On game show and beauty pageant interviews

Teachers, particularly those who teach Social Studies or History, seem to love watching the local game show ‘We are Singaporean’. Our favourite segment? It seems to be the few minutes when the camera is turned on the man-in-the-street, who is asked facts about Singapore. Who was our first president? What does ‘YOG’ stand for? Where was the 1st National Day held?

Oh no, we shake our heads in dismay after each telecast. How can they not know that Lyo and Merly were the YOG mascots? How come those school children didn’t know that ‘padang’ means ‘field’? Then, we stride into class the next day and make sure the students we teach will know the answers to these questions.

This television programme-related practice, together with past trends of having indepth analysis of the interview responses of our beauty pageant contestants for pronunciation, grammar and content in the mass media for days after the pageant, was on my mind when I read this article (http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=how-well-do-miss-usa-contestants-re-2011-07-15) which concluded that overall, the recent answers of Miss USA contestants correlated with the general views of their respective states.

I guess on one level, it brought home the point that even if they never get interviewed on any national game show or beauty contest, each child that passes through my hands will be seen as a product of Singapore, of the Singapore brand of education and of us, the Singapore teaching fraternity.

In today’s papers, it was announced that our own local Miss World Singapore contest might be scrapping the swimsuit round and increasing the number interview rounds to include, among other changes, a round where contestants would be asked to prepare their response to a question.

How their English pronunciation, grammar and general speech delivery will be perceived is really anyone’s guess…

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