Updated: 01/08/2014 02:16

MOE kindergarten encourages bilingualism through curriculum

MOE kindergarten encourages bilingualism through curriculum

The new government-run kindergartens place a special emphasis on bilingualism - and it's apparent through their curriculum. 

Each day, one hour in each four-hour session is set aside for Mother Tongue lessons. 

Another 40 minutes goes to English lessons. 

The news desk goes back to school to find out more. 

Little Nurul Aniqa Mohammed Nasir has just turned five. 

Her classmates celebrate with a rousing rendition of the birthday song - thrice. 

First in English, next in Mandarin, and finally in Malay. 

It may just be a birthday song but over at this MOE kindergarten in Tampines, teachers make use of every opportunity to strengthen their charges' language skills. 

Centre Head Doris Ong shares more. 

"We want the children to be exposed to the Mother Tongue language every day, on a frequent basis. Hopefully they can acquire the language skills through a very interactive way. For us, we look into not so much the academic part but we look into how children can learn in a more interactive way, through story, music and movement. You can see the labelling. We don't just expose to English. We also can have English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil words."

During a visit to the kindergarten, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said he hopes that children will find learning more authentic and engaging this way. 

The best way to build a strong foundation for bilingualism, he says, is to encourage children to speak and listen. 

This can be done during playtime. 

"At this age, play is a very important way to learn. As adults, we may not realise it but a number of studies on child development have shown that play is a very integral part of learning at this age. So I'll like to encourage parents to get your kids to play in various ways. It'll help them to develop in many different ways, which we might not expect."
Mr Heng adds that parents, too, have a role to play in education.
He says the more familiar they are with the learning process, the more effective they will be in helping their children learn. 

His ministry rolled out five new kindergartens this year. 

One of them's the Tampines branch, which is sited at a void deck on Street 45. 

Over at Tampines, four teachers cater to 31 children across the morning and afternoon sessions. 

At full capacity, the kindergarten can take 160 students. 

Another five kindergartens will be rolled out in 2015. 

And come 2016, there will be 15 government-run kindergartens in total. 

-By Valerie Koh

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