Dec 2008

Staff in the Service Industry Who Can Only Speak Chinese

Posted by: Wendy
filed under: tug-o-war
Tags: , ,


I have always been in love with both the Chinese and the English language. Although I can’t read and write Chinese characters yet, I do appreciate the beauty of it and am in the process of learning. I am a big fan of Chinese songs and am especially amazed at how apt, concise order cheap cytotec and poetic some expressions can be in Chinese. It is something which can be hard to be achieved in English and that’s why most poems/songs lost half of their beauty when they are translated.

However, I have always seen English as the universal language. I see it as language that is able to unite different races together because it is one that can be spoken by many, except for some minority who are not making any effort to learn even basic phrases just because they think that in Singapore, everyone knows and should be speaking in Mandarin instead.

The situation has gotten so bad that apparently in the process of cutting cost, more and more employers are bringing in employees from other countries, without caring whether they are able to converse in basic English. The ironic thing is that most of these employees happen to be in the front line, namely in the customer service line in restaurants, shopping centres, etc. This has caused much amusement and also frustration among the customers as can be read . Customers discount propecia order kamagra who are of other races (Indians, Malays, Eurasians, etc) have been approached by salespeople/waiters/waitresses whose first sentence out of their mouth is in Mandarin.

To quote from one of these extremely frustrated customers: “Which part of me does it slightly suggest I have any Oriental inclinations??” (This is from a dark-skinned, tall Punjabi Sikh man by the way)

Have they forgotten that this is a multiracial country? There are other races here whose mother tongue is not Chinese and it is unfair to expect them to order their food and drinks in Chinese or walk around the store looking for someone to translate their questions so that the Chinese-speaking salesperson is able to understand. I was aghast to read about passengers being dropped off at random locations by cab drivers just because the driver found out that the passenger could not converse in Chinese. I am not expecting these people to be able to speak English as well as someone who has an English major, but at least they should be able to understand and respond using basic English and be understood.

I know there are already some companies who realize the importance of their staff speaking English and have spent a lot of money sending their foreign employees for English classes. This effort should be applauded, but some of the workers’ attitude left much to be desired. They do not see the importance of learning English because after cialis generic online all, most of the people here can speak Cheap Brand Levitra to them in Chinese, couldn’t they?

I am starting to question: Is this Singapore, or is it more like Little China?

If Singapore wants to be a tourist hub and welcome visitors from all over the world, something must be done about this attitude in the service industry. You can’t expect a tourist from Europe to drop here and speak to you in Chinese buy augmentin just because that happens to be the only language you know.

English is a global language, we can’t dispute that. Mandarin has yet to reach this status and it is unfair to expect every customer to know it by default. As mentioned in this article, we should respect the other races and realize that all we have in common is the English language.

So learn it today if you have not done so :)



6 comments to date:


  1. Well regarding this issue…

    Yes it is very true more China people are coming into Singapore, especially with all the IRs coming up and those sort of stuff. I believe one of the reasons why China people are brought in because of not having enough local people to cover the jobs. Besides all the China people, there are people from other countries such as Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia to fill that job gap as well. Even those people from other countries might not understand basic english too.

    It is becoming a big issue especially in the hospitality industry, since ENGLISH is supposed to be the main language in Singapore


  2. 你好,我来自中国(I come from china)非常喜欢你们的博客,会经常来访问的,希望Rin和Wendy能够幸福。


  3. 你们好,我也来自中国,非常喜欢这里 and I enjoy reading your words :P

    Hinc Liu

  4. My Fiancee is from china, she know basic english, sometimes I try to converse with her in English. I guess it will take some time for her to learn english. Haha at the same time my mandarin ain’t that good, I can converse in mandarin with her, haha but when come to reading or writing chinese characters I have a problem still learning mandarin from her aswell :D


  5. Haro: It is good that she is willing to learn English. I think people here would need to be bilingual or at least know some basic English…I’m learning Mandarin as well, right now I can’t read and write in Mandarin and my spoken Mandarin is far from perfect.


  6. hi, I can’t find your contact information but your web design layout looked off on internet explorer and firefox. Anyways, i just suscribd to your rss.



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