Thursday, 28 September 2017

More young Singaporeans signing up for dialect classes

In 2015, some 12 per cent of Singaporeans said they spoke mainly Chinese dialects at home. That’s down from 14.3 per cent in 2010, and 18.2 per cent in 2005, according to the General Household Survey.

But more and more, younger Singaporeans are going back to school to learn their grandparents’ tongues – in large part, to bridge that linguistic gap between the generations.

Catering to them are groups like Viriya Community Services, which started free Learn My Dialect classes in 2007 to build awareness and promote intergenerational bonding.

Classes were once conducted every three months – these days, it is more like three times a week, at the request of clients who include schools, community centres, groups and hospitals keen on training their nurses.

"We see a growing interest from those in the medical field and those doing community outreach programmes, because they deal mainly with the elderly who understand only dialect," said Michelle Cheng, 33, Viriya’s senior programme executive.

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You may want to view Grandfather's Language - a video about a grandfather teaching his grandsons hokkien.

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