Friday 30 May 2014

Speak Good English drive focuses on grammar rules

Humorous videos and notebooks to help spread the message
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 29 May 2014

AN ADVERTISEMENT boasted how a shop ''specialised'' in a particular service. Far from enticing Mr Goh Eck Kheng to visit, it actually put him off.

''Why should I patronise someone who was a specialist and is no longer one?'' said the chairman of the 15-year-old Speak Good English Movement, which yesterday launched its campaign for this year - the first to focus on grammar.

Mr Goh has noticed many examples of poor grammar use among Singaporeans, particularly in tenses, subject-verb agreement and prepositions.

''If you learn the rules of grammar, then you can check yourself far easier, rather than taking mistakes piecemeal,'' he said yesterday, launching this year's campaign at The Arts House.

Previous campaign themes have focused on raising awareness about the importance of speaking standard English.

To dispel the notion that grammar rules are boring, the movement launched the first in a series of six humorous videos yesterday.

Starring local comedian Kumar as the ''Queen of Grammar'', the skits feature commonly misunderstood grammatical practices such as tenses and countable nouns.

The movement has released a set of ''grammar rules'' notebooks, around 5,000 of which will be handed out on Saturday to members of the public during dance performances by Institute of Technical Education students.

The Straits Times has also produced a set of notebooks highlighting common mistakes and tips from correspondents and editors. Both will be made available to schools and government bodies.

As part of this year's campaign, English workshops will be held in libraries and online in the second half of the year, while people can test their grammatical skills using an error-strewn story on the movement's website.

The Straits Times has partnered the group in organising the annual Inspiring Teacher of English awards in October, which include a new leadership prize this year. The ceremony honours English teachers and coordinators in Singapore schools.

General Paper teacher Patrick Sum, 39, who won the Teaching Award last year, said: ''When I was a student, we were presented (grammar) as rules first, and we memorised them.

''But for our generation of teachers, it is important to find fun ways to learn rules and find ways to link them to other subjects.''

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