The living proof of Singapore’s cosmopolitan status is her adoption of four official languages, namely Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English.
English is the medium of education and business – it is the first language taught in school and the main language used in the workplace.
In addition to learning English, students study their mother tongue - Mandarin, Malay or Tamil - in school to ensure that they maintain their cultural heritage. Most Singaporeans are therefore bilingual, if not multi-lingual.
The predominant usage of English means expatriates and foreigners living in Singapore find it is one of the most easily adaptable countries in Asia.
Singaporeans also speak a local brand of English that tends to startle unsuspecting English speakers when they first set foot here. Affectionately known as Singlish, it is a hybrid of mainly English, Malay and Chinese dialects, giving rise to a unique patois that is often a talking point in itself! Be patient and you’ll grasp the key phrases and expressions soon enough – start by adding a “lah” to the end of a sentence. However misplaced, it will garner you lots of smiles for the effort!