Sure, you know there are four official languages in Singapore but you might also have heard some of the dialects and other lesser-known languages spoken by selected segments of the community.
If you’ve been curious about learning some Chinese dialects (also known as non-Mandarin vernaculars) spoken in Singapore, here’s how you can!
If you’re looking to learn Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese (which collectively make up about 77% of the total Chinese population in Singapore), join a series of workshops by My Father Tongue from mid-February to late March 2016.
These workshops will be conducted in English and held at various locations such as Chinatown Heritage Centre and selected community clubs and you will be taught basic vocabulary and phrases such as numerals and simple daily instructions. The best thing is, the classes will be free for the public to join by registering here: www.myfathertongue.sg.
The website also has a Survival Kit for all of three dialects, along with a transliteration system and audio recordings by professional dialect speakers so you can also easily learn common phases such as "thank you" and "take care".
Targeted at business owners, professionals and higher management who could use Hokkien to enhance business relations, the "Conversational Hokkien Course" offered flexible timing and dedicated coaching. You will learn Hokkien dialect tones and pitch accent along with numbers, directions, seasons, weather, time, colours and more. Get more info here.
3. Clan Associations
Clan associations in Singapore have a long history and today they also serve as an avenue to learn dialects. For example the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Cultural Academy, established by the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, offers "Basic Conventional Hokkien Course" for those who would like apply the language to various social contexts. More info here.
Tapping on the knowledge and experience of senior citizens in Singapore, Viriya Community Services’ "Learn My Dialect" programme promotes the learning of various dialects at $40 per class per hour, (capped at maximum class size of 30 students). It also lets them interact with the young and enhance inter-generation bonding.
Muneerah Bee, January 2016
Photo: My Father Tongue