Singapore’s latest census report suggests that more households are turning to English as their preferred language of communication.
The statistics as released by the Department of Statistics (DOS) state that “among residents aged five and above in 2020, 48.3 per cent spoke English most frequently at home. This is up from 32.3 per cent in 2010.”
These figures highlight that most parents in the little red dot are increasingly focussed on speaking English at home.
Singaporeans Want Their Children To Speak In English At Home
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The trend of the use of English at home was observed across all major ethnic groups. Correspondingly, the use of Mandarin, Chinese dialects, Malay and Tamil lost ground, according to a report on CNA.
For the Chinese ethnic group
- English overtook Mandarin as the most used language at home – with a proportion of 47.6 per cent in 2020, up from 32.6 per cent in 2010.
- The use of Mandarin as the predominant language fell to 40.2 per cent in 2020. This is down from 47.7 per cent a decade before.
- Chinese dialects only accounted for 11.8 per cent of responses, and was down from 19.2 per cent in 2010.
For the Malay ethnic group
- A majority still spoke the Malay language most frequently at home in 2020. The DOS however said that at 60.7 per cent, this was lower than the 82.7 per cent recorded in 2010.
- The proportion who used English most frequently was up to 39 per cent in 2020. This is more than double the 17 per cent from a decade before.
For the Indian Ethnic group
- In this group, those who spoke English most frequently continued to form the majority at 59.2 per cent.
- After English, Tamil or other Indian languages were the second most frequently spoken language in Singapore.
Younger population uses English more commonly
The DOS further noted that the use of English was more common among the younger population as compared to the older population.
- For Chinese residents, for instance, nearly eight in 10 of those aged between five and 14 used English the most at home in 2020. This is compared to about three in 10 elderly residents – aged 55 and over – who did the same.
- A similar trend was also seen among the Malays. About six in 10 of young residents spoke English the most, compared to fewer than two in 10 for the elderly.
- This gap was narrower for the Indian ethnic group. About seven in 10 of the young residents used English the most at home, while half of the elderly residents did so.
Those who received higher education were more likely to use English
It was further seen that residents with higher qualifications were more likely to use English the most frequently at home.
For instance, among Singapore residents aged 15 and above with university degrees, English was the most-used language at home for about six in 10 of the Chinese, Malays and Indians in 2020.
The DOS mentioned that the figure fell among those with below secondary qualifications. It was one in 10 for the Chinese and Malays, and about three in 10 for Indians.
So, the survey clearly revealed that from 2010 and 2020, the use of English grew across all age groups for all ethnic groups.
As parents, you may want your child to learn and speak in English at home too. And this is clear from actual numbers as well. But if you don’t know how to start, here are some practical ways to go about it.
How To Teach Child English At Home: 5 Helpful Tips For Parents
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1. Start with a picture book
Younger children love bright-coloured picture books. You can use these to teach them the alphabets, names of animals, fruits, vegetables and so on. For instance, you can point towards a cauliflower in the book and tell them “this is a cauliflower” first. Then ask them to find it from the vegetable tray and place it in front of you. This exercise will be fun and it will help them to memorise well.
2. Use relatable stories
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Reading short stories is an effective way of teaching your child English. It helps them learn the language as well as develop listening and reading skills.
Animated stories are an excellent way for children to develop listening and reading skills. For older kids, encourage them to read novels. This will help them increase their vocabulary in the process too.
3. Use songs or rhymes
Kids are often attracted to songs and rhymes. There are several such video songs and rhymes available on YouTube and on other platforms. Most of these videos use actions that demonstrate the meaning of the song/rhyme.
They are extremely useful if you want your kids to learn the actions, and it helps them understand the meaning of the song.
4. Play learning games
Depending on the age of your kid, you can play games with your kids to help them learn English faster. For instance, use of flashcards, and games like scrabble to introduce them to new words and help them practice.
5. Have a set routine
You should establish and set a routine for your child to practice English at home. It is always better to have short, frequent sessions as the attention span is low.
To start with, 15 minutes a day is enough if your kid is young. You can increase this time, as they progress and their attention span starts to increase. Remember, whenever you are planning any activity for your child, always keep it short. Beyond this time, they won’t be able to focus their energy and will start losing interest.
You can also infuse English speaking in your regular routine activities such as reading bedtime stories.
At the end of the day, repetition is essential to help them grasp better. Children often need to hear the words and phrases many times before they feel confident enough to use them. So, to help your child get used to the “English language time,” use the same phrases more than once or twice a day. The more they practice, the better hold they will have over the language.
You may choose an approach that best reflects your parenting style. But the most important thing is to help your child have fun and make English learning an enjoyable experience.
News source: CNA
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