In November, a few hundred students will be sitting part of their Chinese Mother Tongue exams using a laptop – the first time computers are being used in a national examination, the Education Ministry said yesterday.
Instead of writing their answers on traditional gao zhi (Chinese foolscap), the 300 junior college students will have to type an e-mail or blog entry by using romanised hanyu pinyin, then selecting the right characters when prompted by the input software. This “functional writing” part of the test makes up 20 per cent of the whole exam.
Media reports said the exam is the A-level Mother Tongue “B” exam, introduced in 2003 to help students who aren’t so good in Chinese.
The thinking behind this new e-component is that it will make learning Chinese more current since no one really writes in script anymore – certainly not students who are poor in the language to begin with.
Or as MOE deputy-general of education Wong Siew Hoong put it to ST: These students were selected to have the e-exam because they “are the ones who will require a lot more authenticity in their learning”.
TODAY said such computer-based writing “has become the norm not only in the workplace but also in social communication”.
Surprisingly, the Chinese daily Zaobao did not have a conniption fit about the news – after all, the concern most traditional Chinese-speakers will have is that such a move may compromise the learning of Chinese characters at a time when already more and more Chinese Singaporeans are using English at home and at work.
The paper reported the story straight – though, expect its Forum pages to be flooded by similar concerns over the next few days.
This was an issue addressed by the director of assessment research at the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board yesterday.
Mr Yue Lip Sin said “recognising the characters is as important as knowing how to write them,” ST reported, adding: “What is important is whether they are able to communicate the idea and the feeling in the functional writing.”