Being an international hub for business, and more and more for tourism too, learning languages is a popular pursuit with people in Singapore, both Singaporeans and foreigners. Here’s the top-7 of languages most learnt in Singapore by adults.
Germany is respected in Singapore for its quality products and as a holiday destination. There are a number of high profile German companies in Singapore, including Deutsche Bank and Lufthansa. While German is an important language in Europe, it’s also recognized as one that is hard to learn if you don’t have a European language as mother tongue. (See available German classes)
Singapore is far from Spain and South America, but Latin culture is very appealing for its cuisine, dances (think Salsa), tradition and history. Many of those who learn Spanish in Singapore do so mainly out of interest, since it’s relatively hard to find a business application for the language, due to Singapore’s location. With the economic rise of South America, that may change in the foreseeable future, though. (See available Spanish classes)
French holds appeal as the second language on the international stage. Besides, it’s the language of art and literature, and besides in France, it’s an operating language in Belgium, Switzerland, and many African states. Not to mention that French companies make themselves count in Singapore as well. Did you know that the Circle Line is built by the French ALSTOM conglomerate? (See available French classes)
Moving into the top 4, we start seeing languages that are closer to home. Korean has become tremendously popular in Singapore, due to its pop culture, including music groups and tv shows. For many in Singapore, being able to understand dramas and music in native Korean is an important motivation to learn Korean. Not that there are no other good reasons to learn Korean in Singapore: Korea is also a popular travel destination, and there is a large community of Koreans in Singapore, many of whom are still struggling with English. So being able to speak with them in Korean holds real value. (See available Korean classes).
With all the talk about China’s economy surpassing Japan’s, we shouldn’t forget that Japan is still out there and playing an important role as an economic and technological center. Since English isn’t widely spoken in Japan, businesses in Singapore understand that they need to service their Japanese customers in their own language. Besides that, Japanese products hold a lot of appeal (clothing, fashion, gadgets … even cars) and Japan has a long history. So there are both economic and cultural reasons to learn Japanese. (See available Japanese classes).
As we move to the most popular languages to learn in Singapore, though, we see languages that are actually spoken natively in Singapore. So why are adults learning Mandarin in Singapore, wouldn’t they have learnt it in school? One group of learners are older Chinese Singaporeans who were previously English educated. Others are foreign professionals working in Singapore: Indonesians, Filipino’s, Vietnamese – often with an ethnic Chinese background. As well as Westerners who have come to Singapore to work here and would like to take advantage of the opportunity to learn Chinese. (See available Chinese classes).
What other language than English could be at number 1? While you won’t get lost in Singapore when you can speak Mandarin, English is essential if you want to achieve anything in Singaporean society. The economy and education system operate in English, and you need to speak English to communicate with Indian, Malay Singaporeans, and even some Chinese Singaporeans. When people come to Singapore to work, English is not optional as Mandarin, it is a must. Maids are required to learn English to be allowed to stay in Singapore.
Besides, with Singapore becoming an important hub for higher education, those who come to Singapore for study from elsewhere in the region, often opt to improve their English before starting their course. (See available English classes).
While these observations are based on our experience in the language area in Singapore, experience is always a bit subjective and we don’t claim to have absolute knowledge. People might approach others instead of yago for certain languages. If you feel we over- or underestimate certain languages, please let us know in the comments!