Should you study higher or standard Chinese in elementary or secondary school?

Students in primary and secondary levels have the option of taking higher Chinese. The Ministry of Education wants to help Chinese-speaking students with the aptitude, interest, and ability to learn at a higher level and gain more cultural understanding through Higher Chinese tuition.

How are the Higher Chinese exams structured?

Higher Chinese has about 20% more vocabulary to learn every chapter than regular primary Chinese for pupils taking the PSLE, and these words are also at a higher level. Only composition and comprehension tests are given to students pursuing higher levels of Chinese (no oral and listening components)

Writing is prioritised for secondary students taking the O-level Higher Chinese exam. Hence there are two compositions in Paper 1. (writing an email and one essay). After that, it will be a comprehension and summary for Paper 2.

When will Higher Chinese be available?

Depending on the school, students can choose to take Higher Chinese at the Primary 5 level. However, some institutions provide it as early as the Primary 2 level.

What qualifications are needed for Higher Chinese?

Most primary schools would let you choose higher Chinese if you earned 70 or above in primary four standard Chinese. However, it’s interesting that a 2014 report stated that 97 marks were insufficient to qualify for Higher Chinese.

Higher Chinese will be offered at the secondary level to the top 11–30% of the cohort who received an A* or at least a Merit on the PSLE Higher Chinese exam. In addition, PSLE candidates who placed in the top 10% are eligible for Higher Chinese.

Is there a bigger workload for Higher Chinese?

In addition to the usual and (idioms) that they are often tested on, the higher Chinese students from SAP schools like RGS, VS, and SCGS have to memorise vast amounts of texts and phrases to succeed on tests.

Long comprehension passages and the Paper 2 summary section will demand them to use various words to paraphrase the concepts. The near passage (选词填空) is also difficult to guess, and pupils struggle in this area too.

As a result, there are more topics to cover than in standard Chinese. Thus, your youngster needs to be mentally prepared for this.

What advantages do primary and secondary students receive by taking higher Chinese?

If primary children are applying to attend an SAP or IP secondary school, they should take Higher Chinese at PSLE. In addition, you’ll have a stronger foundation in the language, so taking Higher Chinese in secondary school won’t be as challenging. On the other hand, IP secondary schools require all students to take Higher Mother Tongue.

The system for PSLE scoring will change starting in 2021. The achievement levels used to grade students will range from 1 to 8. (Refer to Infographic).

The posting advantage is still available to students who take Higher Chinese at PSLE if they perform well in Higher Chinese and aim to enrol in Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools.

If they transfer to a junior college, secondary students who studied Higher Chinese for their O Levels are free from taking Mother Tongue. Chinese is a mandatory A-level subject for students who did not take Higher Chinese. Such as H1 Chinese. As a result, the workload for these excused students would be reduced over their two years at junior college.

Do I need to take Higher Chinese or Normal Chinese?

You should take Higher Chinese if you or your child shows a strong interest in the Chinese language and culture and intend to enrol in an IP school or SAP school.

For instance, if your child enjoys reading Chinese articles on social media, watching Channel 8 or U programming, or reading fiction books and literature, they have the fundamentals down. Another consideration is whether your child is eager to write in Chinese journals or blogs on the internet, as this indicates a greater degree of language skill—even more reason to consider enrolling your child in the Higher Chinese programme.

However, it is no use to make life terrible for your child or yourself if they have a weak foundation in Chinese from the elementary level and don’t enjoy learning it. Remember that your child must manage 7-9 subjects at O level, including Higher Chinese, a difficult subject that can be avoided.