Singapore Uniquely Singapore Others Speak Good English Movement


Speak Good English Movement

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Jian Qiang
Listing created by Jian Qiang on January 11, 2014    

In view of the rise of Singlish, a mixture of mandarin and english used by Singaporeans, the Singapore government grew increasingly concerned about the neglect of the use of standard English by Singaporeans in the last decade. Since 2000, the Speak Good English Campaign was launched annually with year-long activities held islandwide to promote the use of good english among Singaporeans, often with a different theme each year.


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User rating summary from: 3 user(s)

We Speak our own language.

I love how this campaign was started in order to tackle the Singlish plague that has taken root and started to multiply exponentially.

I still remember that in accordance to this campaign, many posters were put up in my school in hopes of correcting the slipshod English and grammar that was applied to daily life. The posters were always funny - they placed two sentences on top of one another - one was in horrible English (Singlish) with a cross at the side, while the other was the grammatically correct one with a little tick to the right. My friends and I never failed to laugh at the horrible standard of English that was exaggerated in the posters. Despite the fact that it might not have been relevant to the students in NJC, many of the examples that were marked wrong by the posters were actually common phrases that were used by many lazy Singaporeans.

It is no wonder that we have to have this campaign. We become so lazy and slipshod with the nuance of the English language that we now speak our own language, Singlish. It is also no wonder that foreigners fail to understand what we say.

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Room for thought

I felt that the Speak Good English Movement was one conceived out of wholly good intentions. With the rise of Singlish (A eclectic blend of standard English and derivatives from Hokkien dialects), the government was concerned that in a world where English is the premium passport across the different countries, the rise of Singlish may impede our competitiveness and in working with business partners. It is indeed important to speak good english in this context, such that we are better able to communicate well with people from other countries.

I participated in a few campaigns over the years and I must comment that though well conceived, the implementation was mediocre. The speeches, materials, videos, while bringing across the importance of speaking proper English, do not appeal strongly enough. It was just enough to penetrate the surface and it can easily be seen that the organisers merely see it as a job since there was no sincerity in bringing the message across.

Moreover, in a country that is so cosmopolitan that theres precious few things we could call our own, Singlish is uniquely Singaporean. Hence, this comes into conflict with the Campaign. Whilst good english should be promoted, this should not come at the expense of destruction of local heritage. There should be a balancing act set in place.

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Good idea but could be improved

I think the Speak Good English Movement has a good goal - to ensure that Singaporeans do not lose touch of Standard English so that we can maintain relationships with non-Singaporeans and others who are not familiar with Singlish. However, I do feel that the movement somehow seems to discourage the use of Singlish among Singaporeans, although Singlish is an integral part of our Singaporean culture.

Having said that, I do concede that it is pretty difficult to encourage Singaporeans to be able to speak Standard English, while not putting Singlish in a bad light at the same time. I think that what should be promoted should be the ability to switch between Standard English and Singlish, instead of the use of Standard English over Singlish.

Overall I feel that this movement has a good aim, just that its message is often put across in a way that makes Singlish seem "bad" and should not be used. I think that it would be the best if we Singaporeans are effortlessly able to switch between Singlish and Standard English, depending on who we speak to.

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