The impulse to learn an additional foreign language can come from all sorts of places: whether it’s watching a recent serial drama, an opportunity to work overseas, or simply out of pure curiosity and interest.
Regardless of your motivation, here is what you need to know if you want to learn a foreign language in Singapore.
Questions To Consider Before Taking Up A Foreign Language
1. What level of proficiency do I want to achieve?
Are you happy with being good enough to exchange simple greetings? Or do you want it to be proficient enough to work comfortably with the language in a business environment? The quality of learning will vary with your choices.
2. How much time am I willing to commit?
Are you currently on vacation with loads of free time? Or are you a busy bee and with little time to squeeze even during the weekends? The latter will likely limit your options for language classes, though recently some course operators have embraced flexible hours and e-learning to cater to busy schedules.
3. How much money am I willing to spend?
Are you on a shoestring budget with next to nothing to spare? Or is the sky the limit for you? The former may require you to make additional sacrifices or stick to budget-friendly choices, while a bigger budget will open up a whole plethora of options.
The Pros And Cons In Choosing A Language School
The Cast of Mind Your Language. A+ for camaraderie when the entire class failed their English test together. (Source)
Given the proliferation in digital channels, language schools are no longer the only players in town. One might ask, “Why bother with language schools?”
The reality is that courses in language schools often do not come cheap. However, if you’re a Singaporean above 25, you have the option to tap on your $500 SkillsFuture Credit to defray a portion of the cost of approved courses.
However, having to pay for a structured language classes may encourage the sunk-cost fallacy (in a positive way), as you might invest more time and effort to master the language to get your money’s worth versus learning for free online.
Additionally, language schools follow a planned schedule, with the support of textbooks and other classroom materials.
Some might view this structure as overly rigid. For fast learners, this could mean feeling frustrated at not maximising his learning potential, while slow learners would feel the difficulty of catching up.
On the other hand, there are others who prefer following such a structure with specific goals and objectives, which fosters a sense of completion. The weekly facetime also serves to keep one on track with the pace of the class.
Structured courses offer you the opportunity of networking with like-minded people from all walks of life who share the same interest in the language. You could help each other with homework and develop a closer personal relationship through bonding activities after class.
Similarly, it can be argued social activity sites like Meetup perform the same function, enabling one to meet more new people because almost anyone can join the event. For those looking to maximise the number of new connections through one-off events, Meetup may be more suitable.
However, for those looking for deeper connections, language classes may be more conducive as they foster a tightly-knit community. As the classic television comedy Mind Your Language demonstrates, a foreign language class can be a lot more diverse and hilarious than you think.
Language Schools Available
Depending on your budget, there are a wide variety of options available for learning different foreign languages across different language schools. For example, there are course providers who provide professional certification at completion, which can help pad your resume.
Here are some of the possible options:
Indonesia’s rapidly growing economy and dynamic population offers countless opportunities for workers and businesses wanting to make it big. Also, knowing Bahasa Indonesia means you could have better luck avoiding the higher “tourist prices” when visiting tourist attractions.
Lingo – $250 for 18 hours of classes, which can be completed either in 9 or 12 weeks.
Indoslang – $400 for 12 weekly 2-hour Small Group Classes. $1400 for 10 weeks of 1 to 1 Private Class
Indotutors – $795 for 36 hours of classes, completed between 18 days to 18 weeks.
The language with the most native speakers in the world, Chinese is a versatile language commonly used in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In China, being able to speak Chinese will be advantageous to building your “guanxi” or “network”, which is vital for your professional success.
Stanford Language Centre – $189 for 10 Lessons of Basic Conversational Mandarin
Linda Mandarin – $580 for 10 weekly 2-hour classes, $50 material fee/student
Yi Mandarin – $600 for 12 weekly 2-hour Conversational Mandarin classes, $50 material fee/student
French is spoken in over 53 different countries. The French are deeply proud of their national language, and by being willing to embrace the language (or at least some simple phrases), the locals could be a lot more amenable to your asking for directions.
Alliance Francaise – Regular Beginner: $360 for 24 hours of classes completed within 8 weeks; Beginner Crash Course: $670 for 48 hours of classes within 4 weeks. $30 annual student membership.
French Studio – $290 for 20-hours group classes, starts from $25/hour for small-group French private tuition
French Toast – $125 for 4 weekly 2-hour classes for Conversational French, $295 for 8 weekly 2.5-hour classes for Beginner French
Learning Japanese helps you watch manga and anime in their original meanings without the help of subtitles. While major cities like Tokyo and Osaka are increasingly catering to tourists with English and Chinese signs, knowing Japanese is still an asset for those adventurous enough to wander off the beaten track, to visit less touristy places featured in Japan Hour.
The Japanese Association, Singapore – From $240.75(members)/ $272.85(non-members) for 10 weekly 2.5-hour classes. Inclusive of textbooks and materials.
Tomo Japanese Language Centre – $390 per term of 10 weekly 2-hour lessons, $10 for Beginner Textbook. 1 to 1 Private Classes at $300/hour.
Ikoma Language Centre – $390 per term (3 hours x 10 sessions), $20 for Textbook usable for 2 terms. $20 Registration fee applies.
Riding on the Korean Wave, learning Korean helps you enjoy the best that Korean culture has to offer, whether its Korean dramas, songs, you name it. Given more Singaporeans are traveling to Korea, speaking the language enables you to function as your own tour guide when bringing your friends along.
Sejong Korean Language School – $240 per term for Express Classes (3 weekly lessons, 4 weeks), $360 per term for Regular Classes (1 weekly lesson, 12 weeks). Both comprise of 12 x 1.5-hour lessons.
GANADA Korean Language Centre – $262 nett for Part-Time Course, $342 nett for Full-Time Course. Both comprise of 9 x 2-hour lessons.
ONLYOU – $240 for 8 x 1.5-hour Foundation Korean Lessons. $50/hour for 1 to 1 private lessons. Price Inclusive of Textbook and Materials.
Alternatives To Language Schools
While language schools remain a popular way of learning a foreign language, some may dislike the idea for one reason or another. Recently, alternatives have sprung up to disrupt this market traditionally dominated by language schools, giving consumers more options to learn a foreign language.
For visual learners with short attention spans, Duolingo is an online platform which uses interactive games and quizzes to make learning a new language fun.
These websites come with added flexibility which caters to every schedule.
If you are an incoming or current local university student, you can take up a foreign language module in university, which encompasses all the five foreign languages mentioned above and more.
For those with tight budgets but feel they learn best from a traditional classroom setting, community clubs typically serve as an affordable alternative to language schools. For example, 12 lessons of Conversational Mandarin can go for less than $100.
Bored of the classroom? Why not meet up with like-minded language lovers for regular learning and sharing sessions? With over 50 social groups in the Language and Culture category alone, there are opportunities for you to pick up different foreign languages first-hand through fun social activities.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
While improving your language proficiency is the goal, it is equally important to be open-minded to new experiences and enjoy the entire learning journey. By adopting a growth mindset, learning a foreign language truly be a lifechanging experience.