Mother Tongue Languages


research education


Our Approach
Bilingual education in English and Mother Tongue Languages (MTL) is a cornerstone of Singapore’s education system. In the Ministry of Education’s latest review of MTL teaching and learning, the call was made to “nurture active learners and proficient users” (2010 MTL Review Committee Report, MOE, 2011). At Raffles Institution, the learning of MTL is aligned to the national focus, with consideration for the unique profile of our students.


Learner Outcomes
Effective communicators who are rooted in their cultural identity and confident in engaging the region and beyond. 

The Mother Tongue Languages curriculum is aligned with O level standard and is centred on the goal of engaging students in joy of learning, developing them to become active learners and proficient users of their mother tongue languages. In order to achieve that goal, six language skills, listening and reading skills (receptive skills), speaking and writing skills (productive skills) and, spoken interaction and written interaction skills (interaction skills), are covered in our four-year curriculum. Furthermore, students will be exposed to ethnic heritage, tradition, culture and values in the course of learning their mother tongue languages.


Extensive Reading Programme: Extensive reading is extremely important for the development of language proficiency. It is also the foundation for developing discerning readers able to engage texts critically. Students will be exposed to a wide array of different text types, with structured exercises to develop their reading skills. 

Performance Tasks to develop real world language proficiency: Students will be engaged in performance tasks such as making presentations, conducting interviews and creating brochures and videos. These activities aim to help students apply their textbook knowledge to real world situations. 

Cultural exposure programmes: Students are provided with cultural exposure activities, such as theatre experiences and learning journeys. The experiences anchor the learning of Mother Tongue Language in authentic settings, and also provide students with greater understanding of their cultural roots. 

Mother Tongue Language Fortnight: The Mother Tongue Language Fortnight is a yearly event spanning two weeks. Students can expect to participate in an array of activities that encourages use of their Mother Tongue Languages in authentic situations.

Talent Development

Bicultural (China) Programme
Comprising talks, modules and an immersion trip in Year 3–4, the Raffles Bicultural Programme (China) equips students with the skills and competencies needed to operate in China, an emerging global power. Guest speakers from organisations such as Singapore Press Holdings and the universities are invited to conduct talks and modules for the students, focusing on an in-depth understanding of the culture and history of China and the contemporary issues she faces.

Malay Special Programme
Malay Special Programme (MSP) is one of the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s 3rd language programme which is offered in Raffles Institution. Through MSP, students will learn to communicate in Malay language, in both speech and writing. They will also understand the culture and traditions of the Malay community in the context of a multicultural society in Singapore. Students who have not offered Malay Language as a subject in primary school and are interested in the programme may apply for it online upon the release of their PSLE results. MSP students will attend a 3-hour lesson once a week in the afternoon. Apart from weekly lessons, students will also be engaged in enrichment programmes and learning journeys. The programme will prepare students for the MSP examination at GCE ‘O’ Level at the end of Year 4. 


EMAS is Elective Programme in Malay Language for Secondary Schools (EMAS) at secondary level. Raffles Institution (RI) is the fourth EMAS centre to offer this four-year programme at Y1-4, beginning 2023. The EMAS programme aims to improve students’ proficiency in the Malay language and cultivate interest in students to appreciate the Malay culture. Students will get the opportunity to immerse in various cultural activities through the enrichment programmes that will be organised for them.

The vision for EMAS in RI is ‘Membina Bata Jati Diri, Menuntun Berbakti Ibu Pertiwi’ (To develop students to have a strong Malay identity, and to lead and serve in the Malay community). In line with the school’s mission of nurturing thinkers, leaders and pioneers of character who serve by leading and lead in serving, the EMAS programme also focusses on providing opportunities and platforms to foster Malay Leadership in Language and Culture among the EMAS students. Apart from imparting language and cultural knowledge to the students, our enrichment activities also aim to develop leadership skills that will shape the students to be ambassadors of the Malay language and culture.  EMAS in RI aims to provide a more holistic and enriching experience that shapes students’ minds to be Malay leaders with strong Malay language proficiency and cultural knowledge and awareness. 

Students must offer Higher Malay Language (HML) in secondary school to be in this elective programme. Students who take HML in RI will automatically be part of EMAS and participate in the EMAS programme and activities organised by both the MOE and school. Eligible students from other schools who are offering HML in RI will attend lessons on every Thursday, from 3 to 6 pm. 

MTL Fortnight