Latest census show more younger Singaporeans speaking English at home


The latest census has shown that more younger Singaporeans speak English at home now compared to 10 years ago. 

This has raised concerns about the impact on learning mother tongue in schools. 

Mr Naim Daipi is a retired malay teacher who has taught for some 40 years. 

And he concurs with the census that there has been a significant shift with more Malay families using English at home. 

Among Malays aged between 5 and 14 years, 26% use English now compared to 9.4% ten years ago. 

Mr Naim who's also a member of the Malay Language Council says it's clear that teachers have their work cut out for them to ensure standards in the Malay language don't deteriorate. 

"The students will find it difficult to learn the malay language and the teachers, also difficult to teach malay language to them.Because their vocabulary is very weak not so strong and they are not confident to speak malay language."

But he says these can be tackled with a targeted approach - such as providing different learning materials to help weaker students. 

More interactive resources too should be made available to teachers. 

"Teachers should apply good pedagogy, in the classroom good material in the classroom to let them enjoy learning. And the teachers also enjoy theor teaching."

Chinese families too face similar challenges with Mandarin. 

Among Chinese between 5 and 14, the usage of English at home jumped from 36% in 2000 to 52% in 2010. 

But for Dilys Chung, a mother of two, it's all about creating the right environment at home for her children to stay in touch with Chinese : 

"We speak english at home and sometimes i do speak mandarin with them. Especially when their examinations are coming, i will tend to speak more mandarin to them like for their oral."

And she says schools too should be giving more emphasis to oral lessons. 

While the use of Mandarin in homes for those above 5 years old has also gone up by about 3%, this has been at the expense of dialects.
The use of dialects has almost halved with just 19% using it at home now compared to 30% a decade ago. 

- By Hetty Musfirah