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The best language schools in Singapore

French. Arabic. Coding. Sign language. At these language schools in Singapore, learn to speak in different tongues – and different gestures

By Kylie Wong and Megan Sim
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Beyond dialects and Singlish, there’s so much more to Singapore’s linguistic landscape than you think. Whether you’re sick of relying on subtitles or determined to spruce up your resume, head to these language centres and say goodbye to (sometimes wildly inaccurate) online translators. Did we mention the overseas immersion trips, social nights and movie screenings that you can look forward to?

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The Singapore Association For The Deaf

Things to do Geylang

Sign language varies from country to country so if you’re looking to pick up some Singapore Sign Language (SgSL), The Singapore Association For The Deaf is the place to be. SgSL is a combination of Shanghainese Sign Language (SSL), American Sign Language (ASL), and Signing Exact English (SEE). Study visual language basics and develop your gestural communication capabilities. By the end of the course, you’ll have no problem fingerspelling, greeting others and introducing yourself. Beginner courses go for $180 for 24 hours of lessons. 

Inlingua

Things to do Classes and workshops Orchard

Pursue your polyglot dreams, one language at a time at Inlingua, which offers classes in 13 different languages, including Burmese, Thai, Hindi, Portuguese and more (from $390). The school emphasises verbal communication, and a large part of each lesson is devoted to honing the confidence of its students to speak in a different language. Role-play and simulations are involved, providing the students ample opportunity to pick up as much useful vocabulary as possible. 

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Elite Linguistic Network

Things to do Classes and workshops Jurong East

This one is for the working folks. Elite Linguistic's Chinese courses are specifically designed to help professionals and executives cultivate their Chinese language skills, be it beginner level or advanced – that includes Chinese business lingo, business culture in China, and more. Of the many courses they run, the highlight has to be the experiential learning programme, with lessons that take place at a Chinese tea house ($480). Running two hours per week for 12 weeks, students learn to speak the Chinese language while enjoying Chinese tea and cookies, developing an appreciation for the beverage in the process.  

French Toast Language Centre

Things to do Classes and workshops Bishan

This specialised French language school is successfully registered with MOE, and is run by native French teachers who have years of experience. A conversation course for adults starts from $250, and besides language lessons, students can look forward to a gamut of events from wine-tasting classes to French singing contests. The school also has a library of French literature and novels that students can borrow, free of charge.     

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Russian Language Center

Things to do Raffles Place

Russian may seem like an intimidating language to learn – but that’s where the Russian Language Center comes in. Complete beginners can sign up for the start courses ($300) that focus on basics like greetings, directions and the Russian alphabet. Choose to learn in groups or get one-on-one tuition. When you're confident, you can progress to more advanced classes ($500) where you can learn more about the language’s linguistic intricacies, then put your newly expanded vocabulary to practise by joining one of the centre’s annual trips to predominantly Russian-speaking countries.

Sejong Korean Language School
Photograph: Unsplash

Sejong Korean Language School

Things to do Raffles Place

If you’re tired of waiting for the (sometimes badly) dubbed version of your favourite Korean drama, Sejong Korean Language School’s got you covered. The language centre offers a range of beginner, intermediate and advanced courses (from $360/term). Those looking to up their Korean game as fast as possible can opt for the express classes – thrice-a-week lessons that run for a month ($240).

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Alliance Française
Arron Teo

Alliance Française

Things to do Newton

With more than 70 years of experience, Alliance Française de Singapour is undoubtedly the reference in terms of language schools in Singapore! Classes here range from holiday camps for the young ones to expert courses where you deconstruct demanding literary texts. Beyond French lessons, Alliance Française also frequently organises a wide variety of cultural events like art exhibitions, book clubs, just to name a few. Be sure to join them for French Fridays that take place every last Friday of the term where you can give French a try at its Free Trial classes, followed by a comedy screening in its theatre.

Goethe-Institut

Things to do Outram

Goethe-Institut offers German courses (from $300 for beginners) and exams in over 90 countries across the world. Standard German courses are structured according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) and intense exam prep classes are geared toward preparing students for centrally administered Goethe-Institut exams. Keep the learning going after class by browsing the library and media resources that you’ll have access to after registering for a course there.

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Al-Markaz

Things to do Rochor

Learn the ins and outs of the Arabic script at Al-Markaz. Fittingly located in Kampong Glam – Singapore’s Arab enclave – the language centre offers both introductory and modern standard Arabic classes (from $275). Al-Markaz even organises frequent study trips to the Middle East to ensure an immersive learning experience for all their students. If you're just looking to dip your toes into the do's and don't's of Arabic culture, it also has a cultural course available. Its impressive clientele includes big names like the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The Discovery Channel, and our very own Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

Spanish Studio

Things to do Marine Parade

Drawing on a wide range of teaching methods – from role-playing to analysing Spanish newspapers, watching films and listening to popular Spanish tunes – classes here are never dull. Led by native Spanish teachers, group lessons ($290 for 20 hours) largely focus on conversational Spanish while one-on-one sessions ($70/hr) cater to those looking for slightly more rigour.

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Ikoma Language School

Things to do Classes and workshops Orchard

Ikoma has a long history in Singapore as a language school. Established in 1996 and registered with MOE, the school has been expanding ever since, with its first outpost in Tokyo having opened in 2015. The school offers Japanese, English and Mandarin classes, with Japanese being the most popular. Its basic Japanese classes are taught by native speakers, and they start from $390 for 60 hours of lessons. If you're looking to conquer the learning curve as quickly as possible, they even offer classes that run up to four hours daily (from $375). 

General Assembly

Things to do Classes and workshops Raffles Place

Some say that coding is the language of the future – we don’t disagree. Get ahead with General Assembly’s expert-led training in computer programming  – on campus and online. Here, you’ll write simple commands, explore HTML and CSS, and learn how you can build your own website by applying these programming languages. Following the basics, you can choose to continue self-learning with its online network, or go even further with its job-ready developer course. 

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Yi Mandarin
Yi Mandarin

Yi Mandarin

Things to do Orchard

Clueless when it comes to Mandarin? Give the beginner conversational Mandarin courses (from $500) at Yi Mandarin a go. After a few sessions, you’ll be able to exchange greetings, ask for directions and engage in simple conversations. You can even choose to speed up your learning with intensive classes that run up to thrice a week. Those feeling ambitious can join the business and professional Chinese courses (from $360) that are tailored for corporate clients and students that already have a reasonably good grasp of the language.

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