Claim SkillsFuture Credits! Improve yourself by picking up a new language

Singaporean citizens aged 25 years and above are awarded a credit of $500 per year, starting from January 2016. This credit is to be used to enable all Singaporeans to develop to their fullest potential.

What better way to improve yourself than by picking up a new language or refreshing rusty skills?

Agape School of Education now offers Korean and German classes that are claimable via SkillsFuture Credit. It is never too late to pick up a new language and at our school you will find a variety of resources to help you master the language in no time.

Learn more by viewing the video below, print this handy PDF Instructions or learn more at about Agape SkillsFuture Programmes Page.

Se habla Español: Pronouns and Verbs

Grammar is the cornerstone of perfecting your skill in a language. Nothing is worse than using an informal term when talking to that very important client and potentially offending them during a business meeting! Last week we explored the nouns and adjectives in the Spanish language. As important as these grammatical units are, it is only half the battle. Pronouns and verbs are equally important in any language.

Pronouns:
Pronouns substitute for nouns. For example, you can say La niña está aquí (the girl is here) or Ella está aquí (she is here). In this case, Ella is substituting for La niña. The subject pronouns in Spanish are yo (I), t/usted (singular you), Él (he), Ella (she), nosotros (we), Ustedes (plural you), Ellos (they masculine) or Ellas (they feminine).

The singular and plural forms of ‘you’ are used differently depending on the dialect of Spanish. It is important to remember that subject pronouns are frequently omitted in Spanish since the ending of the verb is already indicative. Thus, native female speakers would say Estoy aqui (I’m here) rather than Yo estoy aqui.

Verbs:
Verbs indicate actions. Usually, when you enumerate a verb, you use what is called the infinitive, for example, hablar (to speak). In Spanish, there are three different types of verbs, depending on how their infinitive ends. These different categories are called conjugations.

Thus, there are verbs ending in ar, such as hablar, in -er comer (to eat) and in ir dormir (to sleep). As mentioned before, verbs in Spanish have different endings depending on the subject of the action. These endings will vary from one conjugation to the other. For example, with the verb hablar, the singular you is (t) hablas, whereas with comer it is (t) comes. This can obviously be complicated for learners at the beginning, but once you get used to it, you will have no problem communicating effectively.

At the end of the day, even though you may speak Spanish and practice your grammar on a daily basis, a qualification could give you that extra boost when it comes to professional or educational opportunities.

The Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) are official titles certifying your competence and mastery of the Spanish language. It is an internationally recognised qualification granted by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport of Spain. It could help you get that transfer to a Spanish-speaking branch of your company, help you gain a better foothold for business in Spain or help you enter the university of your choice in a Spanish-speaking country.

Invest your time in getting the proper guidance you need to excel at your DELE examinations with Agape School of Education. Our Spanish courses are specially modelled after the standard set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

If you want to learn conversational Spanish or Spanish for personal goals, we have Spanish language courses for your every goal. For example, did you know that there are two types of Spanish used around the world? One form used primarily in Spain and another that dominates in Latin America. Fortunately, our teachers teach both! Our courses go the extra mile to ensure students are always one step ahead! So be it for an exam or for work, you can get that A+ or impress your new client. Contact us today or come down to our branch to find out how we can help you reach your goals today! Book online now.

Part 1 of our Se habla Español series can be found here.

Se habla Español: Nouns and Adjectives

When learning a new language, it is always useful to be familiar with its main grammatical units.

This constitutes the first necessary step in order to understand and create meaningful speech.

Here are the main grammatical elements in Spanish and some useful information about them:

Travelling to exotic places like Machu Picchu are easier when you can speak the language and richer when you can relate to the culture. Views of Machu Picchu tours © Matthew Barker, Peru For Less 2009

Nouns:
A noun is a word which is mostly used to refer to a person or thing. All nouns in Spanish have a gender, meaning that they are either masculine or feminine. For example, niño (boy) is masculine and niña (girl) is feminine. The best way to identify gender is undoubtedly through experience, although here are some general guidelines, which may be useful at the beginning: usually, nouns ending in ‘o’ are masculine and nouns ending in ‘a’ are feminine. As with most rules, there are always exceptions.
For example, mano (hand) and radio (radio) are feminine. On the other hand, words of Greek origin ending in ‘ma’, such as dilema (dilemma) or problema (problem) are masculine. When you are learning new vocabulary, it is recommendable that you learn nouns with their corresponding article. This will help beginner learners to remember their gender. For example, la niña, la mano or el problema and el niño.

Adjectives:
Adjectives are used to qualify a particular noun or to say something about the noun. It is important to remember that in Spanish they are usually placed after the noun. Since adjectives are always related to a noun, they have to agree with them in gender and number.

This means that if you want to say something about the noun nio, which is masculine and singular, the adjective that you use will also have to be masculine and singular. Thus, you can say niño alto (tall boy) or niño pequeo (small boy). If, on the other hand, if you were talking about a girl, you would have to say niña alta (tall girl) and niña pequea (small girl).

 

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and similarly, you can’t learn Spanish overnight. Prepare yourself for the challenges ahead. Learning a new language should be fun and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be as long as you realise your limitations.

At Agape School of Education, we teach two types of Spanish, the form taught in Spain and that in Latin America. Our courses also cover Spanish for business purposes and preparation courses for all levels of the Spanish language certification, Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language; DELE). We have tailored our course materials to follow the standard set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Come down to our school today to find out more about our Spanish courses, be it for travel, business or educational purposes! Book online now.

Part 2 of our Se habla Español series can be found here.

Learning the Challenging Chinese Language

Mandarin is a language, or part of a group of languages, spoken by 1.3 billion people worldwide. If you define Mandarin as one language, rather than a grouping, it is the single most spoken language on the planet. Outside of Singapore, it is also spoken widely in China, Taiwan and Malaysia. If you are interested in learning Mandarin as your mother tongue or as a third language, it can be intimidating and challenging. But learning Mandarin can also be rewarding, and knowing it can have benefits for your career, during your travels or in your relationships.

Even if it is not your mother tongue language in school, there are still many ways to learn Mandarin. As a university student, you can study Mandarin and earn a degree in it. Earning a university degree in Mandarin will provide you with a solid knowledge of formal Mandarin that you can use to further your studies or gain employment. You will also be proficient in reading and writing the alphabet, which is a standard alphabet throughout the Mandarin-speaking world. If you are established in your career and find it necessary to learn Mandarin for business dealings or business-associated travel, Agape School of Education offers the flexibility to modify your course to suit your specific needs. Learning to speak Mandarin this way is convenient if you need to learn the basics before an important business trip or for an upcoming test.

If you are a student of Mandarin or a tourist with a desire to travel within Asia, an ideal way to learn the intricacies of Mandarin is through participation and engagement with the culture. By doing this, you will not only learn how to speak Mandarin but also how to respect their traditions and develop a love for the language. By studying Mandarin in a small group situation like that at Agape School of Education, you are given quality interaction with the teacher and other students. This encourages communication and you may just find learning to speak Mandarin becomes much easier than you thought. You will grow to understand and recognise the value of the ancient Chinese culture: the history, the art, the architecture, the food and the people.

If you are fluent in Mandarin, not only could it help you establish yourself in a career, but it could also open doors to new careers. For example, you could take a job as a foreign language translator, where you would be responsible for translating websites, training documents and other important business documents while helping to bridge the communication gap between two very different cultures. You might also consider a career as a teacher of English as a second language in another country, allowing you the opportunity to travel to different countries. You also have the capability to relocate to a Mandarin-speaking nation and teach the English language to their students. Being fluent in Mandarin will definitely make relocation less stressful.

Learning how to speak, read and write Mandarin has many advantages. It gives you the potential to enhance your career by working or travelling abroad and gives you opportunities to embark on new careers. Take the time to learn Mandarin and open your eyes to a new and often misunderstood culture.

Let Agape School of Education help you on this exciting, new journey! Contact us today for information on available class timings.

Writing Japanese: What is Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana

The Japanese language is intricate and fascinating. The tonal qualities of the language are quite unique and the inherent politeness of the Japanese people translates well into its language, which is, in turn, elegant, stylish and drips with respect.

The Japanese script evolved from its original Chinese script beginnings to become something that is intrinsically Japanese and embodies the elegance of the culture. What is unique about this language is that there are different types or ways of writing Japanese characters. This has often been a source of confusion for new learners or those unfamiliar with Japanese culture.

The three main ways of writing Japanese characters are Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana. The Romaji version of writing is often reserved for special purposes and is not often seen in daily communication.

Kanji

The word kanji is a Japanese derivative of the Chinese word “hanzi”, which translates to Han characters. The word “Han” pertains to the Han Dynasty and is also what many Chinese people today identify with. Kanji employs between 5,000 to 10,000 Chinese characters, which makes writing in this form very difficult. In 1981, the Japanese government, as a means of simplifying written and read Japanese, introduced jōyō kanji or ‘List of Chinese Characters for General Use’. This list includes 1,945 regular characters and 166 special characters that are used only for writing peoples’ names. All official documents, as well as newspapers, textbooks and other publications, use this form of written Japanese exclusively.

Hiragana

Chinese characters are considered to be the source for Hiragana syllables. Hiragana which means ordinary syllabic script was originally referred to as “onnade” or ‘women’s hand’ because it was most commonly used by women. Although men were known to write in Kanji and Katakana, usage of Hiragana evolved through the centuries, and by the 10th century, it was being used by both men and women. The earliest versions of Hiragana had diverse characters that represented the same syllable. However, the whole system was eventually simplified in order to make it easier to use by establishing a one-to-one correspondence between the written and spoken syllables.

Katakana

The Katakana alphabets have a very storied history. It was taken from abbreviated Chinese characters that were originally used by Buddhist monks. They used Katakana in order to illustrate the correct pronunciations of Chinese text in the 9th century. Initially, many different symbols were used to represent just one syllable and the script became quite confusing. But over time, Katakana has become more streamlined. Although initially thought of as men’s writing, Katakana has been used to write onomatopoeic words, foreign names, telegrams and non-Chinese loan words. The script itself contains about 48 syllables.

Romaji

The final and rarest script used in the Japanese language is called Romaji. It is used to transcribe the Latin alphabet into Japanese characters. It is especially important for English or Latin words that do not have a direct Japanese translation. As such, it is not often used and typically reserved for very special uses.

 

At Agape School of Education, this is the sort of cultural grounding in which we base our language lessons. It is important to understand the history behind linguistic schematics to facilitate a better understanding of the language. Our unique approach to teaching languages is what has led our students to success. Inquire about our available classes today!

The Efficiency Principle

For many people, National Service (NS) is characterised as a time of tough physical work and character development. For two years, our Singapore men trade in their school uniforms for army greens to serve and protect our country. As most full-time national servicemen (NSFs) spend a significant portion of time in camp, whatever time they have in the evenings and on weekends should be spent in a prudent and efficient manner. One excellent way to utilise this time is to pick up a new language!

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Bryan Ho preparing to take the French international diploma (DELF)

Your NS period is a very good time to learn a new language because you can focus entirely on it. It is common for students to be wary of taking foreign languages in university because it has one of the heaviest workloads and it can be difficult to score in that subject, potentially messing up your GPA/CAP. Another common trend is for students to pick up the language and drop after a few semesters, which is a further waste of precious time. This is why the NS period is perfect! You exercise your body and your mind. By keeping your mind active, you also prevent yourself from losing touch with the ‘study’ mindset. This makes the transition after NS to further education or work easier.

Using this time to learn a new language is not just efficient, it has long-term benefits. Students who intend to go for a student exchange programme during university or who intend to attend an overseas university, gain an upper-hand if they speak the language. Why deny yourself a head start?

More and more NSFs are enrolling in part-time courses while serving their NS. They attend classes in the evenings when they book out of camp and also during the weekends. At Agape School of Education, the flexibility of our courses is crucial in helping you learn. Classes are tailored for the student and can be scheduled around book-out timings.

If you’re worried about your supervisors, don’t be! A survey recently showed that army supervisors were lenient and supportive of their NSF’s private studies, allowing them to leave on time to go for classes. It’s inevitable that you may need to miss a week of lessons from time to time because an NSF’s first priority is your service to your country. We understand this and our teachers can build a structured programme that will fit your needs.

It’s not necessary to put your studies and career on hold while you serve. In fact, it’s not recommended. Learning a new language or even keeping in touch with one you’ve already learnt will keep you from forgetting knowledge and skills! This will not only prepare you for the life awaiting after NS but also equip you with credentials that benefit your further education and future career. Be efficient with how you spend your time during your NS. Contact Agape School of Education to find out how we can help you develop, enhance and protect your skills.

Here are two examples of students who efficiently used their free time during their NS period to pick up a new language:

  1. Bryan Ho prepared for to take the French international diploma (DELF) at the B1 level while serving his NS. He passed with an excellent grade and later used his knowledge in French to enter a university in the United States.
  2. Derong Lin discovered his love for writing in French at Agape School of Education! While he was preparing to sit for the DELF examination at the B2 level, he wrote about his experience with the French language. His article can be found on our blog!

    Agape School of Education helped him develop skills that he later used during his tenure as a student in the School of Design and Environment at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Thanks to his knowledge of the French language, Derong was also chosen by NUS for a 6-month internship in Paris, France.

Agape School of Education Got Talent!

Our student, Lin Derong (Jean Pierre) wrote an ebook about 7 things you have to know before leaping into French for a smoother learning experience. Enjoy!

 

After studying with us for a while, some of our students like to share their personal visions of ASE. Charles, Engineer, who is working for AIR BUS in Singapore, is one of them. He just graduated for the French International diploma DELF B1. Read what he has to say about our school.

Li Hong won the French Ambassador’s Cup in 2010 at MOELC while she was a student there.