Although English is the lingua franca in Singapore, speaking Mandarin will come in handy in a few situations.
Basic phrases like Gong Xi Fa Cai (Happy New Year) will gain you favour when Chinese New Year comes around. But beyond the basic functions of communication, what’s the point of learning Chinese?
In this article, we’ll look in-depth into the importance of learning Chinese and reasons why Singapore is the best country to learn the language.
This is true for locals, expats, adults and children. And, if I successfully convince you to sign up for a class, where would you go? Let’s find out!
Reasons to learn the Chinese language
Together with Spanish and English up in the ranks, Chinese is one of the most common languages spoken worldwide. In fact, it’s one of the official languages of the United Nations.
Ever since I was in primary school, I’ve been told countless times how important Chinese is. Today, as an adult, I would advise young me to speak it, breathe it, and live it.
Simple. For both personal and professional development.
China is rising as an economic superpower and that means speaking Chinese will land you more job opportunities.
A Chinese-speaking employee will be an invaluable asset in most major multinational corporations partnering with China. And these days, which company isn’t?
On a more personal scale, language is a powerful medium to unite and connect two unlikely cultures despite any differences between them. Conversing in Mandarin will lay the bricks in building bridges, be it with hawker sellers in Hougang or a Chinese colleague who’s just arrived in Singapore. Seriously – it’s a totally underrated tool!
Why Singapore is the Best Place to Learn Chinese
Singapore has been a Chinese-speaking country since the early 80s. So, it has a relatively established presence here. The Chinese ethnicity also make up 76% of the population.
This makes it a conducive environment for learning Mandarin.
As long as you’re out and about, you’ll have many opportunities to use the language every day. Many expatriates who immigrate to Singapore are amazed at just how similar it is to China.
Thanks to Lee Kuan Yew’s global and economical foresight, the Singaporean government made it compulsory in 1979 for all students of Chinese ethnicity to be fluent speakers of Mandarin.
It integrated a Chinese curriculum (that is taught in public schools till today) and students still go to great lengths to pass the proficiency tests.
This gave rise to the mushrooming of Mandarin enrichment classes and tuition centres to better equip students for these exams. Hence, Singapore has a HUGE number of Mandarin teachers who know the language (and culture) like the back of their hands.
Learning Chinese for Local Singaporeans
Eventually, learning Mandarin became of interest, not just to school goers, but to adults as well.
Singaporean ethnic Malays and Indians began to pick it up as a voluntary third language to increase their vocational skill set. Learning a new language also became a form of leisure or recreational activity.
The government’s sponsorship through the SkillsFuture programme incentivized learning Mandarin for Singaporeans, regardless of their ethnicity. So, instead of forking out SGD 1000 to sign up for a Mandarin class, Singaporeans only need to pay a fraction of the price with their SkillsFuture credit.
Learning Chinese in Singapore for Foreigners
As a foreigner in Singapore, you are excluded from the local government’s subsidies. However, if you’re living here via a work visa, there’s a chance that the company would sponsor your fees for professional development. They might even enrol you in one of these corporate Mandarin classes.
Most Chinese classes for adults have programmes suited for expatriate students. Keep reading to see if there’s one that may interest you!
Ways to Learn Mandarin in Singapore
When it comes to learning something new, there’s always the self-taught option which saves you more money.
However, joining an established class is a great way to fast-track your learning progress.
So how can you learn Mandarin in Singapore?
- Chinese Classes for Adults – For adults who want to learn written and spoken Mandarin as an additional language.
- Chinese Enrichment Classes for Children – Want your children to learn Mandarin? Start them young with supplementary and enrichment classes.
- Business Mandarin Classes – Business-focused Mandarin language courses that extend your Mandarin proficiency to meet corporate needs, like technical vocabulary, marketing speak and navigating the Chinese corporate world.
- Conversational Mandarin Classes – Speaking and listening classes that teach the basics of Chinese vocabulary and communication.
Most Chinese language centres offer small group classes so you can learn alongside other students! If you’re someone who needs a tutor’s undivided attention, then opt for a one-to-one private tutoring class. We’ve highlighted the key differences between private classes and group classes to help you decide.
22 Mandarin Enrichment & Chinese Language Courses in Singapore
Chinese Enrichment Classes for Children in Singapore
Linda Mandarin is an award-winning Mandarin language provider in Singapore. Linda Mandarin’s teaching methods have succeeded in creating more confident Mandarin speakers among the expatriate community in Singapore!
Small group lessons will cost $550 and private lessons start at $150 per hour.
Address: 137 Cecil Street Level 7, Singapore 069537
Han Hai Language Studio is in its 11th year as a trusted Mandarin centre in the heart of Singapore. Their native Chinese teachers are dedicated to helping working adults and professionals upskill themselves by learning the Chinese language.
Small group lessons will cost $560 and private lessons start at $74 per hour.
Address: 40A Orchard Road MacDonald House #03-00, Singapore 238838
Learning Mandarin doesn’t need to be mundane and repetitive. Not even in preparation for a language proficiency test! The interactive and engaging lessons for adults at Mandarin Plus promise you’ll have a fun time picking up the language. They also have mandarin language courses for children – perfect to learn together with your little ones.
Group classes for adults start at $525 and private lessons begin at $65 per hour.
Address: 6 Raffles Quay, #16-01, Singapore 048580
Ikoma Language School is the perfect Mandarin centre for Japanese expatriates in Singapore. On top of the regular Mandarin-English medium of instruction, the school also teaches Mandarin to Japanese speakers using Japanese as the medium of instruction.
Small group lessons begin at $370.
Address: 350 Orchard Road, #12-07 Shaw House, Singapore 238868
Chinese Enrichment Classes for Children in Singapore
At Apple Pie Language Centre, children from ages 3 to 8 can come to immerse themselves in the Chinese language through language arts and drama. While still meeting the Singapore curriculum expectations, the programmes help your children love learning Mandarin. Educational research says learning happens effectively through play, so Apple Pie Language is certainly doing something right!
There is a wide range of drama-related programmes for different age groups. Fees for each course start at $170.
Address: 6A Chun Tin Road, Singapore 599593
6. Little Mandarins
We get it: all children want to be surrounded by a fun and engaging environment for learning Chinese, but preparing for the PSLE Chinese exams in primary school needs a little bit of pressure and drilling! Enter, Little Mandarins – the best of both worlds for children. Little Mandarins offers language enrichment courses for the Singaporean exam prep student and is able to teach the language without being completely boring.
They also offer playgroups for mothers and toddlers as young as 18 months, up to 16 year olds! Prices are not listed, so please call to enquire.
Address: Block 71, Loewen Road, #01-03/04 Singapore 248847
7. Learning Pie Education
This Chinese learning centre has its roots in China where the first Learning Pie Education centre was founded in 2014. Since 2018, they’ve been teaching Chinese to children in Singapore using their original curriculum. Their method is not so much teach-to-the-test, but is effective in developing proficiency among children from 3 to 17 years old.
Address: 134 Jurong Gateway Road, #03-309F, Singapore 600134
Photo from Twinkle Stars Mandarin Centre
The approach to learning Mandarin at Twinkle Stars is very favourable among children and parents. Although test-prep seems to be the main focus of the centre, they still teach through a fun and supportive manner to help children build their confidence and love for Mandarin.
Address: One-North Gateway #01-39, One-North Residences Singapore 138643
9. International Mandarin
Primary and secondary school students in Singapore can take Mandarin test-prep classes at International Mandarin. The centre prides itself in successfully helping both local and international students ace their exams and further their studies with a distinctive proficiency in Mandarin.
A group class of six begins at SGD 300, whereas private classes are SGD 50 per hour.
Address: #24-10, 10 Anson Road, International Plaza, Singapore 079903
Together with the Chinese government, the Confucius Institute aims for Singaporean students at all levels (including adults) to have an extensive understanding of Chinese. They do this through an immersive learning environment for learning not just Mandarin, but the Chinese culture, as well.
Address: 11 Slim Barracks Rise Executive Centre, #08-01 Singapore 138664
EdLab is a subsidiary of Ednovation – one of Singapore’s top preschool providers and pioneers in educational technology for preschools. Their Chinese programme, taught via Zoom, focuses on training young children to recognize Chinese characters and develop their fluency in the language.
Imagine your child learning through an app that delivers the Chinese language curriculum in bite-sized, interactive lessons. LingoAce is designed in Singapore to do just that, and more. Children aren’t just tapping away at a screen to learn, as the LingoAce blended learning program lets students meet Mandarin tutors in person to guide their learning. Class fees are indicated on the website.
Address: TripleOne Somerset, 111 Somerset Rd, #04-01, Singapore 238164
Corporate Mandarin Classes in Singapore
Regardless of what industry you are in, you’ll be well-equipped with corporate business Mandarin at Yi Mandarin. Their clientele of corporate Chinese learners in Singapore include Google, Nike and the US Embassy here.
Address: 20 Kramat Lane #05-05 United House Singapore 228773
14. Elite Linguistic
Elite Linguistic does more than just teach Chinese vocabulary for business – they use their linguistic expertise to help you understand the mechanism behind the Chinese language. That way, you’ll be a more efficient and independent learner of Business Chinese.
Looking to learn Mandarin to converse with Chinese clients? Take a look at the conversational business Mandarin course provided at SCCIOB to help you develop a closer professional relationship with your clients.
Address: 9 Jurong Town Hall Road, #04-10 Trade Association Hub, Jurong Town Hall Singapore 609431
For 14 years, New Concept Mandarin has trained business professionals from various international banks, Google, and Facebook. The centre is originally from Hong Kong, although they’ve since expanded to Singapore to meet the corporate demands for Mandarin proficiency here.
Address: 141 Cecil St, Singapore 069541
17. Chinese Edge
In the business Mandarin classes, Chinese Edge teaches formal business Chinese extensively in writing, reading and speaking. Their learning materials range from economic journals to newspaper articles, so a prerequisite to this course is to have achieved HSK level 2 or above.
Address: 137 Cecil Street level 7, Hengda Building Singapore 069537
18. Kirin Mandarin
Kirin Mandarin’s business courses prioritize a better understanding of the language as well as how it is used in global and corporate communication. Students will be taught formal speaking structures and corporate vocabulary by native Chinese teachers.
Address: 60 Paya Lebar Rd, Lobby 1 Paya Lebar Square, Singapore 409051
Conversational Mandarin Classes in Singapore
LTL Mandarin School is well known for their conversational Mandarin classes among expatriate students. Fast, immersive and effective, the programme duration is also flexible. Pick the number of hours you want to learn and pay only for the time you spend there.
Their courses start at SGD 727 for 10 hours.
Address: 531A Upper Cross Street, #04-95 Hong Lim Complex, Singapore 051531
This multilingual language school might be the best option for expatriates in Singapore. They can pick up conversational Mandarin in small groups of 3 to 8, but the best part is that they have teachers who teach in English, Japanese, and Korean.
Address: 10 Anson Road #20-07 International Plaza Singapore 079903
If being able to converse in Chinese is enough for you, then you might consider the conversational Mandarin classes offered by Stanford Language Center. In just 2 months, you could be going from zero Mandarin to speaking it boldly in Singapore.
Basic group courses begin at a rate of $189 and private lessons at $67 per hour.
Address: 3 Coleman Street, #04-18 , Singapore 179804
A subsidiary of the Oxford Institute, this language school offers conversational Mandarin classes for adults. With English translations, you’ll confidently learn the grammar, vocabulary and expressions of Mandarin. These classes also demonstrate the norms and formalities of Chinese communication.
Address: 15 Enggor Street #10-03 Realty Centre Singapore 079716
Bonus Option – Learn Chinese with SmileTutor
SmileTutor is the #1 agency in Singapore for providing reliable home tutors in any subject, including Mandarin. All you have to do is to contact SmileTutor to set up a class with a tutor who will match your personal preferences (whether you’d like a male/female tutor, level of experience, duration of lessons, and budget). SmileTutor has a large database of tutors, so you will definitely be able to learn from the best chinese tutor for you.
Affordable Chinese Tuition Rates in Singapore
This is a long list of 23 Chinese classes in Singapore, and it could be overwhelming. Don’t worry though!
What should you do now?
First, identify your learning goals (are they conversational, professional, or are you looking to prepare for a test?).
Then, compare the centres based on the student reviews, your budget, or your ideal location.
After that, all you have to do is contact them to register your interest. “Hello, I would like to find out more about your Chinese classes.”
Good luck on your exciting journey of learning Mandarin!