Thursday, February 27, 2014

MOE's Joke Book Part 2

After writing MOE's Joke Book (Part 1), I stumbled upon one more incredible gem in ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN 2 and I really hope my readers will indulge me one more article on this matter and I promise I won't belabour the same point again but this really is the funniest thing you'll ever see in your entire life. And this time, I swear that if nobody finds this uproariously funny, I'm prepared to streak down not just Orchard Road but all the way through Holland Road to Holland Village and do a lambada in the middle of the town square!

A reader is confused. Should we say "use your brain" or "use your brains". You won't believe the answer given by the English language expert. First, he goes through the anatomical structure of the human brain. That's a no-brainer - any fool can regurgitate the same facts from wikipedia. Then comes the priceless gem, the beauty of which will be lost if you do not see it for yourself. Here's a pic I took of the page itself.

I bet you're now in stitches.

Do we say the monkey which wrote this answer has no brain or brains? Singapore's language experts will tell you it depends on whether it was written by one monkey or more than one.


By now, some of my readers probably believe both the grammar books are in fact joke books. Sadly, they are not.  Both books are intended as a reliable guide to students and the general public on how best to speak and write in the English language. They are widely sold in all book shops in Singapore and are found particularly in schools and school children are encouraged to buy them. They both topped the best seller charts in Singapore for a very long time. Prof Koh Tai Ann, the then Chairman of the Speak Good English Movement, writes in the Preface to ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN, that the book "addresses common errors, and areas of concern and confusion, through examples and explanations under three categories: Usage; Vocabulary; and Grammar." She continues to say that the book "examines and explains the sometimes baffling rules of grammar." She hopes that the book "will not only help readers to clarify areas of uncertainty in their use of the language but also foster an awareness of how we speak and write English." In the Foreword, Felix Soh, Deputy Editor of the Straits Times writes, "This book is not designed to grace a shelf but as a practical guidebook. Use it, refer to it - and speak with confidence."

I have in more than a dozen blog posts shown quite conclusively that both books are so shockingly wrong and flawed that anyone who depends on them does so to his detriment. If you are interested in looking at the entire list of all my blog posts on this subject, please click on this. It's a growing list and I will add to it every time I post a new article in my blog on the subject.

I'm doing this in the hope that MOE will realise what rotten apples they have for language experts and what a disgrace their grammar books really are but so far, all my posts have fallen on deaf ears. But it doesn't matter. I've been richly entertained by both books and I hope I've entertained my readers too. And I assure you there'll be more posts.

For a full list of grammar errors made by MOE, the Speak Good English Movement and other language teachers, please click here.


  1. I know for sure MOE doesn't pay peanuts, so how come they get monkeys?

  2. Hi WaiYing,
    To be fair to the MOE, the quality of education in Singapore is extremely high. Singapore ranks among the top of the world list according to reliable international surveys such as the PISA test. In some subjects such as Maths, Singapore's teaching methods are so good that many countries in the West have imitated them. Singapore's sterling reputation in the arena of education covers everything from our kindergartens to universities. But there is one disgraceful blot in our otherwise spotless educational escutcheon - English grammar. The MOE, for some reason, appointed a truly incompetent and ignorant bunch of buffoons as their panel of English experts to write the answers to the ENGLISH AS IT IS BROKEN series. Why the MOE did that and why the Speak Good English Movement fully supported the panel are questions which I have no answer to.