Never too late to love Mandarin

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Looking at Minister Lui Tuck Yew speaking fluent Mandarin to a rapt audience, it is easy to forget his past...

Chinese education for kids

Never too late to learn mandarin

A former student from Anglo Chinese School, Minister Lui grew up in an English speaking household. The fact that the Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign was not adept in Mandarin, did not bother him, until he had to start helping his younger daughter with her Chinese homework. “I had to keep turning to a dictionary and my iPhone as an aide to help my daughter,” he shared.  Since then, he has been taking Chinese lessons once a week for more than the past two years, and “it is still a weekly struggle”. Speaking yesterday as a Guest-of-Honour at the launch of the 32nd Speak Mandarin Campaign, Mr. Lui urged non-Mandarin speaking Chinese parents to keep the language thriving by speaking it well and having a fun and adventurous attitude about it.  He expressed his understanding on the difficulties and challenges of using the language, and urged these parents “not to give up”, adding that he is living proof that it can be done.  He added that he still regrets not speaking Mandarin actively with his two daughters earlier in their lives. “If I were to start all over again, I would probably use more Mandarin at home.” The theme for this year’s Speak Mandarin Campaign is “Mandarin, it gets better with use” The campaign will run theme- song and short-film competitions, and also use innovative online resources to promote the use of the language. As a parting advice to parents, Minister Lui  suggested that parents use any possible medium to teach their kids to love Mandarin, be it through the newspapers, comic books or even TV shows. “Chinese programmes on television and…on the radio… are very useful, practical ways of learning by osmosis,” he said. And while he learnt the beauty of Mandarin late in life, it is “better late than never.”

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Written by

Sandra Ong