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May 15, 2013

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Home » Metro » Entertainment and Culture

Kindergartens to use local dialect

SELECTED kindergartens in the city will use Shanghai dialect in their class as part of efforts to promote the city's mother tongue, the Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday in a reply to a proposal submitted by a political adviser earlier this year.

Qian Cheng, vice president of Shanghai Farce Troupe, urged the commission to strengthen the use of the dialect for preschoolers as few can speak it after the campaign for Mandarin as a national language.

"Shanghai dialect is facing an unprecedented crisis as a majority of local teenagers can only understand it but can hardly speak it," said Qian.

"When this generation become parents, their children will hardly hear the Shanghai dialect, let alone speak it," Qian said.

"When that day arrives, Shanghai dialect will be truly on the verge of extinction," he said.

Qian submitted his proposal during the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Shanghai in January, where his proposal was echoed by many political advisers.

The commission said the Shanghai dialect will be taught at selected kindergartens as a trial. The children will learn the dialect from folk songs and playing games, the commission said.

It will be promoted citywide among all kindergartens after the pilot program, the commission said, adding that teachers will also be given language training lessons and text books published.

Early starters

Qian said studies showed children between the ages of three and six years old can pick up languages easily.

They can pick up the Shanghai dialect naturally by using the language at regular activities such as telling stories and singing folk songs.

"Children at kindergarten don't have much burden of studies," said Qian. "And that's the best time for them to learn the dialect. If they lose the opportunity to learn within this period, it will be very difficult for them to learn it from the beginning," Qian said.

Qian, a comedian, said his troupe was facing difficulties in recruiting actors who can speak the dialect correctly.

"The dialect must survive if the local culture is to be preserved," he said.


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