I fully agree with Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on the importance of exposing children to mother tongue languages at a very young age (DPM Wong: I’ve to make more effort and keep practising to improve my Mandarin, June 4).
From a young age, I have benefited from a Mandarin-speaking home environment, surrounded by Chinese newspapers, Channel 8 TV dramas and programmes, and Chinese pop songs.
These not only got me interested in the Chinese language and content, but also enabled me to appreciate and create content in Chinese now.
I notice that parents nowadays tend to “outsource” the learning of mother tongue languages to schools and tuition centres, the latter mainly for the child to get good grades in school.
However, by the time children enter primary school, learning mother tongue languages might become harder without a proper foundation in their early years.
I understand that parents might feel that their command of the mother tongue may be lacking and would rather leave it to the teachers to conduct proper lessons.
However, I feel that parents should start speaking to their children in their mother tongue, regardless of their level of competence in the language. It would provide a good opportunity for bonding as family members learn and make mistakes together.
Writer: Goh Ying Sheng, co-founder of Vitamin M
*Published on 7 June 2023 in The Straits Times