For decades, the British Council Singapore has provided opportunities for people to hone their grasp of the English language and learn more about the United Kingdom.
But now the organisation’s working its way to help expatriates make sense of ‘Singlish’, and to pick up a thing or two about Singapore – the way the locals know it.
Business Insider scored a spot at one of these sessions simply called Coffee Morning (which could mean anything, really) where some 40 expatriates from 19 different countries showed up.
The two-hour long informal session held at the British Council Singapore’s premises at Napier Road is meant to to help expatriates integrate better into Singapore’s society in a fun and interactive way.
Through games and quizzes, a range of topics were covered, such as a brief history lesson on nyonya (or Straits Chinese) culture and a geography lesson on the HDB estates that make up the East and West of Singapore.
Speaking from her own personal experience, British Council Singapore’s head of adult courses Ms Claire Firat told Business Insider that it’s hard to make friends in a new country when you’re in your 30s and 40s.
So these coffee sessions aim to “provide a really comfortable and safe place to ask any question that you want with no judgement”.
British Council Singapore held its first session on March 13 this year, and has plans to host them every two months, starting 2018.
But if you can’t wait, there’ll also be a session next month, on Nov 20.
The session included small group activities, like figuring out the origins of the names of MRT stations and differentiating ‘Singapore English’ from ‘British English’.
Some of the questions even left us stumped.
And we ended up getting schooled.
Ms Firat also hopes that people will start to see the British Council Singapore as more than just an intimidating building, and instead, as a part of the Singapore community.
She says that other than knowledge, the biggest takeaway for most participants is the friendships and connections that they make through the sessions.
“Standing up and networking is hard. But sit them (the participants) down for two hours in a room, and it can do wonders,” says Ms Firat.