5 Places To Learn Chinese Dialects So You Can Say More than “Jiak Ba Buay”5 min read
It’s time to master your (grand)mother tongue.
Learning Gen Z terms is so last year. Now it’s time to impress your grandparents by learning their dialect! Besides being able to communicate with your grandparents (and maybe get a bigger ang bao next Chinese New Year), and discovering more about the cultures of different dialects, learning Chinese dialects can also be useful when we get to travel after this pandemic!
Did you know that people in Hong Kong don’t actually speak Mandarin, but Cantonese? And the Taiwanese language is quite similar to Hokkien. So if you’re planning to travel or work in these countries in the future (like me), it’d be very advantageous to know how to speak Cantonese and Hokkien!
Don’t say I not nice never share hor – I’ve researched and found five schools in Singapore that you can learn different dialects from. Hopefully, after taking up these courses, you can move past superficial phrases such as Jiak Ba Buay (Have you eaten?) or Lei Hou Mou (How are you?).
inlingua School of Languages
Image source: inlingua
If you’re interested in learning Cantonese or Hokkien, you can consider taking up language lessons at inlingua! The school has both part-time and individual courses running every month, so you can tailor a learning process more suited to your needs.
I know, we’re going through a sensitive time right now with the pandemic and all these different social restrictions in place. No worries! The team at inlingua can arrange for your lessons to be conducted virtually, so you needn’t even step out of your home.
Image source: LearnDialect.sg
Although most Singaporeans speak Hokkien and Cantonese, few are aware that Teochew is also one of the main Chinese dialects spoken here! In fact, it is a top 3 Chinese dialect!
There aren’t a lot of places where you can learn Teochew, but if you’re interested, you can check out courses from LearnDialect.sg. This school was founded by a couple who experienced first-hand how difficult it can be to live in another country, without knowing how to communicate in their native language. Thus, they set out to help younger generations learn different dialects in Singapore.
The classes here are all held physically and you’ll be able to learn the basics of Teochew, Cantonese or Hokkien in just two four-hour lessons with them. I heard that their class spaces fill up quite fast. So hurry, register your interest if you’re keen!
Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Cultural Academy
Image source: Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Cultural Academy
Step up your Hokkien game with the OG, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan. This organisation has a cultural academy arm where it runs regular workshops to teach those interested in learning the Hokkien dialect.
In their 4-week workshop, they not only impart knowledge on conversational terms, but also make it interactive through role-play, games, and songs. To keep up with these pandemic times, they’ve also included COVID-19 related terms in their latest syllabus. Wah, so good right?
Find out more here: Hokkien
I know, learning a new thing can be scary, but mai kia (don’t be scared)! Get your kakis or your whole village to come learn with you at these schools.
Spring College International
Image source: Spring International
If you’re looking for a formal educational institute to learn your dialects from, you’d be glad to know that the private institute Spring College International also offers courses on Cantonese, Hokkien and even Shanghainese!
However, these classes are held on-demand, where they will start a class only when there are at least five students. So if you’ve four other friends interested in learning a Chinese dialect with you, the five of you can start a class at Spring College International. It’d be like going back to school, but you get to pick your classmates!
Find out more here: Spring College International
Viriya Community Services
Image source: Viriya Community Services
Not enough friends? No problem. Viriya Community Services has on-demand dialect-learning courses – Learn My Dialect – and they only need three students to kick off a class! My favourite part of the courses at Viriya is that they actually get Singaporean seniors who speak the language to teach the classes! You cannot get more authentic than that.
Participating in the Learn My Dialect programme would also help seniors to remain connected to society, build up their social network, bridge communication gaps with the younger generation by facilitating inter-generational bonding and promote active ageing.
Find out more here: Viriya Community Services
Go forth and conquer
Now that you know there are so many places where you can learn Chinese dialects from, there should be fewer excuses to not learn how to speak your grandmother tongue. So mai tu liao (don’t delay) and go get your kakis to sign up! I’m sure your family will be very impressed.
Information is correct at the time of publication.
A Millennial who practically lives on Instagram. Digitally savvy, this uni-undergrad has shopped in almost every possible online shopping site from A to Z. But her street-smartness is not matched by her laziness. She knows a lot, and keeps her pulse on the hood.