Language Skills in a Multilingual Society

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Language Skills in a Multilingual Society

Singapore is a multilingual and multicultural society where English Language is predominantly used in school and work. Besides English, which is taught in Singapore schools as a first language, Chinese, Malay and Tamil are also taught at a second language level. These four languages are Singapore’,s official languages. Chinese, Malay and Tamil are also referred to as Mother Tongue languages. Generally, the main medium of instruction in Singapore schools is English apart from the learning of the Mother Tongue Languages. In general, every student in Singapore is required to learn English and his or her Mother Tongue. This paper presents a preliminary exploration of the relationship between students’, performance in speaking and writing in English. Some questions to be explored include: Do students in Singapore who perform well in oral English test also perform well in written English test? Is there a variation in students’, performance in these skills among students whose home language is English or one of the Mother Tongue Languages - Chinese, Malay or Tamil? Findings from this study could be useful in some ways to test developers, curriculum developers and the wider community of educators looking for ways to improve the teaching and learning of language skills in a multilingual society such as Singapore.

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