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Practicing Mandarin in Singapore

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Cankles
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Practicing Mandarin in Singapore

Postby Cankles » Tue, 17 Nov 2009 11:53 am

Hi folks,
my partner and I are re-locating from Shanghai to Singapore this week. Firstly, I've found this site very helpful for research so far - thanks.

We were wondering, however, if there is much chance to practice Mandarin in Singapore (compared to Cantonese or other dialects) and/or if there are many Mandarin schools?

Having spent the past few years in China we've started to understand and speak a bit of Chinese and want to keep practicing and learning.

Any tips would be great.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Tue, 17 Nov 2009 12:16 pm

You haven't done much research about Singapore it would seem. Mandarin is one of the four main languages in Singapore and I daresay, the most widely used language as the majority of the population speaks Mandarin and most of the older ones speak a dialect as well. Mandarin has been compulsory if you are Chinese in Singapore schools for 30 years or so. It taught at both 1st language and 2nd language level so you shouldn't want for practice.

Having said that, the Mandarin spoken/written here is a somewhat simpler form than Potongua. At least that what my son & daughter tell me.

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Postby Cankles » Tue, 17 Nov 2009 3:41 pm

sundaymorningstaple wrote:You haven't done much research about Singapore it would seem. Mandarin is one of the four main languages in Singapore and I daresay, the most widely used language as the majority of the population speaks Mandarin and most of the older ones speak a dialect as well. Mandarin has been compulsory if you are Chinese in Singapore schools for 30 years or so. It taught at both 1st language and 2nd language level so you shouldn't want for practice.

Having said that, the Mandarin spoken/written here is a somewhat simpler form than Potongua. At least that what my son & daughter tell me.


Yes, I have done research and know Mandarin is one of the four main languages in Singapore and aware children need to learn it at school (as with other languages if from different backgrounds)

I've been to Singapore a few times and heard more Australian bogan hua than Mandarin - given I was in the touristy areas though.

My question was more about adults, interaction everyday, and possibly Mandarin schools. I know it's not going to be as good as China but just wondering what Chinese-speakers on this forum think.

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Postby durain » Tue, 17 Nov 2009 7:03 pm

Cankles wrote:I know it's not going to be as good as China but just wondering what Chinese-speakers on this forum think.


if you learn hard enuf, i am sure it will be as good as china. just like how i learning my singlish as it is getting as good as the singaporean.

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Postby teck21 » Wed, 18 Nov 2009 11:43 am

Singapore is one of the worst places to come to brush up on either English or Chinese language skills. I am unable to speak for tamil or malay since I have no familiarity with either.

Apart from a select few, the mandarin spoken in Singapore by the average mandarin-speaking 'native' Chinese Singaporeans is nothing like the sort of putonghua you are probably accustomed to hearing in China.

It is a mangled version of manadrin which incorporates English (or singlish rather) and oftentimes malay. It is full of turns of phrase that would make no sense at all to a 'real' mandarin speaker.

Maybe it ought to be called Singdarin or something, like Singlish.

Rest assured that most members of the public who speak manadrin on an everyday basis would have immense trouble saying something like:

"how many persons can this dish feed?" (does this ven sound right in English anyway?)

in Mandarin without quite likely turning it into something like

"how many persons can this dish eat?". (I've heard it quite a few times, although nowhere near as prevalent as 'reverting' to someone)

It works just like Singlish really, the average level of Mandarin competency.

Singaporeans, even though saddled with poor linguistic ability generally speaking, have the ability to improve in leaps and bounds, but choose not to out of sheer collective laziness or inertia.

I can get by with this rubbish so why should I want to improve? I don't enjoy standing out and I would rather not get a feather in my cap than risk doing anything and potentially end up with a black eye.

I am digressing.

If you are keen on improving your Mandarin here, you have to learn from the right people. Spend some time with new immigrants from China (plenty here, including many students here to study English ironically enough), otherwise find some locals who are well versed in it.

If your grasp of the language is as you say, basic, don't ruin it by learning from the locals in coffeeshops, hawker centres or even your work colleagues.

You will be able to discuss mundane matters passably, but you certainly won't be able to get yourself understood discussing... more serious matters.

Hokkien is the primary Chinese non-manadrin dialect spoken in Singapore, since most of Singapore original settlers from China came from Fujian province, and often from the same townships and villages.

Understandably, a lot of it finds its way into spoken Mandarin here.

There are many schools, and individuals that offer Mandarin classes for adults, and I think it really is a good idea to find a good one if you are keen on improving.

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Postby teck21 » Wed, 18 Nov 2009 11:45 am

durain wrote:if you learn hard enuf, i am sure it will be as good as china. just like how i learning my singlish as it is getting as good as the singaporean.


I don't beleive how you manage to say in three lines what I do in about a million!

Uniquely Singaporean thing really.

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Postby SGBoyxxx » Wed, 18 Nov 2009 5:05 pm

durain wrote:
Cankles wrote:I know it's not going to be as good as China but just wondering what Chinese-speakers on this forum think.


if you learn hard enuf, i am sure it will be as good as china. just like how i learning my singlish as it is getting as good as the singaporean.


:lol: singlish

I join this forum is to correct my singlish :lol:

because I am a local here and ya speaking singlish to people sometimes I feel ashame. :oops:

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Postby durain » Wed, 18 Nov 2009 6:55 pm

if i speak the queen's english to the local, they just open their jaw and look at me. so i have to speak singlish to them, otherwise they wont understand a word i am saying.

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Postby EADG » Wed, 18 Nov 2009 10:48 pm

Well said, Teck

teck21 wrote:Singapore is one of the worst places to come to brush up on either English or Chinese language skills. I am unable to speak for tamil or malay since I have no familiarity with either.

Apart from a select few, the mandarin spoken in Singapore by the average mandarin-speaking 'native' Chinese Singaporeans is nothing like the sort of putonghua you are probably accustomed to hearing in China.

It is a mangled version of manadrin which incorporates English (or singlish rather) and oftentimes malay. It is full of turns of phrase that would make no sense at all to a 'real' mandarin speaker.

Maybe it ought to be called Singdarin or something, like Singlish.

Rest assured that most members of the public who speak manadrin on an everyday basis would have immense trouble saying something like:

"how many persons can this dish feed?" (does this ven sound right in English anyway?)

in Mandarin without quite likely turning it into something like

"how many persons can this dish eat?". (I've heard it quite a few times, although nowhere near as prevalent as 'reverting' to someone)

It works just like Singlish really, the average level of Mandarin competency.

Singaporeans, even though saddled with poor linguistic ability generally speaking, have the ability to improve in leaps and bounds, but choose not to out of sheer collective laziness or inertia.

I can get by with this rubbish so why should I want to improve? I don't enjoy standing out and I would rather not get a feather in my cap than risk doing anything and potentially end up with a black eye.

I am digressing.

If you are keen on improving your Mandarin here, you have to learn from the right people. Spend some time with new immigrants from China (plenty here, including many students here to study English ironically enough), otherwise find some locals who are well versed in it.

If your grasp of the language is as you say, basic, don't ruin it by learning from the locals in coffeeshops, hawker centres or even your work colleagues.

You will be able to discuss mundane matters passably, but you certainly won't be able to get yourself understood discussing... more serious matters.

Hokkien is the primary Chinese non-manadrin dialect spoken in Singapore, since most of Singapore original settlers from China came from Fujian province, and often from the same townships and villages.

Understandably, a lot of it finds its way into spoken Mandarin here.

There are many schools, and individuals that offer Mandarin classes for adults, and I think it really is a good idea to find a good one if you are keen on improving.
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Postby ksl » Thu, 19 Nov 2009 3:27 am

durain wrote:if i speak the queen's english to the local, they just open their jaw and look at me. so i have to speak singlish to them, otherwise they wont understand a word i am saying.
so do you charge for lessons? :)


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