Complete Immersion into the Singapore Local System for Mandarin… Yes or No?
So many times I have been asked the question:
“We are moving to Singapore for 3 – 5 years, isn’t it best my child goes to local Schools in Singapore to take advantage of the language program?”
Sometimes I have just been privy to the simple statement:
“We’re moving to Singapore and want to take advantage of the opportunity for our children to learn Mandarin so we have decided to place our children in the Schools in Singapore system.”
The responses to both of the above could bore you for hours (as there are so many of them). So in the effort of not boring you I shall simply inform: I advise all parents, whom are positive, that they will return in 5 years to their native shores with children speaking fluent Mandarin to contemplate the following:
1) Speaking Mandarin starts early in Singapore – most commonly in the home / day care centre / preschool. If your child is integrating into a local Primary, and has not been immersed in a bi-lingual Preschool environment or one where Mandarin was spoken widely, be prepared for extra Mandarin tuition to be part of your child’s weekly co-curricular program.
2) The “local” system here in Singapore is a rigorous, highly recognized, all rounded academic program… and it’s not just about language! After school activities during the week and the weekend for your child will no doubt consist of at least one or two additional tuition activities, as well as the funniest sporting, dance, arts and music options.
3) Think about where you are living, radius within a school catchment area is essential… remember as an expatriate, even a PR expatriate, Singapore Citizens comes first and even then placements are competitive. Be prepared to ballot and do community service to get your child in. This year one of the more reputable all Girls Schools in Singapore increased their community service hours from 60 to 80. Gaining placements in the local system is often no easier than gaining places in the International system.
4) How will your child reintegrate into your Country’s national curriculum or the curriculum of choice when you move out of Singapore? Singapore has one of the world’s best reputations for its Math and Science curricula. Will your child be extended or advanced if they are placed in a higher grade than the class average when you move on?
In conclusion, if you have ticked all the boxes and believe your child can academically thrive and be happy with the local system then as Nike would say… Just Do It!
One of the biggest benefits (aside from the great Singapore Curriculum) is the cost. Compared to even the most reasonable International Schools in Singapore, the cost is minimal and for some families with two or three children and no expatriate allowance for schooling, often, local schooling is not a choice but a must! And if it is a must, rest assured it’s a great system!
By Sarah Bowler