Singapore is a multicultural and multilingual state with four official languages: English, Chinese, Tamil, and Malay. English is widely used in most corporate environments, but Chinese is the most dominant language in informal settings. Singaporean English, Singlish, is also local take on standardised English, making it almost unintelligible to those not from Singapore. Therefore, learning Chinese would be the next best alternative for anyone staying in the country for an extended period.
There are many institutions offering Mandarin courses, ranging from universities, language schools, community centers, and in private tutors. Each institution differs services they provide as well as how they teach the language. Therefore, you should be very alert when choosing a learning center to ensure you get one that is in line with your needs and objectives. Some of the factors to consider while selecting a Chinese learning institution include:
The cost of learning Chinese is a big concern for most people. Some learning centers have very high prices while others are relatively lower. Learning a new language is a worthwhile investment, but you do not have to drain all of your savings while at it. However, some situations like a tight work schedule may cause you to spend more on a private tutor who is more flexible.
- Quality of Learning
Many private schools are available for Chinese students in Singapore, but you may want to look at government endorsed institutions if you are looking for a center offering high-quality service at lower rates. Community centers in Singapore also provide high-quality service at an attractive rate. Remember that the cost is not related to the quality provided and you may end up paying more for poor services.
- The Class Size
A large class size may be appealing to most people, but it does not give you individual attention from the teacher. You may want to pick a smaller class since the tutors can reach out to everyone and help your weakest areas. However, a bigger class may also provide an opportunity for you to meet other people from all over the world and learn their different cultures. Friends from the same class tend to communicate more often making it easier and fun to learn Chinese.
- Class Hours Available
Most universities and community centers in Singapore will offer fixed daytime classes, but some have evening classes. Learning Chinese at these places may be challenging for expatriates working during the day. Therefore, it is essential know available time slots available depending on your work schedule. Most private language schools will always offer evening and weekend classes, so you should not have a problem getting into a class of your choice.
- The Time it takes to complete the Course
There is no definite time that one can take to become fluent in Mandarin but a Chinese learning center should have estimates for the time that people take to learn a new language. The time varies from one school to another, but most offer between 5-30 hours a week for a specific amount of time. The time also depends on your current learning stage and the level you want to attain. For example, anyone at beginner level would take longer learning Chinese than someone at the intermediate level.
Choosing a Chinese learning center in Singapore is a complicated issue, but this guide will help you get one that suits your needs. Remember that some schools are more expensive than others and price is not directly related to quality. You can check with government endorsed institutions before settling for a school or ask for referrals from your colleagues and friends.