The work of teachers in schools can be reinforced for greater effect at home, Minister of State for Education, and Communications and Information Sim Ann said on Saturday.
She called on parents and grandparents to get involved, saying they have an important role to play in shaping children's attitudes and interests in the learning of mother tongue languages - particularly during the kids' early years.
Ms Sim was speaking on the last day of the Mother Tongue Languages Symposium at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. "A simple and inexpensive, yet very powerful strategy that parents and grandparents can adopt is to read to our children regularly," she said, adding that this allows children to pick up the sounds that form the language. "(This) in turn helps them to speak and interact using the language."
She shared with the audience, which included teachers and parents, her own experience of learning Mandarin through storybooks during her childhood. "My mother loved to read to me and my siblings and we loved to climb onto her lap when she came home from work and hear her read from a picture book," she said.
The symposium, now in its second run, serves as a platform for pre-schools, schools, community groups and parents to gather and discuss topics on the subject. Seven teachers were awarded the Outstanding Pre-school Mother Tongue Language Teacher Award there.
It also featured 10 sharing sessions conducted by pre-school experts and teachers. This aimed to help parents get their children interested in learning their mother tongue.
Exhibition booths run by the Education Ministry and schools showcased innovative teaching methods.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.