Phua Chu Kang's English Pre- and Post-BEST classes: A Study on Secondary School Teachers' and Students' Attitudes towards it
Maslina Binte Mohd Noh
English Language Honours AE, NIE, 2003
The main aim of this academic exercise is to carry out an empirical investigation of secondary school teachers' and students' attitudes towards Phua Chu Kang (PCK)'s English pre- and post-Basic English Skills Training (BEST) classes and based on the findings, make some suggestions for future language planning policies in Singapore.
This is achieved through using a questionnaire to elicit the attitudes of teachers and students as well as an online interview with the past and present producers of PCK Pte Ltd.
The main findings of this study are:
- there was a perceptible linguistic difference between the two varieties of English especially in the area of grammar;
- some significant differences were found in the subjects' attitudes towards the two varieties. Subjects felt the need for a change in the pre-BEST variety of English only. The post-BEST variety was ranked higher for sounding significantly more refined, standard, educated, capable, sincere, trustworthy, intelligent, classy and polite. Significantly more subjects were impressed by PCK's post-variety of English and expressed a preference to speak like him. They also liked the variety of English and considered it suitable for use in Singapore schools;
- while some significant differences were found in the attitudes between teachers and students, more instances of similarity occurred; and
- the popular use of Singlish in the media was not perceived as a major factor influencing a student's language learning environment but rather, the home and family background was rated the most important.
The findings of this study suggest that in order to arrest the problem of declining standards of English, there is a need to improve the level of English of the general public. In other words, the government's Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) is a step in the right direction. Additionally, the SGEM should be given a much wider publicity and the systematic teaching of pronunciation in schools is advocated.