WHILE I was on an exchange programme at the Lycee Francais de Singapour in Ang Mo Kio, I realised that most of the students learnt at least three languages.

In fact, many people around the world are now trilingual in English, Mandarin and a language used by their neighbouring country.

Singaporeans, however, study only two languages in school – English and our mother tongue.

With Malay being a common language used by our neighbours such as Malaysia and Indonesia, and with many Singaporeans travelling to these countries for short trips, perhaps it would be useful to offer lessons in conversational Malay to students.

In my school, everyone had to learn conversational Malay for two years. During that time, we had the chance to taste Malay cuisine and experience eating using our hands.

Learning another language is useful as, in doing so, we can better understand its culture, something that is important in a multiracial society like Singapore.

Whether we use it in the future or not, it is always better to be able to know the gist of the language, so we can apply it if necessary.

Jong Ching Yee (Ms)

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