Pass English before Entering Singapore Service Sector

No more trying to guess the specials of the day at a restaurant. No more asking the shop assistant to repeat the price of a dress again and again. No more explaining to the receptionist that you want two single beds – not one double.

Now, foreign workers have to clear an English proficiency test before they can get a work permit as a skilled worker in the island state of Singapore. This new requirement is part of a government move to raise standards in three industries – food and beverage, retail, and hotel – where a solid knowledge of English is crucial in order to provide good service to the customer.

When the Minister of State for Manpower, Mr. Lee Yi Shyan, announced the new rule, he made it clear that it is indeed aimed at those businesses:

“English is the working language in Singapore. This is particularly important in industries such as hotel, retail, and F&B (food and beverage, red.), where workers interact regularly with customers.”

The new rule is a result of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s decry of foreigners in service jobs, who did not know the difference between “chilli” and “no chilli”. 

The test will consist of two parts, speaking and listening, where test takers will be asked to respond to certain questions and to listen and then choose correct answers from a list of possibilities. Applicant will receive a pass/fail grade for each component of the test.

For more information about the test, click here.

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