Learning a Mother Tongue Language in primary school

Your child will need to learn a Mother Tongue Language (MTL) as a second language in school. Learn more about the MTL curriculum and how it can benefit your child.

Mother Tongue Languages at a glance

What is it

Mother Tongue Language (MTL) is offered in Singapore schools as a second language. It is a compulsory subject.

There are 3 official MTLs:

  • Chinese
  • Malay
  • Tamil

Why it is important

Students can:

  • Communicate more effectively in MTL.
  • Appreciate their cultural heritage.
  • Connect with wider communities across Asia and the world.

Who is it for

All students in Singapore primary schools.

How it works

  • Students of Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities will study their own MTLs.
  • Students who are Eurasian, of mixed parentage and whose mother tongue is not one of the official MTLs can request to study any of them subject to approval.
  • Non-Tamil speaking students of Indian ethnicity can apply to study Non-Tamil Indian Language (Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi or Urdu). These language classes are not provided by MOE and are usually conducted outside of school premises and hours. You can refer to the Board for the Teaching and Testing of South Asian Languages’ website for more information.

Mother Tongue Languages in school

Chinese Language

The Chinese Language curriculum focuses on listening, speaking, reading, writing and interaction skills. It is tailored to your child’s abilities and offered in the following modules:

  • Core module: for all primary school students.
  • Bridging module: if your child needs more help in the language.
  • Enrichment module: if your child has a higher aptitude for learning the language.
Malay Language

The Malay Language curriculum focuses on listening, speaking, reading, writing and interaction skills. Your child can progress to different levels of proficiency, depending on interest and  abilities.

Tamil Language

The Tamil Language curriculum focuses on listening, speaking, reading, writing and interaction skills.

Higher Mother Tongue Languages

At the end of Primary 4, your child’s school will recommend the subject combination that is most suitable for them in Primary 5.

Based on your child’s MTL results, these subjects may include Higher Mother Tongue Language in one of the official languages.

Tip:

Use SchoolFinder to learn more about the MTLs offered by each school.