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Office of Education Research, National Institute of Education, Singapore
Mukhlis Abu Bakar, & Sa'eda Buang. (2021). The place of sebutan baku in students' spoken Malay (Report No. OER 29/17 MM). National Institute of Education (Singapore), Office of Education Research.
Sebutan Baku (Standard Pronunciation) was officially introduced and promoted as the standard pronunciation for use with spoken standard Malay in Singapore in 1993 replacing the previous standard that developed from the Johor-Riau dialect (henceforth referred to as Johor-Riau Standard). Since then, Sebutan Baku has been taught in schools, adopted by the media, and prescribed to be used in formal occasions where Standard Malay is expected. In 2012, almost two decades after Sebutan Baku was introduced, Mr Masagos Zulkifli Masagos Mohamed, the then Chairman of the Malay Language Council of Singapore and Minister of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs, has asked whether this standard pronunciation has been fully acquired by the Malay community in Singapore, and if not, how it can be perfected. The proposed project aims to provide part of the answer to the first of the questions. This project is a two-year exploratory, mixed-method study that aims to obtain an understanding of the place of Sebutan Baku in Malay students' spoken language in schools in Singapore. Using a questionnaire survey, we plan to elicit information from Secondary 3 students from four schools in all the streams Express, Normal (Academic), Normal (Technical) about their spoken language practices and their views on, and identification with, Sebutan Baku. Using a case-based approach, we plan to enroll 24 of these students as focal participants spread across the four schools to observe and record their actual use of Malay within the classroom setting as they interact with their teachers and peers during Malay Language lessons. Separate interviews will be held with these case studies students and their teachers to gain a better insight into the students' attitude towards, and identification with, Sebutan Baku. Finally, a phonetic analysis of the focal students' utterances in Malay will be carried out to find out the accuracy of their Sebutan Baku pronunciation. The aim is to understand, the place of Sebutan Baku in the learning and teaching of the Malay language in the classroom, the students' attitude towards, and identification with, Sebutan Baku, and the accuracy of students' Sebutan Baku and that of those they directly interact with in class. Findings from the study will help the Ministry of Education to gauge the extent to which students have embraced and accurately acquired Sebutan Baku, and to take appropriate measures if necessary. The second of the Minister's questions is reserved for a possible follow-up study, focusing on students in primary schools where the teaching and learning of Sebutan Baku are actively enacted.
Project number: 
OER 29/17 MM
Funding Agency: 
Ministry of Education, Singapore.
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