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  • Writer's pictureLim Wei Bin

高华还是普华?Higher Chinese or Normal Chinese?

Chinese Language (CL) vs High Chinese Language (HCL)

This is one of the most common questions I am being consulted.

At times, I will even encourage potential students to take on the challenge for Higher Chinese Language.

On the contrary, should we think carefully before deciding to let your child take on Higher Chinese Language?

Below are some of the advantages, reasons, structure and examples to share, for your considerations.

What are the advantages of taking up HCL?

1. O level minus off 2 points

2. Do not need to study Chinese Language in JC (if they passed their O level)

3. Can be counted as L1, substitute English (Pass) if HCL outscore English

We commonly say that there is a 2 grade difference between CL and HCL.

Students tend to find it difficult to cope.

From the students' point of view, the difficulties tend to be more than 2 grade difference.

Should it be considered as 2 different subjects like A-math and E-math?

In my opinion, it should be taught as 2 different subjects. The sections inside are made up of different components. The weightage is also different. Of course, there are also different levels of difficulties involved.

For the Comprehension wise, the expectations in it have a wide range of differences. For CL, there are more questions at the comprehensive level, students have a higher chance of copying answers, whereas for HCL, there are more questions on analysis, inferring, compilation, creativity and personal opinions. Therefore, its way more difficult.

Having taught HCL students whom is taking Express CL paper during their Sec 3 level, one challenge is to help them adapt and cope with the CL paper as its very different from what they usually experience from the HCL context. Students tend to attempt the CL paper with the HCL mindset, they tend to edit most of the answers to make it sounds like their own, there it created a new problem, they may have missed out the important words or phrases after using their own words.

Oral wise is the same. The same I meant difficulty level.

For normal Chinese, basically you have passage reading, follow by video, when you reach the examiner, there will be reading and conversation.

For Higher Chinese, students are required to prepare a 2 min oral report, to present before the examiner. There are students whom fail as its not as simple as we thought it would be.

And there is NO listening comprehension for Higher Chinese!

Of course, over the years, we have also seen students dropping Higher Chinese in Sec 3, as the jump from sec 2 is way too wide. The depth of learning is way deeper than most people who thought. Some students could not adapt to the syllabus right from the start whereas some dropped after they attempted to take O level Chinese during their sec 3 years and fail to make the grade or school requirement.

Some suggestions to consider when deciding to enroll your child for Higher Chinese Language.


1. Is the child passionate about the language?

- Reading Chinese storybooks/novels

- Watching Chinese shows/movies

- Play Chinese Games etc

2. Is your child hardworking? Discipline enough to do self-directed learning?

External environment.

1. Teacher/Tutor/Enrichment

- Does your child have a good tutor?

- Is your child from a Mandarin Speaking family? Mandarin speaking school environment?

All in all, please think carefully before enrolling student for Higher Chinese.

There are pros and cons to consider.

Welcome to drop me a call and chat 😊


Lin Lao Shi has a wealth of teaching experience and is a MOE-trained teacher. Trained in Differentiated Instruction, he has helped many students with different learning needs with their Chinese language. If you have any enquiry, call or message him at +65 9727 9365.

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