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New Post 18.03.2009 10:37
  shuai
1199 posts
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Mandarin starts at home 

Mandarin starts at home

MM Lee urges Chinese parents to speak to children in Mandarin

By Kor Kian Beng, Political Correspondent
mandarin
Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew launching the 2009 Speak Mandarin Campaign yesterday. With him is Ms Lim Sau Hoong, chairman of the Promote Mandarin Council. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
THREE decades ago, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew launched the Speak Mandarin Campaign to get Chinese Singaporeans to use Mandarin instead of dialects.

Yesterday, he made a new call to the Chinese community: Speak Mandarin with your children if you can, instead of using English.

The reason? Parents who speak Mandarin to their children at home will help lay the foundation for them to master the language later in life, he said.

Speaking at the campaign's 30th anniversary launch at the NTUC Centre, he assured parents that speaking Mandarin at home will not jeopardise their children's ability to master English in Singapore's predominantly English-speaking society.

He said: 'If you want your children to master Mandarin, speak to them in Mandarin. Don't worry about them learning English.

'They will pick it up in schools, they will meet friends and take exams in English. They will master English.'

Shown at the event yesterday were several TV commercials which will be aired as part of this year's Speak Mandarin campaign. They feature children of Caucasian and African parentage, some as young as two years old, learning to speak Mandarin.

MM Lee said approvingly: 'That's the age to learn Mandarin.'

He himself learnt the language only when he was 32, unlike his children who learnt it in school.

'They are like a transistor radio, you switch it on and it comes on. Mine is like a old valve radio. I switch on, wait for the valve to warm up, then it flows,' he said, to laughter from the audience.


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