Old school

When I attended primary school in the late 1980s, school teachers recommended pupils to buy, in addition to the standard curriculum, an English language guidebook in softcover called ‘Primary English’.

I thought it was one of the best to have come out of our English education system.

I remember reading it every other day for leisure, along with an old English dictionary belonging to Mama, and had learnt by heart the numerous proverbs, idioms and phrases contained in it.

It helped that I was an English nerd but really, when it comes to learning the myriad ‘exceptions to the rule’ in our language, there is no other way except Old-School rote-learning.

England since the 1960s, to their detriment, has all but ditched its traditional teaching of English grammar in its schools. The empirical data from England speak for themselves. It is now a cliche that a person who speaks and writes English as a foreign or secondary language tends to have a higher proficiency in it than the average native user.

Singapore appears to be heading the way of England when MOE dumped grammar drills for ‘functional literacy’. Should it be a cause for concern? I don’t know. It seems that I have to trust the ‘experts’ on this one.


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