.

Do you people want to know my cool account of how I failed them?

I can give you a detailed story abt my teacher's sadism, my disgust for the various subjects, and how i failed them. I am sure you people are dying to hear abt it, because getting F9 is real cool!

But alas, I passed my chinese. That is not cool. So I wont publcise how I pass. Only how I fail.

Woohoo! I failed! Must quickly go home and post comments on every blog to let everybody know. yeah!

Coolest Failure said...

All you people boast wat boast abt your failures (not I say, thats the word you ppple used) in Chinese? You people are no match to me.

I failed chinese from pri 1 to A-level. More than that, I failed English, Physics, Bio.. every subject you named it, I failed.

Used to be so embarrassed that I couldnt do well. Didn't know that actually it is something to be proud of and to boast about. But now that you people have turned led by examples, I am ready to tell you all abt my failures.

I am way cooler than all of you - i failed more subjects than you pple! yeah yeah yeah!

Anonymous said...

There are 4 subjects in PSLE, 8 subjects at O-level, 6 subjects at A-level.

All subjects are important and must be learnt for a well-rounded education, with the exception of Chinese (which is dirt)

All these subjects have good teachers, with the exception of Chinese teachers (who are sadistic assholes).

All these subjects should be given high weightage and be required to proceed to the next level of Education, except for Chinese (which is a dirt, i already told you).

A brilliant person will be able to pass all these subjects and French or German as a 3rd language at O-level, but not Chinese. And these have nothing to do with attitude or not speaking the language daily. It's simply because Chinese is the most difficult language in the world, or that the teachers are bad, or that it is due to brain development, or anything lah, just pick whatever you want -- so long as it is the fault of chinese, and not us.

All these subjects should be studied diligently because any failure in it is embarrasing and something which we will not want to announce proudly. But Chinese is again an exception - dirt mah, 3rd time i tell you already. So failure in Chinese is something to proud of, just like you shake off dirt from your body. Shiok!

I failed. did you?

what? you passed? Sigh, not cool lah you. Very obiang! Too bad for you. You gotta keep quiet abt it, you toot toot chinaman.

Anonymous said...

His O-level results
English - F9. His fault: Didn't work hard enough.
Math - E8. His fault: lazy.
History - D7. His fault: stupid
Geography - E8. His fault: lazy + stupid.

conclusion: better go hug pillow at home. Shame on him.

Her O-level result
Chinese - F9. Chinese's fault: teacher bad, curriculum bad, teaching style bad, moe bad, govt bad, the language itself is bad.

conclusion: time to go online to post comments to expose the evil of Chinese to everyone (plus boast a bit about this cool failure).

Make sense?
But that's the truth!
Believe her.

Kai said...

-Stop- spamming, anonymous.

Your poor attempt at sarcasm doesn't amuse, and achieve the effect you're setting out to achieve.

Anonymous said...

A2 but fail oral exam said:
Never gathered enough interest to master the Chinese language during school

huh? Are you being honest? How could it have been your fault? Surely you had enough interest, had the right attitude, had read Chinese novel everyday, had listened to Chinese radio on MRT rides daily, and had spoken the language 16 hrs a day when u were awake with friends and classmates, and in short, had made the language a part of your daily life, like the air your breathe.

Surely, you didnt do well in it because the language itself is difficult by nature and Singaporean humans are not meant biologically to be billingual (unlike Europeans and other Asians), plus of course chinese teachers are a unique breed imported from Mars (while others are home-trained).

How can you lie through your teeth wor. Cannot like that lah. Don't blame yourself. Be honest and truthful: Blame the language

(and rem, be proud of it)

Anonymous said...

Kai, I am not being sarcastic. I sincerely do think that any failure in Chinese is not due to my not immersing myself in the language daily and treating it as a part of my life, but due to wierd teachers and lousy curriculum. Hence i am proud to announce my failure in it, just as all of you here do.

I wonder which part of it do you find sarcastic? And why? Care to enlighten me? Your inference that I am to be blamed for failng Chinese is upsetting me, because that's simply not true.

Anonymous said...

fish - average human brain
tree - two languages

The average human brain cannot manage two languages, just as a fish cannot climb a tree?

And so it is Singapore's fault for demading something physically impossible from you?

I think Albern Einstein would disagree vigorously to his words being used in this way. He himself spoke multi languages: German(?), Austrian(?), Hebrew(?), English. So did many of his comrades in Germany (or was it Austria).

Anyway, mordern scientific research has shown that the average human brain is definitely capable of handling 2, 3, or even more lanuages - just that we will not be able to reach native speaker standard unless this is done before a certain age.

But we dont even need scientist to tell us that. A trip to anywhere outside UK/USA, will suffice.

Modern psychology however also shows that if we start with a "nobody can do it. It's physically impossible" attitude, we will never be able to do it. The knowlegeable Mr. Wang talk about this before, I believe. He said it's called the Pygmalion effect, also known as the Rosenthal effect, remember? I am your loyal reader ;)

a2 but fail oral exam said...

To anon at March 9, 2007 5:48 PM:

I wrote "Never gathered enough interest to master the Chinese language during school" and I meant precisely that. Did none of the stuff you mentioned. My point was to debunk the myth that good grades equates proficiency.

IMHO, the same group of Chinese-chauvinist who demand shame from others who don't speak Beijing-Mandarin well-enough at formal/biz standard are equally guilty of bigotry as the group of English-chauvinist who closed down Nanyang Uni and chinese-based edu in Sg years ago.

Migration story does not cut it. If so, then rightly our ancestors should have given up their "mother tongue" language when they chose to migrate to a BRITISH colony (English speakers with power).

By linguistic standards, mother tongue is the language a child is exposed to from a young age, nothing is said about the child's race/ethnicity. E.g. How about a chinese kid adopted into an indian family (common during pre-independence years)? How many chinese families actually spoke and/or understood mandarin before the "Speak Mandarin" campaign in Singapore?

To agrue about chinese vs dialects vs english etc, is to miss the bigger picture - if there were more choices for each student to learn in an environment that support him best, and more flexibility to develop his strengths, then Singapore would probably reap more star-performers in their own niches.

Anonymous said...

Not doing well for a subject in school doesn't make you stupid, but failing it sure does. Especially when it is *known* that you're screwed if you fail English/Maths/Chinese/whatever. a moderately intelligent person should really put in the effort to at least get a passing grade.

Another Oral Failure said...

Actually, I agree with 'a2 but fail oral exam' because that's how I did it too! I completely guessed my way to a B3 for my Os and C5 for my As. Totally failed my oral. Perhaps I'm not as good in guesswork as A2, but you know, the problem with guesswork is that it's kinda hit-and-miss?

10 years on, I look back and marvel at how I managed to pass considering I didn't even read the question, much less understand it, much less know the answer...

I remember I later had to explain to my Chinese HOD why I failed my oral. But I couldn't express myself in Chinese and after struggling for a while just told her in English instead. I think she understood immediately...


sigh said...

i agree with what To make Chinese language the scapegoat... said.

chinese language appears to be a sore point for many people, but i think those who are weak in english have it much worse. and yes i do understand that the issue here is that we should look at people's strengths and not their weaknesses. just got tired of people complaining about chinese when it's already a "lower class" subject in schools.

the people i know who did poorly in chinese (the mission school types) don't appear to think of themselves as stupid. most are confident and sure of themselves and what their strenghts are. some can even be quite proud about their 'ineptitude' in the language (when it's really disinterest).

Anonymous said...

anon @ March 9, 2007 2:40 PM,

I don't agree with your point 13. I think that is a kinda sweeping statement.

My parents don't know English and my dad can't even speak or even at times understand proper Mandarin. They both worked as cleaners.

I don't find them ashamed. And I appreciate their effort in bringing my brother and I up.

I hope you don't belong to point 13 yourself.

cannotsleep said...

Interesting debate going on here.....BUT CAN THE ANONYMOUS people post their messages with names? It's getting really confusing for my pea-sized brain. Any crappy name would do (like mine)....

And why do we keep revolving around whether the Chinese language system is flawed? I don't think that's the crux of the issue here. The main issue at hand is how the education system should be designed such that it can bring out the best in everyone.

a2 but fail oral exam said...

Anon at March 9, 2007 8:08 PM: "Not doing well for a subject in school doesn't make you stupid, but failing it sure does... a moderately intelligent person should really put in the effort to at least get a passing grade."

Firstly, at least 2 commentors (myself and "Another Oral Failure") are anecdotes of how passing in the examination system does not equate profiency.

Secondly, your comment above is an illustration of the mindset that Albert Einstein was debunking with his comment to "judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree".

IMHO, a wise/intelligent person will not accept a summary judgement of his intelligence from an arbitrary external decision on what constitute a "not stupid" pass-grade in any particular skill alone (be it language, maths, golfing, gambling, etc).

To Another Oral Failure: Yup, imagine my Chinese tutor's jaw drop when I told him I got an A2 and requested his confirmation that I could drop Chinese classes. His words where "You can get an A? Show me!" in the prove-it tone. As a student in his classes, I always had the impression that he "see-no-up those chinese-failure" students. Btw, this tutor is now a MIW... hope chinese-chauvinism is not used to "balance-out" english-chauvinism because 2 wrongs don't make a right.

cannotsleep said...

I was wondering....

If John has a 1/2french1/2english father and a 1/2japanese1/2chinese mother, what is his native language? Doesn't he have 3 second languages in this case?

Smurfette said...

It's pretty interesting to see that the only 2nd langauge being slammed here is Mandarin instead of two of our other official languages.

I just received my result for the Malay langauge 'A' Level exam- Ungraded indeed. The implication is that I'm required to re-take the exam this year instead of doing the Syllabus 'B'- that can only be taken next year if I fail again.

At least a command of Mandarin is economically-viable in this age of globalisation (think China), whereas the Malay langauge isn't. Just look at how backward Malaysia is. And for those fools who argue that knowing a certain langauge helps one understand the people and culture better (like how all my horrid Malay Lang. teachers espouse)- that only works if it's voluntary and not forced upon you. I've studied Malay since Pri 1 but for the life of me, I do not even have any Malay friends -partly due to the continuing existence of racial enclaves and my aversion to the language itself.

Ethnically, I'm not Malay but of mixed Asian ancestry. And this may actually sound seditious but when you're of a different lineage, and learning a langauge you hate- at some point in time, that hatred filters down from the language to the people- since their ancestors had created it, and they are still speaking it!

Therefore, the purpose of making all S'poreans study a second langauge just does not cut it. As for Mandarin, I took it up in kindergarten. I did have interest except that my mum decided Malay would be an easier choice since its alphabets are Romanised.

Compared to Mandarin, Malay is an inferior langauge- at least in my opinion. And having an inferior language makes its people just as inferior in my eyes.

kitsura said...

I find it ironic and very humorous that Mandarin is being slammed here and people are complaining that there are so few detractors.

Want to know why? Most of those who would defend Mandarin probably can't argue their case fluently in English.

Don't look for oranges in an apple farm. Don't expect too many people to defend Mandarin on an English website.

Anonymous said...

a2 but fail oral exam,

You are the the very illustration of my point and yet you think you disagree with it. We're all put into a school system that has bits we don't like. An intelligent person -- like yourself -- (though I'm beginning to doubt that) understands the system and does what it takes to minimise his torment (such as by getting A2 in Chinese so he can drop the subject altogether, or -- my point -- at least pass so his future is not jeopardised). (My reference to "failing" should have been "failing to meet the minimum requirement" -- failing an oral exam is not failing in that sense since it does not invalidate the overall pass grade.)

Judging a person in his chosen occupation by irrelevant school grades is what the PAP does.

But at school, we are not fish being judged by how we climb a tree. At the things we are judged by are managable, as evidenced by the successes of rote learning.

Anonymous said...

I got an F9 for my GP at A level!!! you know, sometimes i wish i rather pass my GP and fail my chinese. I am rather proficieny in my chinese but when i am in sydney now, i feel that my chinese isn't that good when I speak to the Chinese from China and my english sucks when I speak to the ang mos...The feeling sucks...

Anonymous said...

I now I say this sure kena slam one.. but hor, let me tell you that if you go 'over-sea' to work/ study the ang mo will not chap you but it is the PRC chinese/ Taiwanese/ Hongkee who want to be "Pheng Yew" with you I am glad that I forced myself to learn chinese ( I like you HATED chinese academically like Shit, but I "loon" and perservere)... at least NOW it help me to make good friend in a foreign land.. The ang mo will respect you if you know Chinese well, your "england" no matter how good ang mo and you sure got some sort of barrier one la.. I dunno, maybe i am a converted chinese helicopter ( You see my english writing you know liao la) but then I am proudly one... but do not get me wrong, I am not imposing that everyone must follow me but I just feel I must express how the chinese language helped me in this foreign land... ok la.... c u guys soon! :)

Sebastian said...

The irony of this learn Mandarin drive is that while the MIW messed up young people's lives with the language emphasis, the mainland Chinese are busy learning English. Why should they trust Singaporeans to be their translators, when they can communicate directly with the English speaking business world? When I do a technical presentation in Beijing, they always insist I speak in English, as they want to learn the technical terms e.g. "electric brain" in Mandarin just doesn't have the same ring as "computer".

Yau-ming's blog!! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
a2 but fail oral exam said...

To anonymous at March 10, 2007 5:37 AM:

"Judging a person in his chosen occupation by irrelevant school grades is what the PAP does."

Yup, agree. With PAP being the party forming the govt, their actions carry implications for the country and its citizens.

Having intelligent person(s) survived the system, does not mean the system is good or that it cannot be improved. One area of improvement is to allow students to move toward their interests and develop their strengths (e.g. select their own compulsory pass-subjects), while offering a broad-based education that does not penalize failure to meet some arbitrary standards (e.g. offer a wider range of optional subjects). The point is to support each student in developing his strengths and not be unnecessarily bogged down by his weaknesses... that (I infer) is the point of Mr Wang's post.

"we are judged by are managable, as evidenced by the successes of rote learning"

Yes, agree with you that one can pass a lot of stuff by rote learning. I even know a Computer Science grad who know nuts about systems and software development, passing her exams by regurgitation and leeching on her teammates for project work. Do we really want to churn out graduates who are "proficient" on-paper only?

What about the potential flip-side to over-emphasis on rote learning? Is there any correlation to the creativity (or lack of) in our students? Perhaps the educators would like to research into it?

Btw, my chinese tutor once tried an alternative method to teach chinese (through songs) albeit only for 2 lessons. Those were the 2 lessons that I truly enjoyed and made an effort to learn more of the language, I respected his attempt. Thereafter he switched back to the rote learning methodology, possibly because he was constrainted by the amount of "compulsory" AO syllabus he had to cover. Perhaps having a "syllabus B" back then may have supported for his alternative teaching methods.

To Smurfette... you're not alone. I know of another mixed heritage person who struggled because of his parents' decision that Malay would be his 2nd language. Yes, unfortunately, he looks down on the langauge and its people too.

Yau-ming's blog!! said...

To anti-Chinese... oi what's up?

By the way, your statement:

"No wonder you cannot understand the logic of treating the 4 subjects equally in PSLE."

AC you are incorrect. The four subjects were not treated equally: English and Chinese were double-weighted. That was how my fellow student who scored distinctions for English and Chinese - but just passes in Math and Science - got streamed to Express (in 1981) Whereas I scored As for Math Science - and a B for English, and a fail for Mandarin got streamed to N.

I just don't agree that children should have been streamed at such a young age - just because they didn't do so well in one particular language - English or Mandarin.

Anonymous said...

Don't blame the language for not doing well.

When there's a will, there's a way.


Anonymous said...


I disagree. Some people are just wired in the brain for certain languages. Some can learn many langauges. There is no such thing as blaming yourself for not able to master a language, some level of proficiency yes, but not everyone is a linguist. So your comment is really useless and meaningless.

Tee said...

If much can be said about talented being unnecessarily hindered by poor chinese, then what about other intelligent people who got sidelined because of poor english??

It's no use getting 8 A1s when ur English is a can't land u in a top JC. And it's no use getting A's for sciences and maths when ur GP is a D7 or E8.

I mean...why should intelligent people be discriminated at all just because of poor command of a certain language? There are some intelligent pple (with IQ much higher than the average Joe) out there being dumped into EM3 and ITE just because of their unfavourable background and they're severely disadvantaged in learning english, ultimately hindering all the other subjects.

Tee said...

Oh btw...i got C5 for my English in my Os, and it's *game over* in the L1R5 game even though i scored all As for the rest of my 7 subjects except chinese.

And C5 for Chinese in my As (with B4 for GP)..

Indeed chinese teachers and the teaching sux...but it's still no reason to degrade a language cos of stupid system and people.

- Someone who prefers to speak and chinese but read in english...

Tee said...

I meant *speak IN chinese*, not 'speak and chinese'...

pennythots said...

I agree with the people who point out that the requirement of a pass in chinese to enter the university is no different from requiring a pass in any other subject such as English etc.

If, for example, a pass in physics (at A levels) is an entry requirement to do various engineering courses in the university, wouldn't one have to pass it?

As another example (where the A level subject has no correlation to the course), a pass in mathematics (at A levels) is a requirement to do law. Wouldn't one have to pass it?

How hard is it to PASS a course you have to take? Did we all fail moral education/ social studies/PE, in which some of us had absolutely no interest in? Just get a pass, no one's forcing you to try and get an "A" against your natural biological weakness in mastering 2 languages.

The issue of how other people make you feel stupid if you fail a particular subject is slightly different - then again, you really shouldn't be failing to PASS a subject. It's only 50 marks.

Don't whine if you fail to do the minimum, when the rules are clearly set out to you since day one of your education - PASS IT. It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

From XCS:

Hey, I think the problem is the govt making it such a fuss about passing Chinese being conditional to you guys getting anywhere worthwhile educationally in your next step to train for a career.

Has anyone any stats about failures in Chinese as compared to all other subjects. That could help explain why so many people failed in it -and the explanation is that: it's a tough language to master in the midst of tackling other subjects, esp. English which you must become proficient in in order to understand ALL the rest of your schooling; the teaching format and method is one that is completely deficient, viv a vis the competing academic, practcal, societal, customary, economic and other environment that exist here. Speaking mandarin is simply uncool, no matter how the govt wishes it to be otherwise. The fact is, nothing short of a near total immersion for long long periods can you be proficient. A lowering of demands/expectations a la in testing and standard in no way make it any easier to acquire REAL proficiency - don't believe? ask ANY chinese national what they honesty think about or Mandarin competency. Probably 95% will tell you it sucks!

playtime said...

I have no problems communicating in english or mandarine. BUT ... my mother tongue is Hokkien la and I'm good at it too... so how? Many people in their 30s are tri-lingual too.

So when youngsters these days complain - actually boasting -about them being monolingual (usually english) I really dont have much sympathy for them.
Yet, is it society's fault or our educatin system that created these monolingual students?

Not XCS said...

"XCS" (March 11, 2007 3:38 PM) is grossly, shockingly and sadly* out of touch with reality!

See "To make Chinese language the scapegoat" (March 9, 2007 2:40 PM) for some true stats. I can give u some stats off-hand too: National PSLE A and A* for Chinese: 80%!!! A and A* for English: <45%

Hopefully, the above stats can knock some sense into the "XCS" type when they said:
> Has anyone any stats about failures in Chinese as compared to all other subjects. That could help explain why so many people failed in it -and the explanation is that: it's a tough language to master

*sadly - many of our elite policy makeres happens to belong "XCS": out of touch with reality on the ground!