Answers from Our Experts (1)
Nowadays English is the primary language spoken in Singapore though you'll hear a fair amount of Mandarin spoken by locals - especially at local establishments such as hawker centres and Chinese restaurants and stores.
With Singapore's independence in 1965, the government decided to promote English as the primary language and mode of teaching in schools. Students, however, are encouraged to be bilingual with most courses taught in English and a separate language class taught in their native ethnic tongue.
Since Singapore is now largely a melting pot of cultures, the term 'Singlish' has been used to describe the local tongue; it has been likened to British-English with a local Sing-twist (e.g. lift is elevator, carpark is parking lot, "can" and "cannot" are preferred over "yes" and "no", "la" is tacked on to the end of phrases).
Malay and Indian (primarily the southern Tamil dialect of India) are also common languages heard and two of the main ethnic groups on the island in addition to Singaporean-Chinese and Eurasian.