Taking a Third Language in JC (OH2020 Print Edition)

Four third languages are offered at the H2 level—Japanese, French, German, and Spanish. Lessons are held twice a week from 5:30–7:30pm at Bishan MOELC (Ministry of Education Language Centre) for all languages except Spanish, which is held at Newton MOELC instead. Prerequisites may differ across the languages—prospective students are advised to check with MOELC for more details. 

Overall, H2 third languages require a heavier emphasis on culture, history, and current affairs; they can be said to be GP in that particular language. Lessons are usually discussion-based with student presentations: for instance, H2 French students are shown news articles, videos or slides, while H2 Spanish students might play Kahoot! quizzes, watch Spanish movies and TV shows on Netflix, or debate sociopolitical issues surrounding Spanish-speaking countries. In contrast to what one might have experienced in secondary school, little class time is spent on grammar and vocabulary. 

The A-level examination for all H2 third languages involves five components: the essay, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, oral, and coursework (a research paper about any country that speaks the respective third language). Internal examinations may be a bit more rigorous in nature, as examinations are held at the end of every academic term, in addition to an end-of-year exam.

Nevertheless, taking a third language at H2 level has its perks. Candidates that have attained at least a B3 for the O-level examinations may apply for the Language Elective Scholarship (LES) of their respective third language, and undergraduate scholarships may also be offered. Students may also participate in other fun activities during their time as an H2 third language student. For instance, H2 Japanese students may be required to participate in competitions and help organise events, while H2 French students have field trips to places such as the Alliance Française médiathèque (library) and Lycée Français (Singapore’s French international school) for Francophonie Festival. H2 German tutors also readily inform students about available events they can partake in such as volunteering to assist in German lessons for children at the Goethe Institute or attending the annual German Film Festival; similarly, H2 Spanish students get to attend the Mexican Film Festival at NUS.

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The H2 Spanish class enjoying their
handmade torrejas and tortillas.

One disadvantage is that CCA options may be limited: two days of the week are off-limits, unless special arrangements are made. Overall, however, taking a third language at the H2 level will be a gratifying experience if one not only has a deep passion for not only the language, but also its culture, history, and current affairs.

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