Foreigners are often surprised to discover that English is an official language of Singapore. More often than not, this ‘surprising discovery’ is due to the fact that Singapore is located in Asia, and is often thought of as a Mandarin or Malay speaking population. But as some of you may be aware of, Singapore, being a multi-racial country, also uses three other languages – Mandarin, Malay and Tamil – which are considered both official and national languages.
While speaking and understanding English will ensure that you will be able to communicate efficiently with majority of the Singapore population, – be it your co-workers or the lady that is selling drinks at the food court – some expatriates would like to take the opportunity during their time in this country to learn the other national languages. Commonly, the languages that are learnt at the institutions are often Malay and Mandarin, as it allows foreigners to communicate with people from the neighbouring country, Malaysia, or those from China. Tamil is not often picked up as an additional language and not many language institutions offer it, but for those who are interested, you can either hire a private tutor or attend a private tuition class.
The reasons for wanting to learn the other national languages may vary from personal enjoyment to the need of using the languages in business dealings. Whatever your reasons may be, Singapore is not short of institutions that can help you accomplish learning a new language!
Having been in Singapore for over 40 years, inlingua School of Languages is considered to be one of the best institutions in Singapore to pick up either Malay or Mandarin, amongst other languages offered. Located in the heart of Singapore, Orchard Road, inlingua School of Languages’ classes are designed to maintain a small teacher to student ratio to ensure a conducive learning environment. Much emphasis is placed on the speaking aspect of the language, which is important for your basic communication with the native speakers of the language. Inlingua School of Languages also teaches students the reading, writing and listening components of languages.
Address: 1, Grange Road, Singapore 239693
Tel: +65 6737 6666
Cambridge Language School is another well-known institution in Singapore for those interested in picking up a foreign language. Amidst the 19 languages offered, this institution also offers Malay and Mandarin. For those interested in the Mandarin language, Cambridge Language School offers it in two different programs, either a full-time Chinese language program or the basic conversational Mandarin program. The Malay course that is offered is a 10-session classroom based program, which includes Malay literature and even a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to enhance your learning experience.
Address: 111, North Bridge Road, Peninsula Plaza, #11-05, Singapore 179098
Tel: +65 6336 4556
Similar to inlingua School of Languages and Cambridge Language School, Lingo School of Knowledge offers a variety of language programs, including two of the national languages, Malay and Mandarin. This institution is certified by the Ministry of Education. The Mandarin classes are taught at four different levels, beginner, intermediate, advanced or business, depending on your proficiency in the language and the need to understand the language. The Malay course on the other hand is a 20 hours program, split over 10 lessons. However, it also has the same levels as the Mandarin program. There are also four locations for Lingo School of Knowledge, making it easier for those who want to learn, especially expatriates who may be working in different parts of the country.
Address: 1, Goldhill Plaza, #02-35, Podium Block, Singapore 308899
Tel: +65 6253 3320
With regards to learning Tamil as a language, while language institutions catering to this language may be scarce, you can always opt to hire a private tuition teacher from any of the tuition agencies on the island.