21 Oct 2021

All You Need To Know About Learning Mandarin In Singapore

All You Need To Know About Learning Mandarin In Singapore

Learning a new language can be challenging but very fulfilling at the same time and the pros definitely outweigh the cons by leaps and bounds. There are also many other benefits of learning how to speak another language apart from being able to acquire a new skill. Some of them include a deeper appreciation for different cultures, opening doors for new opportunities, boosting your confidence, and helping you to advance in your career, just to name a few. 

But if you cannot decide on a foreign language to start with, we recommend learning Mandarin in Singapore

Did you know that according to Statista, Mandarin is the second most spoken language in the world for 2021? This probably explains why Mandarin classes in Singapore are so popular. 

If you are still on the fence about picking up a second language, this comprehensive guide, particularly focusing on the Chinese language, will help you to navigate through the difficulties and have a better understanding of how you will benefit from it. 

Part 2 – Learning the Chinese language in Singapore

2.1 Things you should know before taking up Chinese lessons in Singapore

Learning a new language takes effort, time, practice, and patience and you must be willing to learn from mistakes. This applies to all the different languages and not just to learning Mandarin, but is especially essential for the Chinese language as it is a tonal language where the meaning of a word is greatly affected by the tone. 

Unlike English in which the Latin alphabet, also known as the Roman alphabet, is used, Chinese is written in characters. Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanisation system for Mandarin Chinese. 

The basic sentence structure of Chinese is also similar to English where a subject-verb-object (SVO) formula is used. This familiar pattern will make it easier for you to form sentences when you first learn Mandarin, so it should not be too much of a challenge.

Though there are many things to learn, know that the best Chinese speakers practise the language all the time to brush up on their tonality and use the right learning materials to help them advance efficiently. It takes time but you will get there someday with perseverance.

2.2 Importance of learning the Chinese language

You might be wondering why taking up Mandarin lessons in Singapore is encouraged.

This is because mastering the Chinese language will help to propel you to greater heights since it is the second most spoken language in the world and China (whose predominant language is Mandarin) also has the second-largest economy in the world, according to ResearchFDI

Individuals who are seeking to infiltrate the Chinese market in terms of career advancement or business opportunities will find that knowing how to speak the language gives you an advantage. Being able to understand what people are saying gives you an edge over others who do not speak the language as you will be able to facilitate business negotiations better and close deals quickly.

However, it is also good enough of a reason to pick up the language if you simply want to learn Mandarin because you love the culture or enjoy watching Chinese dramas. Think about not having to wait for or read subtitles while binge-watching your favourite Chinese dramas – it is going to be an attainable dream with sheer grit and determination, and of course, with the help of Mandarin classes in Singapore.

In fact, it may even change your brain network functionally and structurally in a good way, according to researchers at Penn State University. Participants who learned the Chinese vocabulary “were more successful in attaining the information” and “showed a more connected brain network” compared to “those who did not learn the new vocabulary”. 

2.3 Benefits of learning Mandarin in Singapore

Learning the Chinese language will also help to make your resume look good (the more skillsets, the better) and put you at the forefront of more opportunities, particularly in Singapore where some companies have business relationships with brands in China. 

If you have always wanted to travel to China but have been hesitant due to the language barrier, mastering the Chinese language and knowing how to speak it fluently will resolve that woe. Apart from China, countless other citizens in a variety of countries speak Mandarin too, such as Taiwan,

Hong Kong, Malaysia, and even Thailand – though some of these countries do not have Chinese as their main language. Learning how to speak the second most spoken language in the world will help to make travelling a breeze. 

All seriousness aside, you can even spring a surprise on your Chinese-speaking friends one day, impressing them with your fluency and perfect tonality after going for Chinese lessons in Singapore

In case you did not know, you can use your SkillsFuture credits to learn Chinese too. 

Part 3 – Foreign language learning techniques

3.1 Effective note-taking techniques for language learning

Now that we have covered the importance of learning a new language, it is also worthy to note that being a good student also means studying effectively. Note-taking is indispensable when it comes to learning a new language as it keeps you awake, forces you to pay attention and helps you memorise information during lessons. However, effective note-taking is necessary so that you learn smartly rather than just blindly copying information down which will not do you any good. 

Foreign Language Learning Techniques

It is vital for you to figure out your learning style before starting to take notes during classes. There are four types of learning styles, according to Bay Atlantic University, namely visual, auditory, kinesthetic and reading/writing. Each learning style requires different techniques to learn best and has its own accompanying tips to help individuals excel. 

Here are in-depth explanations on the four learning styles and how you can take notes productively

Visual learning style

Visual learners prefer to take in information visually, such as through pictures, videos, maps, graphs, charts and more. But not all visual learners respond well to photos and videos so it is important to find out what works best for you through trial and error. Visual learners also appreciate understanding the relationships between ideas so if you are struggling to make sense of a concept or word, chances are you may benefit from connecting them to a situation or visual. 

You may want to keep a notebook or folder filled with pictures, diagrams and graphs that will help you understand the language so you can refer to it anytime. For instance, when learning Mandarin, you can pair an action verb such as “jumping” with a picture of the action to help you visualise what the word means. 

Auditory learning style

Like its name suggests, auditory learners take in information better through audio and will usually say things out loud to understand the concept. It is best that information is presented to auditory learners via lectures and discussions where they can participate and voice their opinions or record audio and listen to it again. 

You may want to try recording down lectures so you can revisit them and practice the pronunciations for different words, or gather some friends who are also learning the language to practice together. You will probably also benefit from the text-to-speech function which can help in making concepts easier to understand. You can also try listening to music or watching videos without subtitles or translations to train yourself to remember what the words mean and get a better comprehension of the different tones.

Kinesthetic learning style

Kinesthetic learners are hands-on people, often preferring to learn by doing. They relate to and learn better through personal experiences, examples and simulations where they are involved. For instance, they may be able to remember a word and its meanings quicker if they have experienced using it themselves in real-life situations. 

You may benefit from writing down words and their meanings on paper to help you remember them or actually using the language in everyday life such as when purchasing items from someone who speaks that language and talking to your language teacher. 

Reading/writing learning style

Reading/writing learners primarily benefit from lots of reading and writing. They may prefer to read notes and textbooks or practice writing down words, especially when learning Mandarin as the Chinese characters have many intricate strokes. They typically perform well on written tests too. 

If you think you are a reading/writing learner, try taking written quizzes or tests to help you improve while learning a new language. You will also probably benefit from doing lots of reading but it is important to choose the right materials so your efforts do not go to waste. 

Note that some people may fall into more than one category of learning style while having a more predominant one. If you find yourself being a mix of two learning styles, then perhaps a combination of different note-taking techniques will suit you more. 

Learning styles aside, a rule of thumb for note-taking is to always focus on one idea at a time to prevent confusing yourself with too many things at one go.

3.1.1 Tips on learning the Chinese language

Now that you are equipped with all the information as to why you should go for Chinese lessons in Singapore and tips on how to benefit from them, here is some extra advice on how you can excel in the language. 

As mentioned previously, the Chinese language is considered a tonal language since different tones change the meaning of a word entirely. Thus, it is imperative that you listen to real people speaking Mandarin as much as possible. Apart from conversing with Chinese speakers, there are also videos online you can refer to – it is one of the best ways to brush up on your pronunciation. But if you are looking for something more interesting, listening to music and looking at the lyrics at the same time might also help you to memorise words. Another way is to watch Chinese dramas with Chinese subtitles to kill two birds with one stone as you will be listening and reading at the same time. 

Learning the Chinese language also involves writing Chinese characters but it can be tricky at times because there are rules to the stroke order. It is recommended that you do not be fixated on rules when you first start learning how to write Chinese characters, but rather, try your best to be familiar with patterns so you will remember them like the back of your hand. 

Exchanging conversations as much as you can and never being afraid of making mistakes are also some of the best ways to master the Chinese language as soon as possible.

3.2 Benefits of learning virtually

A Woman Learning Mandarin Virtually

If you were wondering whether it is necessary to head down to a physical classroom for lessons, you will be glad to know that virtual lessons are very much available for language classes! Learning virtually has never been easier with the advancement of technology and there are also many benefits. 

Greater flexibility and comfort

Having language lessons virtually means you do not have to rush down to the centre, giving you more flexibility in your time, especially if you are on a busy schedule. It is also undoubtedly more comfortable to learn from home since it is an environment you are familiar with. 

Better use of multimedia features

Learning virtually also means you get access to multimedia features, putting them to good use while picking up a new language. Videos and audios will help you to get a better idea of how to pronounce words while interactive grammar correction tools will assist you in forming proper sentences. 

Encourages self-directed learning

Being disciplined enough to practice is one of the most important parts of learning a new language. Learning virtually encourages self-directed learning as you will have to take initiative to find materials to help you advance as well as formulate goals to achieve. You will also have to figure out your learning style so you know which way will benefit your learning process the most. 

Access to notes and homework anytime

Mandarin classes in Singapore are typically accompanied by coursework and notes but virtual lessons make it easier to access them easily regardless of your location, as long as you have an internet connection. You will be able to learn anytime and anywhere which also means no excuse to laze around! 

3.3 Make learning a foreign language part of your routine

Learning a foreign language is not an easy feat but making small habit changes to your daily routine will go hand in hand with them to help you master the language faster than you think. 

Change your phone settings to your target language

The average person spends a few hours on their phone every day – using it to shop, send emails, text, scroll through social media, and binge-watch shows. Since the majority of our time is spent on our phones, apart from other commitments like work or study, changing your phone settings to your target language may prove to be more useful than expected. Changing your phone settings to Mandarin, for example, will force you to look at Chinese characters all day long, helping you to memorise them. 

Binge-watch your favourite series with subtitles in your target language

Ever heard someone say they learned a new language from watching shows? For instance, many K-pop and K-drama fans picked up Korean through watching their idols and favourite television series. So if you are really determined to learn Mandarin, you can try watching shows in Chinese subtitles or watch more Chinese dramas to hear them speak firsthand. Netflix supports subtitles in a variety of languages so this streaming platform is a good place to start. 

Keep a notebook of words and their definitions

A Woman Learning Mandarin Writing on a Notebook

It is only normal to encounter words you do not know when learning a new language so it is important to keep a notebook which you can jot down on whenever you see something you do not understand. Search up the definition and write it down too so you can always whip the notebook out to revise or help you when you are in a situation where you will have to use certain words. It is kind of like a mini dictionary to make the journey of learning a new language easier.

3.4 More tips on picking up a new language

Apart from Mandarin, learning Thai is also really popular in Singapore so if you are considering picking up the language, here are more tips to help you. 

There are 28 vowel sounds in Thai that can be divided into simple and complex vowels. They can be either short or long and some have more than one part to them. It is key that you get the hang of these vowels to be able to form proper sentences. 

It is also recommended to start off with learning simple phrases that you may use in your daily life, such as “How much is this?”, “Where is the washroom?” and “How are you?”. These phrases will be able to help you converse with Thai speakers, albeit at a beginner’s level, so as to slowly build your confidence and assist you in improving. Rest assured that such phrases will usually be taught in a Thai language course in Singapore.

Next, creating an immersive environment that will stimulate your learning is crucial too. If you are not living in Thailand, your next best bet would be to listen to Thai talk shows, watch Thai television shows and speak out loud in Thai when practising the language. A good habit is to think of a Thai sentence to substitute your English sentence whenever you feel like speaking. Otherwise, going for Thai lessons in Singapore will be very beneficial too since you will have a teacher to clarify any of your doubts with. 

You will also have to learn the Thai script, also known as an abugida, to write Thai sentences. The writing can be a little complex for novices so it is best to sign up for Thai classes in Singapore to learn and practice with a professional guiding you. You will also be able to chat with other classmates who are interested in learning Thai, helping you to improve your conversational skills at the same time.

Happy Students That are Working Together in Learning a New Language

All that said, we cannot reiterate the importance of learning a new language enough, simply because there are so many benefits to it. 

Although there are many languages to choose from when deciding on a course, mastering the Chinese language will help to give you access to 1.4 billion humans’ worth of business, learning, cultural and educational opportunities. More employees are also looking for talents who are bilingual to help bridge the gap between different countries so it is always a good idea to take up language classes if you have the time and are certain you will persevere.

In our current society with the pandemic still raging on, adaptability may just be your most essential skill in landing a new job, making new friends or being given more opportunities. Being able to speak another language can also help to enhance the feelings of connection and encourage interaction – life is going to be a lot more interesting rather than bleak during these tough times. 

If you are convinced and want to start going for Chinese lessons or Thai classes in Singapore, consider Stanford Language Center. We are a language school in Singapore offering classes not just for learning Chinese and Thai, but also Vietnamese, Indonesian, Korean and Japanese. All of our teachers are native speakers so you can rest assured you will be taught the most authentic way to speak the language. 

We have online language courses available for sign-ups too. You may also choose to use your SkillsFuture credits for language courses to learn Chinese to upgrade yourself. 

Applying online for a Mandarin course at Stanford Language Center using your SkillsFuture credits is easy. Simply send an email to info@stanford.com.sg with your full name, chosen course name, the date you would like to join, and your contact number. We will then generate an invoice and send you the steps to using your SkillsFuture account to sign up for a course. 

It is perhaps time to start a fun and brand new journey in picking up a new skill!