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Singlish to English By The British Council

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By: Goy Soon Ting Elisa
21 October 2009

46Singapore — Got many luggages? Or not?

According to Matt Winchester, Deputy Branch Manager of British Council in Marsiling, the proper standard English should be “Do you have much luggage, or don’t you?”

This was one of the examples in the Singlish vs Standard English workshop, which highlighted common Singlish phrases used by Singaporeans.

The workshop, held last Sunday, examined the differences between Singlish and English. It was the limelight of the events conducted at the Woodlands Regional Library with the aim of improving Singaporeans’ English.

In the workshop, Winchester taught participants how to spot standard English. He also reviewed the common grammatical mistakes made by students such as ‘yet’ and ‘already’ and uncountable and countable nouns.

Besides these, he also raised awareness among the participants on intonation and stressed syllables.

Most of the participants came with the purpose of learning how to improve their standard English. Hemalatha aged 31, a housewife with two children, said, “I want to learn more about the correct English to teach my kids.”

During the workshop, participant Ellen Tan, a 60-year-old retiree, said, “Singlish is a mixture of local dialects and other official languages. For example, the usage of Malay words like ‘makan’ is poor English.”

Tan also said that she is against children speaking Singlish because Singlish conversations articulated by children affect their command of standard English, which is especially evident when children are told to write an essay.

The interactive workshop attracted a group of approximately 30 people from all walks of life. Short exercises and references, which were prepared by the British Council, were distributed to all participants.


This two-hour long workshop was organised jointly by the British Council and the Speak Good English Movement. Participants were required to register for this workshop in advance via e-mail. The places were allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

After the workshop, participant Jenny Wong, a 48-year-old homemaker with two children, said, “This workshop is useful and it has helped us to correct our grammatical mistakes such as the usage of ‘already’ and ‘yet’ and we have learnt that the word ‘equipment’ is an uncountable noun.”

Winchester said that The British Council is a source where people can learn British English and hopefully, Singaporeans will use Singapore standard English in the right context.


Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

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