FOR about five minutes yesterday, girlish voices repeating "tsek, no, sa", or "one, two, three" in Teochew, could be heard inside the hall at CHIJ (Kellock) Primary School.
About 300 girls at the school in Bukit Teresa were learning to recite nursery rhymes and count in the five major Chinese dialects in Singapore - Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka and Hainanese.
It was part of an enrichment programme organised by Trendsen Cultural Enterprise, which provides more than 50 courses to schools, including Chinese painting and tea art.
The course is being introduced as part of the SG50 celebrations to mark the 50th birthday of the Republic.
The firm said it was the first time it introduced the dialect programme to a school.
Marketing manager Wendy Sim, 41, said: "It is important for the kids to know their roots.
The activities help them to learn about one's culture in an interesting and fun way."
Preparations for the two-day programme, which ends today, started last year, she said, with many of the artefacts, including an exquisitely engraved Teochew woodcarving, contributed by pioneers.
Yesterday, Primary 3 and 4 pupils spent 30 minutes at each of the booths for the five dialects.
They also learnt about the handicraft, customs, games and food specific to each dialect.
Said Yan Yutong, 10: "The lessons are interesting and help us to remember where our forefathers came from."
Trisha-Ann Tan, 10, said she now has a better understanding of not only her dialect group, Teochew, but also other dialect groups.
"I got to learn about my culture and the food my forefathers came up with and the games they played," she said.
"The activities also helped me understand other cultures."
This article was first published on Feb 6, 2015.
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