1B – Exploratory Research

Survey: https://forms.gle/sHjaYtEnW5i72TYk6

Responses on 15 September 2019 : 36

The topic I am working on is about dying dialects in Singapore. I have identified my target audience as young adults between the age of 16- 29. This survey that I have conducted aims to find out what younger generation think of the issue of dying dialects in Singapore. Through the survey, I hope to understand my targetted audience and their opinions on this issue.


This survey is divided into 3 sections.

First Section – The first section of this survey includes introduction questions. It is to have some basic background information and to also act as warm up questions.

Second Section – The second part of this survey aims to understand the audience at a deeper level and how often they use dialect to communicate.

Third section- This section aims to find out the audience’s perspective of the issue on dying dialects in Singapore and how willing they are to preserve our heritage.


In the questionnaire, the age range was divided into 4 groups : below 16, 16-29, 29-35 and 35+. Although I am aiming to target at people between 16-29, I thought is good to open up the survey to all ages as I would get different views and would help to broaden my understanding.

16-29years old = 31,  29-35years old = 4, Below 16 = 1

Out of 36 responses, about 80% of the younger generation seldom/ do not speak in dialect (8 people never speak in dialect and 21 seldom speak).  One of the main/ most common reason why they do not speak in dialect is because they do not know how to/ they are not good at it.

More than half of the respondents communicate with their grandparents in dialect. This could be because many elderly in Singapore speak primarily in dialect. One point that caught my attention is 30% speak dialect to their friends because I rarely/ never hear any of my friends speaking in dialect. 

Almost all respondents (70%) understand their dialect (3 and above) and 45% (3 and above) are able to speak well in their dialect.

45% are able to speak well in dialect but only less than 20% of respondents (as seen in the chart above) often speak in dialects.

Majority of the respondents feels that the purpose of learning dialect is to communicate with their grandparents and to preserve our heritage.

About 80% of respondents are aware/ partly aware of these issues on dying dialects in Singapore.  All respondents agree that they might be more willing to use dialect if they have sufficient knowledge about it.

Majority of respondents feel that dialect is important for the younger generation because of communication with grandparents and to preserve our heritage. One respondents mention about dialect being our mother tongue. I found this very interesting, even though all my respondents are able to identify the dialect group they belong to, but I guess if I were to guess what their mother tongue language is, all respondents will reply Mandarin. This common misconception about what that are commonly referred to as dialects today are also a subgroup of Mandarin.

In conclusion, I feel that majority the respondents feel that dialect is important  so that we could communicate better with the elderly in Singapore as well as to preserve our heritage. However, many do not have sufficient knowledge about their dialects and it might be one of the reason why it stops them from speaking in dialects.

I personally feel that dialect plays an important part in our heritage. We should preserve our it not just for it to be left as part of history.



Dialogue in the Dark

It was my second time at Dialogue in the Dark. Even though I knew what is going to happen, I still felt insecure. Because we are already so used to our sense of sight, the sudden moment of darkness scares me. My eyes kept trying to see things, but there is absolute darkness inside. Vision is of no use, we had to maximise all other senses, the sense of touch, hear and smell. I also rely strongly on the person in front of me. I have to trust her and our guide. Uncle Gary, the master of this environment, he guides us along and ensure that we are fine, hence it provide us with a sense of security.

I felt that Dialogue in the Dark pushes me out of my comfort zone orienting me to a world/ place without pictures and colours. After this experience, I learnt that not everyone is as fortunate as us, we should treasure the things that we have now and not take things for granted. I am also truly impressed by how positive Uncle Gary is,  like how he feel visually challenged people can accomplish wonders just by using other senses.

Task 1A: Exploratory Research

1. Current Issues Confronting Our World Today:

Plastic Waste

Sources: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-41866046/the-giant-mass-of-plastic-waste-taking-over-the-caribbean

The over consumption of resources and creation of plastics are creating a global crisis of waste disposal. The more developed countries are known for producing an excessive amount of waste or garbage and dumping their waste in the oceans and, less developed countries. Plastic, fast food, packaging and cheap electronic wastes threaten the well being of humans. Waste disposal is one of urgent current environmental problem.

Dying Dialects

Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/23/world/asia/china-beijing-dialect.html

The declining use of dialects among the younger generation has significantly reduced over the years. This issue is not just happening in Singapore, but also countries like Malaysia, China. etc. Articles have shown that Chinese parents from different dialect backgrounds do not want to burden their with learning dialects as it has no economic values. Parents are more concerned with the two main languages English and Mandarin. Even for my family, my parents tends to speak to us in Chinese or English. And they communicate with each other in Hokkien. Dialects are more commonly used among the older generation and this slow death with be an irreversible trend. We would hardly hear any youngsters speaking in dialects. 


Sources: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singaporeans-respect-all-races-but-racism-still-an-issue-survey

Despite Singapore trying to support multiracialism and cultivate racial harmony, with many saying they respect people from all races. However many said they have experienced racism or indicate that they hold racist attitudes. One of the most recent campaign featured Mediacorp actor Dennis Chew dressed in brownface while impersonating an Indian man and also cross-dressed to look like a Malay woman. This advertisement have sparked a controversy in Singapore as it is not the first time it has happened which have angered a lot of minorities. 


Sources: https://www.tnp.sg/news/others/maia-lee-people-judge-me-my-tattoos

To the public eye, tattoos are a taboo. The idea of leaving a permanent visual on one’s skin doesn’t favour with most people. Many people would imagined tattooed individuals to be unapproachable and fierce, going anywhere near them was a violation. Personally I feel times have changed now, younger generation now see tattoos as a form of art. However, the older generations still associated tattoos are ” bad” person. Some companies/ occupations like hiring manager etc.. do not accept employees to have tattoos.

2. Why is this issue important to you? Who does it affect and how?
Chosen Topic : Dying Dialects

Singapore has become more globalised over the years. Most young Singaporean are not able to speak their own dialect; Hokkien, Cantonese, Teochew and more. There are much more fluent in English and Chinese. Similarly for myself,  I am unable to speak fluent Cantonese to my grandparents, my grandparents speak primarily in dialect. I am also ashamed to say, my grandparents tried speaking to us in Mandarin instead as they are trying to build better relationships with their us, grandchildren. 

  • Keep Culture and Languages Alive

I feel that although most Singaporean speak English as our first language, it is also important to maintain a link in our roots, or a part of our culture would be eased in the next generation.

  • To Build Bond with Elderly

Next is many elderly in Singapore speaks in their dialects. Being able to connect in the same language makes interaction a more human experience. You break down the walls of the individuals who require help, allowing them to open up to you. Communicating and connecting with the older generation in dialect will help in rekindling the relationship between all generations.

  • Dialect helps to Save Lives

Dialect is also very important in our healthcare industry. Doctors, nurses, social workers and even volunteer have to know dialects as they need to interact frequently with dialect- speaking patients. Imagine a situation where you meet a senior, the conversation could not go further than a few phases.

3. Who do you need to communicate to, and why?

Target Audience: Younger Generations (After the 1990s)

Target to youths in Singapore between 16-28. Younger generations who understand the importance of communicating with elderly, giving them a chance to speak for themselves, they deserve to be heard. Or for grandchildren to learn simple phases to form greater bond with their grandparents. Or anyone who are interested in learning a new language to keep our culture and language alive and to pass down these culture to younger generation.

4. How has visual communication contributed to address the cause?

Example 1:

Designer/ Organization: Simple Learn Hokkien by Simon Bacher , Medium: Mobile application, Year: 2017

Mobile application was created to teach those people who are interested in learning Hokkien. The icons were simple and direct, which makes it easy for users to understand. It teaches more advanced Hokkien like forming sentences. However I felt that this application lack of images and colour.

Example 2:

Example 3:

Designer/ Organization: Koh Kuan Eng , Medium: Flashcards and Books


The 46- year-old ex-creative director, Koh Kuan Eng created a series of flashcard, books and many other items for his seven year old nephew who could not communicate with his grandparents in their native Hokkien dialect. Each flashcards come with the illustration of an object, objects we faced everyday and its dialect pronunciation.

The used of bright colours and playful fonts make it very suitable for young children. Children tend to have shorter attention span, hence the simple and straightforward words and illustration helps to convey the message quickly.

“Dialects is like an old friend. A friend who grew up with us. And we have lost touch with this friend for quite a number of years now. It’s time to get in touch again with this friend; a friend who not only reminds us of who we are but also where we come from.” – Kuan Eng