How can Mother Tongue Languages like the Chinese language remain a 'living language' so that students are comfortable using it in a real-life context?
Over 70 Primary Four students were challenged to package and market donated stationery items and books at the 'My Dream Shop' competition held in New Town Primary School on 19 July 2013.
The Chinese language department in New Town Primary School decided to pair this purpose with the 'My Dream Shop' (????) competition. Started in 2005 and initially a school-based initiative, the competition provides students the opportunity to practise their Mandarin in an authentic situation, while getting hands-on experience in entrepreneurship.
Developing an Innovative Spirit in Young Minds
Eight years later, the competition has soared to greater heights and is now an inter-school competition held annually. In collaboration with Jurong Spring Community Club's Youth Executive Committee and funded by POSB Passion Kids Fund, over 70 Primary Four students from schools such as New Town Primary, Pei Tong Primary, Blangah Rise Primary, Queenstown Primary, Fairfield Methodist (Primary), Cantonment Primary and Shuqun Primary were challenged to package and sell donated stationery items and books at a competition held at New Town Primary School on 19 July.
Not only did the competition promote innovative entrepreneurial skills, it also benefited over 170 financially needy students from the schools that were involved.
Students under the Financial Assistance Scheme from the various schools were assigned the role of a 'buyer' and given $20 worth of 'pretend money' each to purchase items such as stationery and books, which were donated by the competition's sponsors. Primary Four students who were acting as 'sellers' were given five minutes to promote their goods and 20 minutes to sell their items to 'buyers' - all done in Mandarin. Stalls had to compete with one other in terms of their sales pitch and sales revenue, to determine the winner.
Six students from '????' (New Town Pri) emerged victorious in the 'My Dream Shop' (????) competition 2013. Their experience has boosted their confidence in public speaking, and sparked their interest in entrepreneurship.
'Through the competition, students were given opportunities to experience challenges in doing business, converse in proper Mandarin and learn to care for and help their peers who are less fortunate. Students enjoyed the challenge and were inspired to learn more Mandarin phrases after that. It was also heartening to see financially needy students benefiting as they get to keep $20 worth of stationery and books for themselves,' said Ms Ang Shiao Woon, a teacher in New Town Primary.
Incidentally, New Town Primary School took the first and second spots, while Queenstown Primary School was second runner-up.
"The competition has improved our public speaking skills and helped us gain confidence in speaking Mandarin. We also learnt how to brainstorm as a team to market the products, and are extremely elated to clinch the top prize in the competition," said Valerie Lim Jia Xuan, a Primary Four student from New Town Primary School.
Entrepreneurship Goes Big in New Town Primary
The competition was conducted in Mandarin, and preparing for the competition familiarises 'sellers' on how to grapple with sales pitches in the language.
New Town Primary School hopes to expand the innovative programme to include other Mother Tongue Languages so that more students would be able to benefit from the enriching experience. The 'My Dream Shop' competition has gained much popularity within the community, such that the Malay language department in the school has adapted ideas from the competition and will be organising an inter-school challenge later this year for its Malay language students.
'Students are very excited about the competition, and this has driven us to think about how we can further develop the spirit of entrepreneurship in the school. This year, an Innovation & Enterprise Club has been established so that students can be exposed to and prepare for the competition,' said Ms Ang.