It takes a great man to admit his mistakes and it takes an even greater man to admit his mistakes to the whole world but unfortunately for, I dare say a fair bit of us at the tail end of the baby boomer generation, it is a bit too little too late.
I am referring of course to our elder statesman admission of his mistakes in pushing through the method of teaching Chinese in the seventies to the nineties. Especially galling is the insistence on a pass in Chinese before the student can move on to the next higher level of education. I know of many people and heard of even more bright students who did well in every subject except Chinese and had to go overseas to further their studies. But these are the lucky one whose parents can afford to send them overseas. What about the countless other not so well off students who had to cease their studies because of some silly policy?
My personal experience with Chinese had been so bad that to this day I cannot for the life of me remember the name of a single Chinese teacher who had taught me from my primary school days till JC. The only name I can remember? Miss 懂 不懂 caused that was how this particular teacher ended every other sentence. One other thing I remember was how this particular teacher will make the student stand up in class and read out loud from the text book and whenever the student stumbled or mispronounced a word, she will sarcastically correct it while the rest of the class snickered at the poor reader standing there in humiliation. And more often than not, she loves to pick only a selected few – me being one of the unlucky one. Maybe she enjoyed the laughter I gave to the class or maybe she was genuinely trying to help the weaker students, I will never know.
I managed by the grace of God to scrap through my O level and went on to JC but faltered at that level thus ending my studies for good. To this day, I get by with I hope passable conversational Chinese but I can’t read and I can’t write (at least not the cheem words) Chinese and have to rely on colleagues for translation whenever I need to read or translate some Chinese stuff.
So let’s know the educators out there can now do something so that the current and future students will indeed enjoy learning Chinese.