Surviving in Singapore: Learning Foreign Languages

Surviving in Singapore: Learning Foreign Languages

Singapore, an island country located at the southernmost tip of Malaysia, is a very advanced city state. It was a British colony for a long time and has now become independent.

Singapore offers great opportunities for higher education. Students can participate in courses of different types, including those for learning various foreign languages. There are multiple benefits of learning a foreign language:

  • Academic
  • Social
  • Personal
  • Cognitive

One of the major benefits of learning foreign languages is that it builds understanding, appreciation and respect for other cultures and countries. It helps people understand and respect other cultures, which are extremely important if they are to thrive in today’s multicultural world. Studying foreign languages helps a student in multiple ways. It helps to:

  • Increases complex problem-solving abilities
  • Improves their verbal and non-verbal intelligence
  • Acquire better cognitive processing

Foreign language learners also tend to have better comprehension of their native tongue compared to their monolingual peers. Studying foreign languages also improves students’ performance in science and mathematics. Students with a degree and an excellent grasp over foreign languages — both spoken and written — can look forward to having excellent and rewarding careers as translators, language teachers, interpreters and so on. They will also enjoy the benefit of being able to communicate with the local inhabitants of a region in their native tongue.

Singapore primarily has people of three different races — Chinese, Malays and Indians. Chinese are the overwhelming majority, followed by Malays and then Indians. The most commonly spoken languages are Mandarin Chinese and English. Indians in Singapore primarily come from the state of Tamil Nadu and hence, Tamil is also an important language in the country. Besides, Malay is also widely spoken and understood in Singapore.

Languages are taught in schools. Besides, there are many specialized institutions offering instruction in foreign languages.

These are a few ways in which one can learn foreign languages in Singapore:

In Local Secondary Schools: Singapore’s Government Schools do offer their students the opportunity to study a foreign language as an essential part of the curriculum. More than 90% of the Government schools include Tamil as an essential part of the curriculum. Students also have the option to take up higher Malay, which includes lessons not only in Malay language, but also in Malay history and culture. Students have the option of taking up one of seven third languages,which are:

  • Japanese
  • French
  • German
  • Arabic
  • Bahasa Indonesian
  • Chinese (special program)
  • Malay(special program)

Learning Foreign Languages in Singapore’s Tertiary Education SectorThere are many Universities in Singapore, which offer students the opportunity to learn foreign languages. For instance, the center for language studies in the National University of Singapore currently provides the chance to learn 12 languages, namely:

  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • Hindi
  • German
  • Tamil
  • Korean
  • Malay
  • Bahasa Indonesian
  • Thai
  • Arabic
  • French
  • Vietnamese

The educational system emphasizes on a total immersion method where various excursions, home stays and trips are organized. Besides, classes are held to expose students not just to the language, but also to the culture of the countries where those languages are spoken. The Polytechnic School of Communication and Social Sciences also offers plenty of opportunities for learning a foreign language. Its curriculum include courses in:

  • Spanish
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • French
  • Conversational and business Chinese
  • Conversational Bahasa
  • Conversational Vietnamese
  • Conversational Thai

Upon completion of the course, students’ are offered a Singapore Polytechnic Certificate.

.Learning Foreign Language through Private Tuitions and Hobby Classes: Singapore is an extremely multicultural society and it has inhabitants from all parts of the world. It also has an advanced economy and many expats come to the country looking for better prospects. Many of them are keen to share their language and culture with others. Or they may bring in spouses who have been unable to find employment and would like to take language lessons in their spare time. It is possible to learn practically every well known foreign language in Singapore through private tuitions. These include:

  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Korean

There are also multiple tutorials in Singapore, which offer foreign language classes. The students can join any one of those to master the language. These classes cater to all groups and segments of students — from children and preteens to teenagers and young adults. Besides, the student group also includes housewives and professionals who are looking to improve their language skills. Some famous tutorials in Singapore, which offer foreign language classes include, but are not limited to:

  • Inlingua School of Languages, Singapore
  • French Toast Language Center
  • Academ-Asia School of Language and Education
  • Indotutors
  • Las Lilas School
  • Ingenio Education Pte Ltd.

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