updated 1 Jan 2012, 19:41
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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
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Pre-schoolers to get bilingual fund
by Gwendolyn Ng

To help Singaporeans master English and their mother tongues from a young age, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew proposed raising $100 million for a new bilingualism fund for pre-schoolers.

To be administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism will spearhead initiatives to teach the languages to children aged four to six and who are in nursery or kindergarten.

Mr Lee was addressing more than 650 guests at the launch of his new book, My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore's Bilingualism Journey, at the Singapore Conference Hall.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat was among the guests at the event.

Drawing from his own experience, Mr Lee said it was tough learning the Chinese language as an adult.

"I did not then know that, to learn languages, the best time is when you are a child. Then you can be exposed to one, two or more languages," he said.

He added that studies have shown that the first few years of life are "the most absorptive period of the mind for learning languages".

"If children start early enough, from Kindergarten 1 or even at nursery, by Primary 6 they will be bilingual, with a strong foundation in the mother tongue, a foundation for life," he said.

To kick-start the fund, Mr Lee will donate $12 million, including $2 million from the proceeds of the signed copies of his new book.

Others who will donate include property tycoon Philip Ng, who pledged $5 million. The Government will match the contributions up to $50 million.

Mr Heng told reporters later that the bilingualism fund will help enhance the teaching of English and mother tongues at the pre-school level, such as by funding the training of teachers and the development of learning materials.

"We want to make the learning of mother-tongue languages interactive and fun. This is an important way of engaging students, especially in their pre-school years," he said.

The English edition of Mr Lee's book is published by The Straits Times Press, and the Chinese edition by Lianhe Zaobao.

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readers' comments
Yay, bilingual! Now everyone can speak english and their mother tongue! Oh wait, everyone can do that already :O
Posted by duntalktome on Wed, 30 Nov 2011 at 08:44 AM
if is go to FT then there has to be a reason, because singapore lang do not use it.....

last time recession, gah men will come out with training fund, singapore lang for some reasons, i have a feeling only, they don't use it, but foreigner who come here, if PR, they sure grab this opportunity
Posted by jameslee58 on Wed, 30 Nov 2011 at 01:43 AM
Me, Justice Bao will also donate $12 million from the proceeds of the signed copies of his new Baoble :D:p
Posted by baoxingtian on Wed, 30 Nov 2011 at 01:03 AM
YUP!!!....$12 million will only goes to we sporeans are trilingual from birth!!!
Posted by hehehehahaha on Tue, 29 Nov 2011 at 21:31 PM
I can only see those FTs and their kids benefitting and laughing at us. Better help ourselves and don't depend on them. Anyway, kids are our problem right? Go to the poorer ones please.
Posted by mystrawberry on Tue, 29 Nov 2011 at 21:13 PM

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