Effects Of Multilingualism In Singapore

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Singapore is being known for its multi-racial society as well as having a ‘rojak’ of languages. There are four official languages in Singapore: English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil. English is the lingua franca of Singapore while Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil act as the mother tongue for the different ethnic groups. This paper will analyse the multilingualism situation in Singapore by focusing on the three main ethnic groups in Singapore, namely Chinese, Malays, and Indians. Multilingualism, in this paper, refers to the ability to converse and write in two or more languages.

1. Chinese in Singapore
According to 2010 Census, Chinese is the dominant ethnic group in Singapore making up 74% of the resident population (Department of Statistics Singapore, 2010). The official mother tongue for the Chinese is Mandarin. Most Chinese respondents are able to speak two or more languages and almost half of them are able to speak English, Mandarin, and dialect (refer to diagram 1.0). A bulk of these respondents from the age group of 41 to 55 years old can speak those languages as they grew up in the transitional period of the education policy where they were exposed to the different languages.

Despite being able to speak these three languages, the survey showed that respondents are more proficient in English than the other two languages (refer to diagrams 1.1, 1.2). More than half of them are not proficient in speaking or writing in dialect, which proved that the “Speak Mandarin

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