Studying Mandarin in Singapore

So since last month we have quite a few students going to LTL Singapore to study Mandarin because it is possible to travel there without quarantine and an immediate 90 day visa on arrival for most countries.

Singapore is an amazing city/country, but much more international than mainland China or Taiwan with English being widely spoken too. There are also several Chinese dialects like Hokkien and Cantonese that are quite popular, though Mandarin is replacing them quite quickly at the moment.
Pretty much every taxi drivers I met there was listening to a Mandarin radio channel.

There is a huge mainland Chinese community there (all our homestay families in Singapore are actually from mainland China) who speak perfect Mandarin, though Malay, English and Tamil are of course also spoken in Singapore.

Its an expensive city though, so its not a cheap place to travel and study in.

I am preparing some information for students who had planned to study at LTL Beijing / Shanghai / Taipei which due to the travel restrictions is not possible and might want to go to Singapore now instead of waiting until the borders open at some unkown time in the future.

Not sure who has been to Singapore on here - what would you say are the advantages / disadvantages of studying Chinese there? Any great reasons you could think of why going to Singapore is an awesome choice right now (except the open border)?

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Hi Andreas,

I greatly appreciate your information on Singapore. This is a silver lining,
even if I have set my sights on Taiwan (or mainland China) and won’t get lured to Singapore.

If I am not mistaken, this is the first time I’ve seen it spelled out in black on white from the side of LTL: access to to TP and Mainland China is barred for the time being.

Tübingen University Chinese Language students are apparently among the chosen few (category “international students”) allowed in - LTL students do not enjoy that academical priviledge or so it seems?

Btw, the self-deprecating style of your shorthand CV the other day made me laugh. Great job! Thanks!


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Hey, a true blue Singaporean here and learning 汉语 as well. My 母语 belongs to one of the race you mentioned. To be frank, its kinda hard to give you a straight yes or no answer if coming to SG is a good opp to 提高你的汉语水平.
Singapore by and large is a English speaking country. You can survive here without Mandarin, but cannot survive here without English.
For me, accent is one of my biggest observation. Singaporean Mandarin is pretty different from Mainland Chinese. If you can differentiate the accent, then well done, you are on a whole different level in your Chinese learning. Word usage too, but to be frank this should concern you like 5% towards your Mandarin language learning.
If you want to have a gauge how Singaporean Mandarin sounds like, please watch this movie in Netflix called “I not stupid” “I not stupid too”. The whole premise basically is set up from a Singaporean perspective. Disclaimer, movies were from 2002-2006. Even for myself, I feel that SG has changed so much over the years. Personally, I learn with Native Chinese teachers. Just a prefence for the 标准的普通话. To some Chinese SGreans, its 很难听. Overall, any native Mandarin speaker will have no trouble understanding one another despite the difference in accent.

In terms of Singaporeans attitude towards Mandarin as their mother tongue, some love it, some hate it. I guess you prefer to be in a company of those who loves Mandarin. I personally feel its not that difficult to find this group of people. Tons of videos on YouTube ridicule SGporeans not being fluent in Mandarin. I bet to differ. Most went through 10 years of compulsory Chinese learning, or slog their way through it. No offence to anyone, but to a 12-16 year old, having to memorise poems, learn about Chinese history, rote memorise 成语 is just so different to an adult learner whose learning it out of interest. I would say in terms of the information they learn, its definitely much more than the HSK materials. Okay I realise I digress quite a bit, but the point I want to mention is there are people here who are fluent in Mandarin. You will find them one, confirm guarantee plus chop.

Language usage
Most automatically talk to you in English. Reactions are different from Mainlanders too. Mainlanders usually will like “你的汉语怎么这么好?!” Singaporeans will most probably be like “你怎么可以讲华语”. Pretty subtle difference, one is in awe, with the other not so easily impressed but curious. But yes, if you speak in Mandarin to others, most will respond back in Mandarin. But opportunity to use Mandarin is not as crazy as China. You just have to make an extra effort to speak more Chinese.

If your preference is to follow a school curriculum, Advanced level courses are very hard to come by. Beginner to Intermediate are plentiful.

Standard of living here is pretty high. Cost is pretty expensive.

Chinese dialects is quite common among the elderlies.

I believe one of the biggest advantage is we have so many culture here, you wont just pick up Mandarin. You might even pick up Malay, Tamil and most importantly Singlish. And the ability to code switch.


Singapore is opening it’s borders for ANYONE vaccinated from the 1st of April.
Pretty exciting. If anyone fancies living with a real Chinese homestay and study Mandarin in an immersed environment, this is the time to book. LTL Singapore is up and running.
Personal recommendation: go for the homestay, they are excellent. Native Chinese families from the mainland who moved to Singapore for their kids education or work. Great Chinese food, very traditional culture and a lot of Mandarin all around.
Here a blog post from a current student there Two Weeks in Singapore // My Thoughts & Progress So Far


That’s exciting to hear! I believe Korea is also opening its borders on April 1st to anyone vaccinated. Now hopefully Japan and China will follow suit soon!


I second that!

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Yes and we are starting to teach Korean in Seoul from the 1st of April :star_struck: