Taking up a 3rd language-some key issues

You see opinions scattered everywhere in cyber-space, so who makes sense and who doesn't? Who makes more sense and who makes less sense? At Kiasu Parents Forum, someone apparently stumbled upon an 'interesting' piece of advice concerning taking up 3rd language in secondary school only if it 'adds value' to the overall grade profile of the student, and immediately dismissed this as another instance of the typical, over realistic Singaporean mindset.

Rational_Parent analyzed things much more calmly and presented something (edited version laid out below) which I felt was less biased and rather sensible :

" I believe such an assumption is far too sweeping and rather unfair. Sometimes when parents/ students decide to give 3rd language a miss altogether, there could be other underlying reasons.

An alternate view and MHO.........

It certainly boils down to prioritizing, which is directly related to the amount of time/resources a secondary school student should allocate to various endeavors including studies, CCAs ( now made compulsory), acquisition of non-academic skill-sets, maintaining a active/ healthy lifestyle and lots more. Factor in considerations such as a much heavier study workload compared to previously in primary school, the need to join external tuition classes to keep up with things, hours spent commuting on the roads to various training venues on a daily/weekly basis etc, it isn't difficult to see the water level could possibly rise up to the neck for the poor kid. So to a large extent, whether the child decides to learn an extra language on top of everything else is definitely a question of how well he/she can cope with regards to his/her already taxing schedule.

Financially speaking, while the costs incurred should one ceases attending 3rd language classes aren't as great as compared to, say giving up learning the piano ( thousands of dollars literally washed down the drain just to buy one for practising at home), we must not forget when measured in terms of efforts invested and subsequently wasted due to incompletion, both scenarios are equal failures in magnitude.

This isn't mere waxing philosophical, what I am emphasizing is something truly important: practicality must prevail. Children eagerly dive into activities which they have scant appreciation of and very often call it a day regretfully after a short while. I would like to believe most parents know their children better than they know themselves. Therefore, as an advisor, confidante, etc, it is only natural for parents to decide what is best for their children every now and then, as well as assist them in making informed decisions along the earlier stages of their schooling lives.

I prefer to view the learning of a third language as both a means of enrichment and a commitment to better one's self, rather than solely as another subject where good grades must be achieved. In that respect, I do not insist my children take it up upon entering secondary school. That said, should they desire to pursue this for the sake of personal interest at a later stage, assuming they have performed consistently well in their studies, I would be more than happy to enrol them in a specialized institution.

Here is the thing : if the higher-ups in MOE are genuinely resolute about encouraging the holistic development of a child, they should seriously consider integrating the 3rd language as a component within the core curriculum instead of allowing it to exist as a separate, optional entity. While such an initiative would probably exhaust a fair bit of resources during initial stages of implementation (not forgetting the logistical challenges which will also have to be surmounted), I am confident this would bring about positive benefits for many more students in the long run. "

Thank you Rational_Parent for granting me permission to share this lovely post of yours.