Chinese is one of the four official languages of Singapore along with English, Malay and Tamil. It is today considered to be the second most commonly spoken language in Singapore, after English. The push for bilingualism has been one of the fundamental features of Singapore’s education system since the creation of the nation (Goh & Gopinathan, 2008).
Our school has a distinctive Chinese program that allows students to integrate Mandarin into the children’s daily lives. The integration of the Chinese program will equip students with the requisite skills to communicate in fluent Chinese and write Chinese characters upon graduation. Children who are exposed early to other languages display more positive attitudes to the cultures associated with those languages. The experience of learning a language introduces them to the world in ways they might otherwise have not experienced.
Furthermore, research shows that learning a second language boosts problem-solving, critical-thinking, and listening skills, in addition to improving memory, concentration, and the ability to multitask. Children proficient in other languages also show signs of enhanced creativity and mental flexibility.
Contrary to popular belief, young children are not confused by the introduction of multiple languages at the same time. Not only do they naturally navigate multilingual environments, but acquiring a second language early in life primes the brain to learn multiple other languages, opening a world of opportunities for later on.