The ELT situation in Singapore should be understood in terms of the whole language education system. It is clear that four official languages are used, chief of all, three of them (Mandarin Chinese, Tamil, and Malay) represent the ethnic diversity in Singapore. Since 1956, a policy of equivalence for all languages has been implementing. However, two mainly wide languages used by the majority of schools are English and mother tongues. After a bilingual policy emphasizing the study of English and mother tongues, allows students acquire different language skills?it fosters an increasing number of bilinguals in schools. ( Albright & Kramer-Dahl, 2009; Mee, 2017 ). In order to allow students compass all the knowledge points contained in the syllabus effectively, a new language teaching system was put forward via Singapore Regional Language Centre Seminar in 1984 called CLT. This new language teaching system which involves social interaction activities such as conversation, role playing, group discussion, improvisation, debate, virtual situation, etc. It was formally implemented in different types of Singapore schools in 1987. ( Mee, 2017 ). This essay argues that CLT is effective in teaching English language on Singapore students.
It is clear that CLT is effective in improving student’s flexibility and many-sideness in using English language by practicing dialogues. Lee (2016) points out Singapore teachers increase teacher-students talk times approximately 8.02% to allow them acquire an increasing number of opportunities to share viewpoints to their classmates, which exercises their ability to construct sentences as well as increase confidence in learning English language. In addition, Lee (2016) also demonstrates that not only does this help students improve their language organization capacity as well as conceptual understanding, but also their thinking skills can be strengthened by practicing different types of conversations. It is the fact that they can consider alternative viewpoints flexibly and foster critical thinking by accumulating different various topics. (Albright and Kramer-Dahl, 2009; Kramer-Dahl, 2008). Thus, in this ways, CLT implemented by Singapore is effective on students.
In addition, another reason is that tight schedule of CLT is decent to improve Singapore student’s skills of reading and writing. Evidently, (Chew, 2009) demonstrates that all of students are divided into many small groups to do more macro-skills (writing, listening, reading, speaking) exercise for a whole year. In addition, a series of exams are held frequently to test them whether they master all of knowledge that they learned before.
Despite of this, this educational innovation (CLT) has not been popularized and promoted widely in the whole Singapore. Some limitations of CLT system cannot be neglected in Singapore. The mainly one is that the majority of Singapore teachers have negative attitude about CLT. Evidently, according to the Chew’s survey, (Chew, 2006:5-6) points out only 20% the teachers who are really interested in it wholeheartedly. Mainly, since teacher ranking exerting pressure to all of teachers allows them work hard constantly to assign easily quantifiable work, such as writing, project work, assignments, test papers, etc, they are less likely to focus on group work activities. In addition, teachers have to concentrate on student’s activities instead of knowledge of them because of 40-students, which make them loss control. Similarly, although students can benefit from CLT system, yet teachers have to spend much time to edit CLT syllabus and exam paper. ( Rubdy, 2010).This may occupied their much working time so that they cannot focus on other important things. Thus, this may influence their work efficiency. Accordingly, the study of students might be affected gradually.
In conclusion, although there are still some problems existing in the English teaching and learning in Singapore, the application of CLT proves to be effective in English language teaching. As for the reasons, the successful implementation of the communicative teaching approach lies in the favorable setting for English use, the historic relations with western culture and the investment in English education. For future English teaching, Singapore is expected to focus on forming the teaching and learning model based on its own context.