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Changes to teaching of Chinese in schools from 2006


Government Accepts Recommendations for a More Flexible and Customised Chinese Language Curriculum

The Government has accepted the recommendations proposed by the Chinese Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee, chaired by Mr Wee Heng Tin, former Director-General of Education.

The Committee has recommended a Chinese Language (CL) curriculum designed to enthuse all CL students and develop in them an abiding interest in the Chinese language and culture.

This will be achieved through more customisation and flexibility at the primary level. Further, greater emphasis will be placed on oral fluency and on reading for the majority of students, while developing stronger competence in the Chinese language and culture for those with the ability and interest.

The Committee was set up in February 2004 to articulate the objectives and target groups of the various CL syllabuses, and to review the structure, curriculum content, pedagogy and assessment methods used in CL teaching and learning today. The Committee comprised school leaders, Heads of Department in CL, and academics. See Annex for the list of Committee members.

In drawing up its recommendations, the Committee examined the language trends and future demand on CL users in both local and global contexts. It took into consideration the feedback and views from various stakeholders through public consultations and dialogue sessions, with primary, secondary and junior college students, teachers, school leaders, parents, academics, teachers unions and Chinese Community Organisations.

The Committee also drew insights from a comprehensive survey of about 10,000 participants1, school visits, and observations by a team of overseas consultants from China and Hong Kong.


CL Curriculum Objectives

The CL curriculum objectives will be more differentiated to suit the wide range of CL students.

Customisation & Flexibility at Primary Level

The primary level curriculum will be structured according to a modular approach. The modular approach will give students who enter school with little exposure to CL additional support in the early primary years to help them catch up. It will also allow those with the background or ability in CL to go further.

At the secondary level, the Committee considered the current structure of the five CL syllabuses and found that these adequately cater to the needs of a range of CL learners2. This level of differentiation should be maintained.

More Emphasis on Oral Communication & Reading for Majority

There will be a retuning of the relative emphases of the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing).

For the majority of students, there will be a greater emphasis on developing fluency and confidence in oral communication, and early proficiency in character recognition and reading. The emphasis on these practical skills will enable students to use CL more frequently, and thereby sustain their interest in the language.

Engaging & Relevant Materials & IT Resources

Textbook writers will have more flexibility to produce texts that are engaging and relevant to the interests and experience of students. Schools will leverage more on IT in the teaching of CL and students will have greater access to IT tools that facilitate character writing.

Assessing Students' Ability to Use CL in Context

In line with the revised curriculum objectives, MOE will revise its examination formats to assess students on their use of CL in context, rather than through the recall of individual words and phrases.

Strengthening Training & Recruitment of CL Teachers

MOE will review its pre- and in-service training curriculum to ensure that teachers are well-equipped to deliver the revised curriculum. To meet the anticipated increase in demand for CL teachers, particularly at the primary level when the modular approach is implemented, MOE will step up recruitment of CL teachers from both local and foreign sources.

More Opportunities to Use CL in the School Context

MOE will give schools, in particular SAP schools, some flexibility to provide students who can benefit from greater CL immersion, more exposure to the language.

Community Involvement

MOE and schools will continue to collaborate with the community and media organisations to create an environment conducive for students to use and practise CL.

See Box 1 for the revised CL curriculum objectives, Box 2 for specific details on key recommendations, and Box 3 for the implementation timeline.

The Government has accepted the Committee’s recommendations. The Minister for Education will table a White Paper on the Report for debate in Parliament in November 2004.


[1] Conducted by Forbes Research Ltd.

[2] These are Basic CL, CL ‘B’, CL Normal(Academic), CL, and HCL syllabuses. For example, a student in the Express stream may offer CL, HCL, or the CL ‘B’ syllabus.

Source: Ministry of Education Press Release 15 Nov 2004


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16 November 2004