Students in Singapore Still Face Difficulties Learning Chinese as a Mother Tongue

Singaporean Mandarin is a type of Standard Mandarin or simplified Chinese dialect that is used on formal occasions in Singapore and can be heard on radio and television. It is also the Chinese language form taught in all Singapore government schools.

Although Singapore uses an English-based bilingual education system wherein subjects are taught in English as the medium of instruction, students also have to take up a “mother tongue” as a second language. This is because Singapore is a culturally diverse nation that has adopted English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay (for Malays), and Tamil (for ethnically Tamil Indians) as their official languages.

One may assume that anyone growing up in their mother tongue will not find their mother tongue subject difficult. But this is not the case with many young Singaporeans of Chinese ethnicity.

Mother tongue difficulties

Many young ethnic Chinese Singaporeans are growing up to become increasingly proficient English-dominant speakers. But in the process, they find it hard to grasp even colloquial Mandarin (Sindarin). This widening gap becomes even more prominent when English is taught as a first language and children are brought up in English-speaking families.

Thus, from childhood, many do not get to practice speaking, reading, or writing even in simplified Mandarin, with the result that when they take up their Chinese second language subject in the primary and secondary levels, they face many learning problems.

One way for students to overcome the difficulties of learning Chinese Mandarin at school is for parents to seek the professional help of Chinese tuition in Singapore.

The difficulties students face with Learning Chinese

Students since an early age who have been used to English as a first language now face the difficulties of recognising and using the Chinese language in spoken and written form. All the more so when used in tests, examinations, and composition papers.

Students facing chengyu (four-character idioms) and yanyu (spoken language) will find it challenging to memorise words. Because of lack of practice, students fall short in understanding even educational videos or conveying their comprehension clearly during examinations, written or oral. They find even basic pronunciations of words hard, let alone achieving fluency in the language. 

Other urgent difficulties that need to be addressed aside from the above:

  • Confusion working with similar-sounding words.
  • Challenged comprehension since students cannot correctly interpret questions and provide relevant answers.
  • Students have a poor command of the Chinese language and so, cannot fully understand important sentences within their comprehension component.
  • Struggling to produce good essays or even in simple forms like emails.
  • The lack of language command makes it hard for them to write and structure good argumentative paragraphs in examinations.
  • They struggle to understand important points, aspects, and references during listening comprehension components.

Advantages of getting a professional online Chinese tuition Singapore

By having your children undergo Chinese tuition classes, you help them become comfortable in speaking and writing in their proper mother tongue. After all, Chinese is one of the most prominent languages in Singapore and around the world, especially in Asia. Its use in international business marks it as an important language to master to get around in the business world.

An effective tutoring structure – whether one-to-one or online – will help your children to effectively communicate in Chinese and use it even for daily conversations.

Learning Chinese, whether online or physically at home, becomes suitable when you engage with a private tutor. Your children will never worry about A-level Chinese. In Singapore, aside from the required mother tongue subject, students have the option to take up Higher Chinese class in secondary school. They then have the option of no longer taking up Chinese classes at the tertiary level or taking up even higher Chinese.

Starting and learning early with a private tutor will help with a smoother transition and develop basic essential skills like vocabulary, composition, and comprehension. This is important for Chinese examinations since scoring becomes difficult without fluency in both writing and speaking.

A Chinese tutor will always help your children score high grades and equip them with the necessary skills to achieve more and excel.


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You can enjoy online Chinese tuition from the safety and convenience of your home. We can provide Chinese tutors across all districts in Singapore.

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