Shanghainese comes to kindergarten

By Jiang Yabin Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-14 23:23:01

The city's education authority has approved Shanghainese to be taught in some kindergartens as part of a pilot program to promote the use of the local dialect, local media reported Tuesday.

The measure, proposed by a member of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), aims to preserve the fading dialect, which city schools abandoned after the central government pushed Putonghua to be adopted in classrooms across the country in 1992.

About 40 percent of local children cannot understand or speak the dialect, according to a report from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in 2012.

The local CPPCC member, Qian Cheng, submitted the proposal at the Shanghai's Political Consultative Conference in January due to his concerns that the language was falling out of use, according to a report in the Shanghai Morning Post.

Qian said he feared following generations might never hear the dialect, which he described as an important carrier of the city's culture.

Kindergarten is a good place to start teaching the dialect because it is easier for young children to learn new languages. They also have a much smaller workload than older pupils, Qian said.

In 2012, dialect experts complied a Shanghainese textbook for primary school students.

Unlike primary school students, however, kindergarteners have not yet learned to read, so the best way to teach them the tongue is through songs and storytelling, Qian said.

The Shanghai Municipal Education Commission plans to arrange local culture education activities at kindergartens during which children will learn the dialect, the Shanghai Morning Post reported.

The commission will ask kindergartens to select qualified teachers to teach the tongue and encourage universities to offer training courses for those teachers, the report said. It will also ask dialect experts to write a Shanghai dialect textbook designed specifically for kindergarteners.

Posted in: Society, Metro Shanghai

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