Learning Mandarin has become more and more popular because of the importance of Mandarin. As one of the most multilingual countries in the world, Singapore has groomed a people that can travel worldwide without much communication problems. Singaporeans are usually fluent in English and their Mother Tongue. For example, if you’re a Chinese, you’ll learn English as your first language, and Mandarin as your second language in school, for at least 12 years of your life.
Other than being educated in school, Singaporeans pick up their language skills in a variety of ways. If you’re an expat who is keen to brush up your Mandarin, we’ll show you 5 unique ways that you can learn Mandarin in Singapore.
Follow A Chinese TV Show
Follow a Chinese TV show you like, or listen to Chinese music. In Singapore, we get to enjoy a mix of English channels, and Mandarin channels, among others. Aside from TV shows, we get to enjoy unrestricted access to Internet (unlike some countries), so we can watch shows on the Internet as well.
For example, I like to learn from China’s Influential People on Yang Lan One-on-Ones talk show (check out this link for all their talk shows!. Did you know China has their own Oprah? Yang Lan is perhaps the leading female interviewer and talk show host in China.
For decades, Yang Lan has interviewed the elite and influential in China. Businessmen, athletes, actors and societal leaders alike have sat down for a one-on-one talk with Yang Lan. Yang Lan recently interviewed Wang Nan, a table tennis player who was ranked #1 by the International Table Tennis Federation for four years. The topic was 怎样走过人生低潮 (zěn yàng zǒu guò rén shēng dī cháo), how to overcome life’s low points.
Learn to Speak Mandarin by observing how Yang Lan asks questions. For example, she may ask:
你对成功的定义是什么？ (nǐ duì chéng gōng de dìng yì shì shén mē？)
What does success mean to you?
你怎样能够突破难关？(nǐ zěn yàng néng gòu tū pò nán guān？)
How do you overcome challenges?
Learn and memorize one or two ways of asking open-ended questions. These will help you in your speaking and allow you to have great conversations in Chinese. I suggest focusing on just one particular show or mini-series to start with. You will become increasingly familiar with the characters’ voices with each passing episode, and it will be easier for you to understand their dialogue.
Another example is China’s popular TV show, The Voice of China, which has just finished it’s fourth season. It is airing on Channel U.
Many folk singers come to the stage to realize their music dream. In this show, you can not only learn to speak Chinese, but listen to Chinese music. You can observe how the tutors begin their conversation with the candidates.
For example, when a candidate finishes his campaign song, the tutor Na Ying may ask, “你从哪里来？” “nǐcóng nǎlǐlái” “where are you come from?”
And sometimes they will continue their conversation like “你的梦想是什么？” ”nǐdē mèng xiǎng shìshěn me” “What is your dream?”
Order Your Food In Chinese
Make it a habit to order food in Chinese as there are many Chinese restaurants and hawker stalls operated by Chinese speakers. Visit http://www.ladyironchef.com/tag/best-chinese-restaurant and http://travel.cnn.com/singapore/eat/best-chinese-restaurants-singapore-361730 to check out some of the best Chinese restaurants in Singapore (Singapore has really good food :)). Or if you have a tighter budget, http://www.hungrygowhere.com/hawker-food should suffice.
Then you can seek every chance to speak Chinese with Chinese speakers in the restaurants. You can begin your talk like this:
“qǐng wèn nǐ mēn diàn lǐ dē tè sè cài shì shěn me?”.
It means “What are your special dishes in your restaurant”.
Take Part In Chinese Social Media
In Singapore, we’re blessed to have little censorship in terms of access to information. We can get access to both Western and Eastern Internet. Social media is one of the core of Internet nowadays.
As a Chinese learner, you may feel embarrassed when talking with someone in Chinese face to face. Sometimes you should even think over your words before one sentence. Then your conversation may be delayed and you cannot achieve the desired effect of your talking.
At this point, you can talk with someone on social media as your first step. There are many kinds of social media in China. For example, WeChat is the most popular social media in China. You can sign in to WeChat and add some Chinese people. Take an initiate talk to them. During your conversation, you will learn how to express yourself. As a matter of fact, everything will go your way when you talk with someone in Chinese face to face.
Read A Chinese Magazine
For a Chinese learner, reading fiction might be a little difficult. If that is the case, pick up a magazine. It’s a less serious way of learning Mandarin that would not be as daunting as say, reading a Chinese newspaper or attending a Chinese language beginner course. In Singapore, we have a wide variety of Chinese Magazine for you to choose from.
There are short articles in these magazines, trivia, biographies, documentaries and etc. Interesting sections that would arouse your love for Chinese gradually.
When you come across some words you don’t know, you need not to look up in a dictionary immediately. Just write down the words you are not familiar with and after finishing reading an article, you can turn to a dictionary and check the usage of the words. Then remember them and try to use them by making sentences and even use them in your daily life.
When using Chinese in your daily life, you’d better talk with a Chinese or a person who knows Chinese, and then if you make mistakes in using, they will pick up your errors so that you can revise your words. By doing so, you will learn more and more Chinese words. Remember to keep going. For learning a language, it is important to stick with it. If you stop learning in halfway, something you have gained will be in vain.
Attend A Mandarin Course
There are dozens of Mandarin language schools all over the island where you can learn Mandarin from, but for quality assurance, I would first go to a certified Mandarin language school, like Linda Mandarin. We provide accredited Chinese language courses at all levels. From conversational Mandarin courses, to Business Chinese courses, to HSK and IB Chinese courses, we provide it all. At a reasonable rate, it seems like a no brainer for someone who is keen to learn Mandarin in Singapore to attend these kind of courses, especially since our tutors are from China – you get to learn Mandarin from the real masters! I would stay clear of sketchy private schools with no testimonials and no track records of success from their students.
I hope this article is useful in providing insights on unique ways that you can learn Mandarin in Singapore. Now go apply these techniques before you forget!