Singapore is an amazing place.
Practise your English by listening to facts, tips and cultural information about this unique city state which hosts Vivaling`s head office.
Thanks for the participation of Elie and Loh Waihong.
Asia is a marvellous continent full of fascinating cities, incredible natural landscapes and historic cultures. VivaLing has a number of very important people in Asia working in an office in Singapore.
In today’s podcast, I would like to focus on this unique city state and help our listeners understand what makes Singapore such a special place.
We also have 2 special guests, Elie and Loh Waihong, who live in Singapore, talking about the city from their perspective.
As usual, I would like to start with a question.
You cannot buy, sell or use chewing gum.
You cannot annoy somebody by playing music in the street.
You cannot forget to flush a public toilet.
You cannot wear shorts on public transportation.
Answers at the end of this podcast.
Before we listen to our guests, I would like to give you some facts about things I think are important about Singapore. Pay attention because I will ask some questions at the end to make sure you remember them.
The name Singapore comes from the Sanskrit words Lion City. Apparently back in the 13th century, a prince called Sri Tri Buana saw a strange beast a bit like a lion. He thought this was a sign of good luck and called the island Singapura. In fact, the animal must have been a tiger and not a lion. There were never lions in this region, but we all make mistakes.
For 136 years Singapore was a British colony. The famous Raffles hotel was named after Sir Stamford Raffles, who was the first governor-general. In fact, Sir Stamford Raffles, who was born on a ship called “Ann,” only ever spent 8 months in Singapore. His main success was in keeping Singapore from the French, the Dutch and the Portuguese and allowing it to grow into the multicultural city we know today.
Singapore is not a cheap country to visit. In fact, its GDP (gross domestic product – this is the amount of money produced in Singapore per year divided by the population) is one of the highest in the world at $65,000 per person in 2019. Please note that this does not mean that everybody in Singapore is rich. Like most countries, there is a wide range of poor, middle income and rich people.
Now let`s listen to Elie and Loh Waihong, who know much more about Singapore than I do. They talk about some things which are very important for Singaporeans – Singlish, hawker centres, a special type of food and Wednesday nights on Clarke`s Quay. See if you can understand what they say about them.
“An interesting fact about Singapore is that we have 4 official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. On top of that, we use an unofficial language, Singlish, which originates from a mixture of these 4 languages. In the past, due to everyone speaking different languages, communication between Singaporeans was met with some difficulties. Hence, in order for us to understand one another, Singaporeans starting simplifying words from their own mother tongue for ease of communicating. Nowadays, although most Singaporeans are fluent in English, speaking Singlish has become a part of our culture.
To best have a truly Singaporean experience, I would recommend a visit to our hawker centres. The cultures surrounding hawker centres are an integral part of Singaporean society, so much that it is on the UNESCO Intangible Culture Heritage list. In hawker centres you will see people from all walks of life gathering to dine and bond over cuisines from around the world. They are by no means the fanciest looking places, but hawker centres are without question rich in culture. In fact, you may find many Singlish terms frequently used in hawker centres, as well.”
In my opinion, what makes Singapore special is that even though Singapore is an Asian country, most people here predominantly speak English. In school, we were educated in English, so most people here could speak good English. If you are visiting Singapore, this is great because you will be able to experience Asian culture without the language barrier.
One of my favourite things about Singapore is that we really are a melting pot of cultures. For example, in Singapore you will be able to find great Thai food, great Japanese food, delicious burgers, pizzas and the list goes on. Did you know that Singapore is also the home to the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred meal? A hawker selling chicken rice received this honour in 2016. Chicken rice is a dish with poached chicken and rice cooked in chicken stock. If you’re visiting and are hungry for some local food, I highly recommend chicken rice.
If you are into nightlife, you should visit Clarke Quay. It is a collection of bars, restaurants and clubs by the scenic Singapore River. By the way, usually Wednesday night is ladies’ night, so ladies may be able to get into some of these exciting clubs for free.
Very interesting. Thank you, Elie and Loh Waihong, for your contributions.
Now, let’s check if you understood the 4 things that are important for Singaporeans.
Singlish is a mix of languages spoken by people in Singapore, which makes their use of English unique.
One example is the use of the word chope to mean make a reservation – Have you choped a table for tomorrow’s dinner yet?
The second key word was hawker centre. The word hawker is an old-fashioned word meaning somebody who sells things individually in the streets, often by shouting out what they have “good fish for sale!” The old hawkers must have decided to work together in centres and sell their food. The hawker centres became informal places people could go to try a variety of different foods.
A special type of food is the chicken rice you can eat in a hawker centre, which is the cheapest Michelin-starred food in the world.
Wednesday nights on Clarke’s Quay are special because ladies can get into the best clubs for free.
Well, I am certainly happy that I learned many new things about Singapore today, but what about you?
The word Singapore means the city of which animal? The lion
Who was Sir Stamford Raffles? The first British governor-general
And what was the GDP of Singapore in 2019? $65,000 dollars per head
Do you remember my question from the beginning of the podcast?
Well, chewing gum, music in the street, forget to flush a public toilet, all of the other things are illegal, but you can wear shorts on public transportation, which is a good thing because Singapore is a hot part of the world.
Thank you for listening to the VivaLing English podcast.
Metal gong attributions – soundbible.com Chinese gong – Daniel Simon. flush the toilet – soundbible.com