SINGAPORE - Parents should let their children learn both English and the mother tongue from an early age.
This is because Singapore's bilingual policy makes learning difficult, said former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Lee was speaking at a National Day Dinner held at the upgraded Tanjong Pagar Community Club.
He said that psychologists in the US have found that a two- or three-year-old child can be taught multiple languages without being confused. The child will sort out the different words that go with different languages, with different grammar and syntax.
English-educated parents who speak English to their children at home should therefore send their children to a pre-school that is strong in Chinese as early as possible, he said.
And if the child comes from a Chinese-speaking home, he or she should be sent to a pre-school that is strong in English.
Added Mr Lee: "They will sort it out for themselves when they come to the age of six or seven. But the key is to start them off early."
Mr Lee also announced plans for a new pre-school, Hampton@Tanjong Pagar.
The school is a partnership between the PAP Community Foundation and private school operator EtonHouse and will begin operating in January.
It will allow parents in the constituency to send their children to a pre-school that will give them a strong foundation in both English and Chinese.
Hampton@Tanjong Pagar will provide high-quality early childhood programmes at affordable prices to young families.
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