1. People are taking English courses in Singapore so they can meet and talk to people
English is one of the official languages of Singapore. If you can speak English well, you will be able to talk with more people. We are social creatures, and Singapore has many, many people from many, many different countries; but they all have one common tie that unites all Singaporeans and foreigners to the country, and that’s the ability to speak English.

2. People are taking English courses in Singapore so they can use the Internet and Social Media
Singapore is a hub of technology, and as advancements in technology increases, so does our need to know English. The Internet was ‘born’ in the USA (sorry, Bruce Springsteen!), an English-speaking country – in fact, when the Internet first came out, English was the only language available online. Today more than half of the content on the Internet is in English, according to Wikipedia. Knowing English means you can read more information online. As well, social media gives English speakers a wider audience and more exposure; if you can communicate in English, you can use these social media tools to reach a wider number of people.

3. People are taking English courses in Singapore for their current job, or because they want a better job

Like it or lump it, English speakers do tend to get the better jobs, and get selected for hire before a non-English speaker. Some occupations require English, such as the commercial air industry. The ability to use English proficiently can lead you to a new job, a better job, or a promotion in your current job. With over 1.5 billion English speakers in the world, there’s a high chance that you will encounter some of these English users in your work – wouldn’t you like to be able to communicate with them, instead of asking your colleague to speak to them because they know English?

4. People are taking English courses in Singapore so they can visit other countries
English is not only the official language of the commercial air industry, it is a common language among travellers. Whether you want to visit Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States or any other English-speaking country, or just want to travel abroad, you are going to have to communicate with people in those countries; and more often than not, the majority of people we meet are English speakers. If you go to many tourist destinations in Singapore, tour guides often give their tours in English.

5. People are taking English courses in Singapore for school or university

This is one area that requires a good demonstration of spoken and written English. Many schools in Singapore use English to teach, as well as in universities; if you want to study in an English-speaking country, you are required to have a satisfactory score on an English proficiency exam. Even in non-English countries, some school and university courses are only offered in English.

6. People are taking English courses in Singapore for Science, Medicine, Economics, Law, Engineering and Politics
With the increase in knowledge, research, medical breakthroughs, technical advancements, engineering and diplomacy, there is a stronger need to communicate in English. Much of the research is published to the English speaking world, making it more accessible to a wider audience.

7. People are taking English courses in Singapore for Movies, TV and Music
With Hollywood blockbusters like Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and award winning films like Schindler’s List, The Revenant, Life of Pi and Titanic, movie goers must be able to understand English in order to enjoy these wonderful films. Television offers entertainment at home, and in Singapore, the majority of channels are English, offering excellent programmes in English. Even the international news channels like CNN and Channel News Asia are aired for English users.

From Elvis Presley to the Beatles, from Madonna to Lady Gaga, there is a universe of excellent music in English. English music has become a universal language in its own right, and songs that have become internationally popular are on radio stations around the world. Successful bands do world tours, and will often perform in non-English speaking countries. Music brings together people, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs. Music speaks to the soul, and many non-English people enjoy listening to English songs, and following their favourite bands and artists.

8. People are taking English courses in Singapore for social status

The ability to speak English fluently is admired and sought after in many countries around the world. Learning a language to the level of proficiency is difficult, and the fact that a non-English speaker can demonstrate their English skills is a mark of hard work and dedication, which can gain respect, awe or even envy. You become an inspiration for others.

Michael Bunyak

English Teacher at Canadian Education College, Singapore