In the CLC Programme, classroom-based language learning is complemented by real-life exchanges with Chinese students and teachers.
When Goh Wan Ting was in primary school, she was nearly bored to tears by the arduous task of learning and remembering countless complicated Chinese characters.
But ask her about learning Chinese Language today, and the Sec 3 student at Nanyang Girls' High School will tell you a different tale. Thanks to the school's innovative Chinese Language and Culture (CLC) programme, her view of the subject has changed completely.
"Through the CLC programme, I have developed a greater interest in the subject," shares Wan Tin. "It's often interesting and enriching to learn more about Chinese culture."
Tiered programme caters to different needs
A flagship initiative of Nanyang Girls' High School, the CLC Programme aims to equip students with a strong grounding in Chinese language and culture, as well as stimulate their curiosity by exposing them to various facets of life in East Asia, particularly China. The programme consists of a 4-tiered classroom-based Chinese Language and Culture curriculum and a China Immersion Programme for Sec 3 students.
Lower secondary students start off by building a firm foundation in the Chinese language. Next, the teachers introduce them to significant milestones in Chinese history, literature and culture to broaden their cultural knowledge.
Students attended the first Singapore-Shanghai Student Forum in Shanghai last November.
When they enter upper secondary, the students get to explore in greater depth diverse topics such as Chinese contemporary history and culture, Chinese philosophy as well as current social, political and economic issues facing the country.
"To enhance the learning and appreciation for the Chinese language and culture, the students are grouped into different tiers," explains Mdm Tee Siew Cheng, teacher and the school's Curriculum Director of Chinese Language and Culture.
The curriculum designed for each tier is tailored to meet the students' level of comfort and interest with the subject. For instance, tier 1 and 2 students study various concepts in Confucianism, Taoism and The Art of War by Sunzi, whereas tier 3 and 4 students focus on the 36 Strategies of The Art of War. The CLC Programme is conducted once a week for an hour each time.
Immersion programme for real life interactions
The China Immersion Programme complements the classroom-based curriculum by providing an invaluable opportunity to see China up close and personal. Featuring interactive sessions and forums in both Singapore and China, this component emerged from the belief that a deeper understanding of the Chinese language and culture is possible only when knowledge is "complemented with meaningful experiential learning."
Nanyang Girls High School students interacting with their Chinese peers during the second Singapore-Shanghai Student Forum.
Students are given the chance to gain firsthand knowledge of Chinese culture by interacting with fellow students, teachers and professors from some of China's top schools and universities. Thanks to a wide network of industry partners, students also get to visit Chinese companies as well as learn from Singaporean entrepreneurs and professionals working in China.
It's not just about business either - the school also invites Chinese students active in community and social work to share their experiences and discuss how their Singapore counterparts could help in these efforts.
Giving more details of the immersion programme, Mdm Tee says, "Tier 1 students will get to attend lectures at top Chinese universities in Shanghai and Beijing that are specially tailored for them. These lectures cover a range of topics including language, culture, economy and philosophy. Students from tier 2 to tier 4 will attend lessons at local secondary schools and some of the programme could be more hands-on, such as learning Chinese dance and painting."
One major highlight was the inaugural Singapore-Shanghai Student Forum, which was held in the Chinese metropolis last November. For the participants, it was a perfect platform for intellectual exchanges between students and educators from both cities. The forum was so successful that a second Singapore-Shanghai Student Forum followed at Nanyang Girls' High School this July.
Undoubtedly, the CLC Programme has ignited the interest and passion for Chinese Language and culture in many students.
Sec 4 student Kek Chin Wen reflects on what she has learnt through the programme. "I had thought that the topics will be dry and boring," she quipped. "On the contrary, the teacher was able to engage us through interesting ways of teaching, and the China Immersion gave us the platform to put what we've learnt into practice and deepened our understanding. All these really ignited my interest in learning about Chinese culture."