Learning Mandarin has become more and more popular because of the importance of Mandarin. As one of the most multilingual countries in the world, Singapore has groomed a people that can travel worldwide without much communication problems. Singaporeans are usually fluent in English and their Mother Tongue. For example, if you’re a Chinese, you’ll learn English as your first language, and Mandarin as your second language in school, for at least 12 years of your life. Other than being educated in school, Singaporeans pick up their language skills in a variety of ways. If you’re an expat who is keen to brush up your Mandarin, we’ll show you 5 unique ways that you can learn Mandarin in Singapore.
Follow a Chinese TV show you like, or listen to Chinese music. In Singapore, we get to enjoy a mix of English channels, and Mandarin channels, among others. Aside from TV shows, we get to enjoy unrestricted access to Internet (unlike some countries), so we can watch shows on the Internet as well. For example, I like to learn from China’s Influential People on Yang Lan One-on-Ones talk show (check out this link for all their talk shows!. Did you know China has their own Oprah? Yang Lan is perhaps the leading female interviewer and talk show host in China. For decades, Yang Lan has interviewed the elite and influential in China. Businessmen, athletes, actors and societal leaders alike have sat down for a one-on-one talk with Yang Lan. Yang Lan recently interviewed Wang Nan, a table tennis player who was ranked #1 by the International Table Tennis Federation for four years. The topic was 怎样走过人生低潮 (zěn yàng zǒu guò rén shēng dī cháo), how to overcome life’s low points.
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Learn to Speak Mandarin by observing how Yang Lan asks questions. For example, she may ask: 你对成功的定义是什么？ (nǐ duì chéng gōng de dìng yì shì shén mē？) What does success mean to you? 你怎样能够突破难关？(nǐ zěn yàng néng gòu tū pò nán guān？) How do you overcome challenges? Learn and memorize one or two ways of asking open-ended questions. These will help you in your speaking and allow you to have great conversations in Chinese. I suggest focusing on just one particular show or mini-series to start with. You will become increasingly familiar with the characters’ voices with each passing episode, and it will be easier for you to understand their dialogue. Another example is China’s popular TV show, The Voice of China, which has just finished it’s fourth season. It is airing on Channel U. Many folk singers come to the stage to realize their music dream. In this show, you can not only learn to speak Chinese, but listen to Chinese music. You can observe how the tutors begin their conversation with the candidates. For example, when a candidate finishes his campaign song, the tutor Na Ying may ask, “你从哪里来？” “nǐcóng nǎlǐlái” “where are you come from?” And sometimes they will continue their conversation like “你的梦想是什么？” ”nǐdē mèng xiǎng shìshěn me” “What is your dream?”