Why does Singapore, with Chinese as the ethnic majority, employ English as her language of administration? Why does the nation persist steadfastly in upholding the various mother tongues as her inseparable roots? What were the achievements of Singapore's language education? What were the mistakes? How, in the process of aligning our language education to international norms, do we balance the needs of our unique language environment? Are we able to nurture bilingual and bicultural elites? If the acquisition of language is divorced from cultural values, how is either to exist without the other? How did and will the languages of this tiny island change in response to the shifts in global currents? Should we just lament silently the decline of our dialects? What are the similarities and differences between the progress of Singapore's languages and those of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia? Which countries offer valuable lessons that we can learn from in terms of language education? What kinds of language and cultural environments could we hope to see in the future? For readers interested in the above questions, or simply concerned with their language proficiency as well as that of their future generations, One People, One Language, Many Mother Tongues is a book not to be missed. This book dedicates itself to a summary of the achievements and failures of our language policies since the nation's independence. In special interviews, the architect of our nation's language policies, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, gives readers an in-depth and extensive exposition of the original thinking of our national language policy, how the policy has to "change with the times", as well as the pragmatic planning behind the intricate act of balancing large global trends with the need to identify with local cultures. MM Lee also gives a candid account of the pitfalls of our language education. From the 25 speeches made by MM Lee on the topic of language and cultural shifts of the different ethnic groups in Singapore, we are offered a window into the past and a position to reflect upon the crucial role played by language in establishing ourselves as a nation, as well as a way to better understand MM Lee's views on language and culture. The Minister of Defence, Mr Teo Chee Hean, was also invited to talk about his time as the Minster of Education how he managed to negotiate around the furor of arguments surrounding language and language education, and strategically position our language education policy to ride the waves and thus turn adversity into advantage. The book also offers academic papers from many experts in the field. These provide critical examinations of the progress of our nation's languages as well as comparisons with other countries in the region. There are also testimonies from various individuals on their experiences in language learning, and how their lives were affected by changes in language policies. Furthermore, the book includes an extensive bibliography of books and other documents detailing Singapore's language shifts, policy decisions and education directives. This section offers readers a springboard for further research. The book comes with an eBook (PC DVD-ROM version) containing precious interview footages with MM Lee, photographs, quotations, and excerpts from the book.
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