Mother Tongue Subjects: How much will it affect the PSLE?




Mother tongue (MT) is defined as the language which a child grows up speaking. It is a compulsory subject that primary six students take during the PSLE. Evidently doing badly at a particular subject will affect your child’s score at the PSLE, but this can be mitigated by doing better at other subjects.

Students struggling with MT

It is not uncommon for Singaporean students to perform poorly in mother tongue from a young age. As younger couples tend to speak English at home, the opportunity to speak mother tongue at home is diminishing. In addition, fewer younger couples are living with their older parents who might speak their mother tongue on a daily basis.

Many students have had their PSLE results dragged down by their mother tongue score. The best remedy, apart from improving his MT, is to do his best for other subjects in order to compensate.

Mr Kumar’s perspective

Mr Vijay Kumar’s son was weak in Tami. Mr Kumar explained further, “My son did well at the other subjects but was dragged down by his mother tongue, he managed to get into the school of his choice but it would have been better if he was exempted from mother tongue.”

MOE’s stance

Currently, MOE adopts the following stance on mother tongue:

“MOE made it clear that exemption is granted on a case-by-case basis. The key criterion is that the children have “certified special needs that adversely affect their ability to cope with learning”. This includes issues such as dyslexia, autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Those who have joined the education system mid-stream “without prior learning of one of the official mother-tongue languages or mother tongue languages-in-lieu” may also be considered for exemption” – The Straits Times, 25 July 2016.