Effect of Singapore’s Language Education Policy on Chinese Singaporeans’ Identity – From a Survey of New University Graduates

Abstract

In Singapore bilingual education is being promoted due to the influence of globalization, English driven lifestyle and culture have become widespread, especially among young people. On the other hand, some are concerned about the situation in which the younger generation is gradually moving away from their ethnic language, culture, and traditions. Therefore, I conducted a survey with the aim of considering how the current language education in Singapore is affecting the younger generation of Chinese Singaporeans. The survey was conducted on five National University of Singapore graduates in 2019. I conducted a semi-structured interview survey on (1) the status of the language being used, (2) the activities of Chinese clan association, and (3) their own identity.
The survey revealed that young Chinese Singaporeans have an English-driven lifestyle. As a symbol of that, few young Chinese Singaporeans knew the existence and activities of the Chinese clan association, which had been the emotional supports of Chinese Singaporeans. On the other hand, some people were worried about the current situation in which the Chinese dialect is declining as Mandarin is becoming more widespread due to the influence of the Speak Mandarin campaign. Young Chinese Singaporeans are still interested in dialects, languages of their ancestors. Regarding Singlish, which is used daily in Singaporean society, speaking Singlish seems to be related to their identity. I can clearly say that the identity of young Chinese Singaporeans is being established as a Singaporean from a "Chinese" identity, however the "Chinese" identity is not all gone, nevertheless ambivalent.



Author Information
Yuki Yokohama, Kanto Gakuin University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACAS2021
Stream: South-East Asian Studies (including Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos)

This paper is part of the ACAS2021 Conference Proceedings (View)
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