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Listening Activity: Singlish - A Variety of English

Listen to an interview with Tony from Singapore. He runs a small shop in Edinburgh, where he sells purses, bags, and umbrellas. For twenty minutes, he closed his shop to give us a glimpse of Singlish and other cultural aspects of Singapore.
Map of Singapore
Åpne bilde i et nytt vindu



Listen and talk:

Photo: Adult Asian man who is wearing a suit jacket, sweater, and open shirt. He is looking at the camera. He appears to be in a shop that sells handbags.

Listen to the interview with Tony (11 min) and take notes while you listen. Work together in pairs and answer the questions below.

  1. What role does English play in Singapore?

  2. What is Singlish? How does he describe it?

  3. According to Tony, what is the difference between English in Hong Kong and in Singapore?

  4. How does he describe Scottish people? And what does he say about Asians?
  5. From what you understand from the interview, how would you describe Singaporean people and society?
  6. Describe some of the challenges that young people in Singapore face.


How did Singapore become an English-speaking country? Use the internet and look for information about English in Singapore:

  1. Find out how English became one of Singapore's official languages.

  2. Make a timeline showing the history of the English language in Singapore.

  3. Find out more about the present status of English in Singapore.

  4. Find more information about Singlish. What makes this language unique?

Compare your answers with a group or the rest of the class.

Write an interview:

Tony talks about some of the challenges that young people in Singapore face.

Imagine that you are working for a youth magazine and you are going to interview a Singaporean youth about their life. From a young person's perspective, what is good about life in Singapore, and what is not so good?

Write the interview using the information from Tony together with information from various sources on the internet.


Work in pairs or small groups.

Singapore waterfront.

Imagine that you are working for the Singapore Tourism Authorities and visitsingapore.com. You have been asked to make a short film for travel providers in Norway that explains what tourists can see and do in this small but very interesting city-state, and the average costs of travelling to and in the country.

Make an exciting and interesting presentation using images, film clips, and music. Focus on selling the country as a tourist destination for Norwegians.

CC BY-SASkrevet av Morten Serkland, Eli M. Huseby og Karin Søvik.
Sist faglig oppdatert 26.05.2021


Varieties of English