While young Singaporeans continue to have a strong foundation in English, the use of Mother Tongue Languages (MTLs) as their dominant home language has dipped. Since MTL usage in the home environment will likely continue to decrease, there has been more attention and discussion on nurturing and maintaining bilingualism and biliteracy among educators, parents, and researchers. The talk will review the trend of this drastic change in language profiles of Singapore’s bilingual primary schoolers in recent years. I will also discuss the importance of early literacy in determining long-term language proficiency and maintenance. Furthermore, I will introduce some of the current work of the research team on identifying early English-Chinese readers who struggle with the simultaneous acquisition of two writing systems. Cognitive and linguistic theories addressing the phenomenon and our recent attempts to explore specific scaffolding strategies for these struggling children will be shared in the talk.
Alice Chan is an Associate Professor and Head of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies at the School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University. Her research utilizes neuroimaging (fMRI and EEG) and behavioral measures to investigate language, communication, and learning. Her studies demonstrated that the language experience shapes the perception and cognition of individuals across the lifespan. Her recent work focuses on bilingual and biliteracy development and dyslexia in Singapore. These projects are supported by the Ministry of Education Tier 2 and SSRTG funding schemes.