Taking Chinese Classes in Singapore (in 2022) // Michael’s Story at LTL
Today we have a special guest post from one of our students who is taking Chinese classes in Singapore.
Michael came from the USA to Singapore in early 2022 to study Mandarin with us.
So far he’s having a whale of a time and making great progress with his Chinese.
He tells his story below (which also includes a bonus Youtube video where he speaks with us about his experience in further detail).
We hope you find it useful.
Learning with LTL in Singapore | Getting to Singapore
Learning with LTL in Singapore | First Impressions
Learning with LTL in Singapore | My Homestay
Learning with LTL in Singapore | Life in Singapore
Learning with LTL in Singapore | Chinese Classes in Singapore
Learning with LTL in Singapore | Other Useful Points
Learning with LTL in Singapore | FAQ’s
Getting to Singapore
Hello everyone, my name is Michael Scroggins.
I’m a psychology student based in Houston, Texas, and this is my story at LTL Singapore.
I’ve only been here for three weeks at the time of writing, but it’s been a once in a lifetime experience. Below are some anecdotes, tips, and what life looks like in Singapore for me.
Learning a language when you don’t have many people to practice with is frustrating.
I live in a part of Houston that doesn’t have much Chinese community, so I was pretty much alone in my quest for fluency.
So I decided I might as well go to somewhere that has a lot of Mandarin speakers.
Great timing, right? A world-wide Pandemic and China’s closed borders.
But spontaneity is good for everything besides marriage, so I decided why not, let’s do it.
Three transfer flights, a night on the airport floor, and a stop in Canada, I was on my direct flight to Singapore.
Landing in the airport and shuffling through the COVID screening and immigration, I grabbed a taxi, forgetting to exchange my USD for Singapore dollars, and after we both figured out how to pay with card, I was at my hotel for the quarantine while my PCR test was being analyzed.
As soon as I was found negative, I hit the streets, and I remember how giddy with excitement I was seeing everything around me.
The cars, buildings, people walking along the streets, the dozens of unique shops, and my brain trying to understand how far I was from home.
There were so many things to see, do, understand, so many different cultures, people, and my favorite thing: food.
I cannot stress enough the plethora of aromas coming from the small mom and pop restaurants, dotted and almost hidden along the street. Almost every culture is represented food-wise, and if you have a food allergy or restriction, that’s not a problem.
I plan to stay for another four months, and I’ve sincerely enjoyed my experience so far.
If you are adventurous and love trying new things, Singapore is the place for you.
On the first day, I was welcomed warmly by my homestay family. They gave me my own room and thankfully my own air conditioner.
Rayna, her son Casper and Nancy, their helper, have been amazing in my settling me into Singapore.
Nancy knows how to cook just about anything, and Rayna made sure that I had everything I needed: driving me to the phone store when my SIM card wasn’t working, showing me good restaurants, and inviting me to activities with her friends.
People in Singapore are extremely friendly, especially to foreigners.
The day I got accommodated into the homestay, I was invited for drinks and hotpot with a friend my mom has here.
Rayna and I were already at the phone store and my mom’s friend said Rayna could join us.
10 minutes in, Rayna and my mom’s friend were exchanging WeChat information, a popular Chinese messaging service, and already seemed to be good friends. Then the next day, I was treated to tea and snacks by one of Rayna’s many friends, who then invited me to their home and introduced me to one of their friends.
On and on, I found myself four layers deep in friend-of-a-friend invitations.
My mandarin is not fluent whatsoever, but their kids explain in English and the adults are very patient, always teaching me new words and explaining if I become lost in the conversation.
Life in Singapore
Though my stay has only been about three weeks, I’ve found that life in Singapore, though a bit pricy, is extremely convenient.
People from the States will know that most cities in America lack convenient and efficient public transport.
Here, buses are everywhere, and the subway stations called MRT’s can get you anywhere in less than an hour.
Anywhere in this country you can travel via public transportation, and if you want a quicker option, there are taxis and private ride apps a dozen.
Even better: Singapore is extremely safe.
I’ve found that people here aren’t afraid to walk around at night.
You can go for a jog in the cool (less hot but still hot) air, take a stroll for a snack at the 7-11, a 24-hour canteen, or enjoy a few drinks, as I did!
Just use common sense.
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Chinese Classes in Singapore with LTL
The classes, though, were the thing I worried about the most before I came here.
After all, my education is the most important part of this whole shebang.
Both my teachers though are extremely experienced and very patient. I opted for the in person and offline option.
The in-person classes are my favorite. The classes are great and she even gives me snacks. Online is still very good and also worth it. No snacks though.
What classes will look like will depend on what the student wants out of their lessons.
If they want to write better, read better, speak better or work on all three, your lessons will be shaped by your goals and your teacher.
I’ll be honest, reading is boring to me, so I prefer to practice speaking and listening with my teachers.
Usually, I’ll just start a conversation with them, talking about what I or they did the previous day, and if I run into a word I don’t know, which so far is probably about every three to four sentences, they write it down and define it for me and give me some examples on how to use it.
I arrived as an almost complete beginner and my classes have increased my mandarin level to the point where I can converse on a basic level with my homestay, which is where I get most of my out of class practice.
I can order food most of the time without issue, and when I get lost, I can ask for directions.
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Other Useful Points
Out of class speaking is the best supplement for improving your Mandarin level.
It’s scary and when they look at you like you are speaking gibberish, just know that starting is hard and you are going to mess up.
It’s not a big deal, every language learner goes through it. Persevere and soon the intimidation will go away.
Speaking of social anxiety, my biggest fear when coming to Singapore was that I was going to be extremely lonely.
Of course, it’s a different country very far away. I don’t know anyone there. Am I just going to sit in my room all day?
I was lucky that my mom has connections here, but LTL provides a social outlet for all students that come here.
Every Monday they meet for dinner as a hawker center so that all the students can meet each other.
Some students organize their own hangouts, so don’t be shy to join.
Also, your homestay family will more than likely offer to take you places and enroll you in some of the things they do.
I’ve even been invited to a few basketball games at Rayna’s child’s school which was fun!
Overall, I’ve felt homesick sometimes, sure, but I have plenty of things and people to keep me occupied.
Everyone’s experience is going to be different, and I have only scratched the surface on what this country has to offer.
Overall, I’m glad I decided to come to Singapore. Every new place I go to is an adventure and the progress with my Mandarin has given me enthusiasm and accomplishment. If you’ve got time and some money, come drop by this beautiful country.
A huge thanks to Michael for taking the time to write about his experience in Singapore so far.
Want to join him? Drop us a message, we love welcoming new students to this amazing little country.
To finish, we’ll leave you with a video from another one of our very happy students, Omar from Venezuela.
Chinese Classes in Singapore // FAQ’s
Do I have only one teacher?
On some occasions yes, on others no but we do ask if you have a preference please do tell us.
We will strive to provide what you prefer. This will depend on your current ability and teacher availability.
Whether you have 1 or 3 teachers, this won’t make a difference to your progress. All teachers meet and discuss classes so you will not cover the same topics twice.
Will I progress quicker taking individual lessons?
Yes you will. With the individual class everything is up to you.
With groups the teachers have a number of students to cater for. Individual classes make quicker progress.
Can I learn in Singapore and also other LTL schools?
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