I was coaching J in Chinese last week and am very sure that Howard Gardner was right in proposing his theory of multiple intelligences. Some people are predisposed to certain domains while being lacking in others.
As I have mentioned before, J grasps math concepts pretty quickly, yet he forgets how a Chinese word is read in a matter of seconds. We have been going to the SEA aquarium often and I have told him that the aquarium is 水族馆 in Chinese. On our latest visit, which was very recent, I saw that the translation given by RWS is 海洋馆 and told him so. During his oral exam, he told his teacher that he has been to 胜淘沙的鱼园. I almost fainted.
In the school's oral notes, the students were told to decide on a pronunciation for a word they do not know. The advice given was to 有边读边，没边读上下 . When J read the word 烤箱, he pronounced it as 烤木 because he recognised the 木 in the word 箱! 一盘面 was read as 一船面，because 盘 shares a similar character with 船. I have to pray hard for him whenever he has a Chinese exam.
I have read this suggestion from parents which I think should be seriously considered: Calculate each student's PSLE aggregate with and without Mother Tongue (MT) and take the higher of the two scores into consideration when streaming. This will please those who are strong in MT and also cater to those who do well in other subjects but have no aptitude or little home exposure to the MT language. Those who are strong in three subjects but very weak in MT will not be denied of a chance to get into their schools of choice because of a second language. However, in order to still maintain a certain proficiency in MT, a caveat can be imposed: the student needs to get at least a B grade at PSLE in order to take MT at the express level in secondary school.
Do you agree?