How useful is Mandarin in Singapore for consulting

Hi guys,

I've been using the search function for this question and the general feeling is that Mandarin isn't that helpful in Singapore (which is strange because most of my friends who are currently studying there say that speaking Mandarin is a huge plus). I was hoping someone who are currently doing consulting in Singapore can shed a light on this? For some reasons I feel like the language requirements/preference in consulting is much much more stringent than those in ibanking? If so will Mandarin really be a plus? (I'm from South East Asia btw but I don't speak in-demand SE languages, i.e Bahasa or Thai)

Another question about Mandarin, and this may sound a bit silly, and that is will it be okay not being able to write in Chinese???? I already passed the New HSK Level 6 (which is the highest level) but my writing grade was horrible. I can read, speak, listen and type at college level for Mandarin Chinese (i.e reading books, newspaper, watching movies without subs, converse intelligently..) but I just can't write (For Mandarin learners out there, you know the feeling when you can totally recognize the Chinese characters but just can't remember all the strokes?). Should I write in my application form that I am only at advanced conversational level then? (I'm afraid they would construe this as I am only able to speak, not read or write) when in fact I can read and type documents just fine.

Thank you in advance for all of the inputs

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Comments (5)

Sep 22, 2011 - 2:10pm

Anyone who says Mandarin isn't useful in Singapore has obviously never been there. It's one of the four official languages (English, Tamil, and Malay being the others). Speaking and reading it is absolutely a huge plus (I traveled there for school my junior year; terrific experience).

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Sep 22, 2011 - 5:05pm

It's all English, even with hookers and hawker stalls. Your clients will be English and coworkers Brits from INSEAD. This is more of a requirement for Hong Kong.

Mandarin isn't useful--I'm fluent and never used it in Singapore as a consultant. There's a whole campaign by the ministry to make Singaporeans speak correct, refined English. No can la? I love you, hor. Go figure.

Sep 22, 2011 - 6:31pm

It's not - everything you will do will be in English. Besides, Hokkien not Mandarin is the major dialect of the Chinese in Singapore, on those occasions when they are not using English or Singlish.

Sep 22, 2011 - 9:57pm

Mandarin is definitely not important to know in Singapore. It's a huge plus because it means you can (and will) be staffed on projects in Taiwan and of course China, but for actual work IN Singapore - not at all necessary. As someone above said, Chinese is one of FOUR official languages. Therefore, in business, if you only use Chinese you discriminate against native speakers of the other three languages...I hope that makes sense now as to why ONLY English is used in the workplace. Certainly for the big banks and consulting firms, you'd only hear Chinese for 2 reasons:

1) While speaking to support staff
2) While calling up clients in Taiwan/China

I am in consulting in Singapore and I'm an Indian who knows no Mandarin so I speak from experience.

As for what to put on your resume - just say Fluent. Nuff said.

Sep 22, 2011 - 11:09pm
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