Learning a Second Language Singapore

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Learning a Second Language in Singapore: Supporting Language Development from a Young Age

Are you a parent thinking of enrolling your child to learn a second language?

In 2023, we have an increasing number of parents looking to start immersing their children in their mother tongue especially in Nursery and Kindergarten, before Primary school education.

Interestingly, we have Malay and Indian parents starting basic Chinese tuition for their child; learning English in school, teaching Bahasa/Hindi at home, and immersing in basic Chinese with tuition. Afterall, it is easiest to learn a language when young.

Learning a second language can be an enriching experience that provides individuals with numerous benefits, such as the ability to communicate with a broader range of people and enhancing cognitive and social skills. 

In Singapore, a country with a rich multilingual culture, there is a strong emphasis on learning multiple languages from a young age. 

Places to Start Learning Second Language Singapore

Private Tuition Classes

Private tuition classes is a popular medium used by parents in recent times, especially starting in Nursery and Kindergarten. 

Chinese tuition
Malay tuition
Hindi tuition
English tuition
Phonics tuition

Fees charged by tutors are also lower as the level and intensity they are teaching at is much lower (S$15-25/h

Language Pre-Schools

There are countless pre-schools in Singapore that provide basic language learning and teaching, such as phonics and second languages (mother tongue). 

You can look for second language preschools near your neighbourhood. Fees charged are usually higher as the preschool centres provide many additional services such as daycare and cleaning services (See: Home Tuition vs. Tuition Centre)

Benefits of Learning a Second Language in Singapore

Boosting cognitive development

Research shows that learning a second language can improve cognitive functions such as problem-solving, memory, and attention span. 

In Singapore, where students are exposed to multiple languages from a young age, bilingualism has been linked to better academic performance, especially in areas such as mathematics, science, and languages.

Enhancing communication and cultural understanding

As a multilingual country, Singapore values cultural diversity, and learning multiple languages can help individuals communicate more effectively and empathetically with people from different cultural backgrounds. 

It can also promote cross-cultural understanding, helping to foster tolerance and respect towards others.

Improving employability and global opportunities

In today’s globalized world, bilingualism can be a valuable asset in the workplace. In Singapore, where English is the primary language of business, being proficient in another language can enhance one’s employability and provide opportunities for working with overseas clients and partners.

Challenges of Learning a Second Language in Singapore

Competing demands for time and resources

Singapore’s education system is notoriously competitive, and students often face competing demands for time and resources. 

Learning multiple languages requires additional time and effort, which can be a challenge for students juggling academic and extracurricular activities.

Many parents often don’t keep up with regular immersion of their mother tongues, hence losing the touch after a couple of months of non-practice. Even parents that enrol their children in mother tongue classes in Nursery and Kindergarten often do not continue in Primary school. (See: 5 Reasons Home Tuition is Important in Singapore)

Difficulty in mastering multiple languages

Learning a second language can be challenging, especially if the learner does not have a strong foundation in their first language. 

It can also be difficult to master multiple languages, as each language has its own unique grammar, syntax, and vocabulary.

Limited exposure to non-native languages

In Singapore, English is the dominant language, and students may have limited exposure to non-native languages outside of the classroom. 

This can make it challenging to practice and improve language skills in real-life situations.

Tips for Supporting Language Development from a Young Age

Start early

Research suggests that children who are exposed to multiple languages from a young age are more likely to become proficient in both languages. 

Parents can expose their children to multiple languages by speaking to them in their native language, reading bilingual books, and enrolling them in language immersion programs.

Create a supportive learning environment

Learning a second language can be challenging, and students need a supportive learning environment to succeed. 

Parents and teachers can create a supportive learning environment by providing positive feedback, creating a safe space for making mistakes, and providing opportunities for practice and reinforcement.

Use immersive learning methods

Immersion is one of the most effective ways to learn a second language. Immersive learning methods involve exposing students to the language in real-life situations, such as through language camps, study abroad programs, or by watching movies and TV shows in the target language.

Practice consistently

Consistency is key to language learning. 

Students should aim to practice their language skills regularly, whether it be through speaking with friends or family, reading books in the target language, or using language learning apps.


In conclusion, learning a second language in Singapore can provide numerous benefits, including cognitive development, cultural understanding, and global opportunities. However, learners may face challenges such as limited exposure to non-native languages and competing demands for time and resources. To support language development from a young age, parents and teachers can start early, create a supportive learning environment, use immersive learning methods, and encourage consistent practice. By doing so, learners can improve their language proficiency and reap the benefits of being bilingual or multilingual.


  1. What are some of the most commonly spoken languages in Singapore?
    • The most commonly spoken languages in Singapore are English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil.
  2. At what age should children start learning a second language?
    • Children can start learning a second language as early as six months old, but the critical period for language development is from birth to age five.
  3. What are some language immersion programs available in Singapore?
    • Some language immersion programs available in Singapore include the Language Immersion Programme (LIP), which is offered by the Ministry of Education, and various private language schools and institutes.
  4. Is it necessary to be fluent in multiple languages to be successful in Singapore’s job market?
    • While being fluent in multiple languages is not a requirement for all jobs in Singapore, it can be an advantage, especially in industries that require international communication and collaboration.
  5. Can adults learn a second language as effectively as children?
    • While children may have an advantage in language learning due to their brain’s plasticity, adults can still learn a second language effectively through consistent practice and immersion.


Miriam is part of the team that operates CocoTutors: #1 Home Tuition Agency in Singapore. We connect Parents and students to Tutors, via our tuition-matching system. You can try out our services at (www.cocotutors.com/) or by calling +65 9177 9055 directly.

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