Switching Languages

In my home, we don't speak other than Indonesian language. Well, my mom doesn't really speak Javanese or Sundanese, but my dad can speak both of them. As a result, I can't speak any other than Bahasa Indonesia. Now I regret it.

At school, I learnt English (of course, I also took some classes outside school), Arabic during elementary and junior high, and French when I was in high school. But now, poof.... I don't remember anything at all, except English (of course, that's why I'm still able to write this post in English), some super basic and simple sentence in Arabic and French (ca va?).

Then I moved to Bandung for university, the city where many locals speak in Sundanese. But guess what, even after 3 years, I don't feel any improvement for my Sundanese. Most of my friend, even who are from Bandung, only speak in Sundanese for several occasion, not at school. In university, so many students came from all over the country, and in result, we can hear lots of local language, and lots of Bahasa Indonesia spoken with heavy dialects and accents. It was sometime fun because we could guess where they came from only from the way they speak.

English for me is my second language, even though I don't use it in daily life, back in my home country. Well, English is only for doing many things from the internet. Not speaking, not writing. Yeah, sometimes listening from the songs and movies. But still, my second language won't be as perfect as my native language. The hardest part is thinking about the time sequence. You know, there are many types of tenses in English, but in Bahasa Indonesia there is no past tense, past perfect tense, etc. We keep everything simple. For example, we say it like this: "I eat tempe yesterday."

And then, I learnt Japanese, from the scratch. But after the basic level, only about three and half months, I stopped. And then I cam to Japan, and continue studying at school. But I guess living in where the language was spoken is really a big benefit. Well, I know I had many expectation when I first came here, but in reality, some people able to survive and live in Japan peacefully even though they don't really understand or even speak Japanese. But yeah, my exchange program is offered in English, which means I don't really meet many Japanese students. There's a little chance to practice Japanese if we don't try to find some program, such as practicing Japanese with some volunteers in some programs at school and dorm (in this case, all the volunteers are elderly).

Here, I mainly speak in English, when I speak with my friends who came from all around the world. Some accents are hard to understand, but mostly is okay. I speak Japanese to the lab members, daily life outside (shopping, asking for direction, complaining, etc), and also in the "Let's talk Japanese" program. I speak Bahasa Indonesia only to Indonesian friends. Then come another problem. Switching language.

Some of my friends are really good at switching language. For example, I have a friend from Australia, but she was actually from Hongkong. She moved to Australia when she was in elementary, so now she can speak English (with Australian accent), Cantonise, and Japanese. She can switches language easily, like in an occasion with some Japanese, Westerners, and Chinese, she could easily communicate in three languages. So cool.

But me, I feel stuck. Usually after weekends, I speak a lot with Indonesian friends, and then on Monday, my tongue finds it hard to speak English. Then, when I should speak in Japanese, I can't speak properly. It seems like I need some exercises to move my mouth and tongue every morning. There was also a time when I was with my Thai friends, and then I met some Indonesian friends and chatted a bit. But when they left, I talked to my Thai friends automatically in Bahasa Indonesia. Of course they didn't understand, and I just realized it after after I finished talking. Then I explained to them that I forgot and spoke in Bahasa. They just laughed and one of them told me a similar experience. Okay, it's not only me then. Haha. This kind of experience was happened more than once.

Now, I think I consider Japanese as my third language, since it's better than my Arabic and French which seems already hopeless. I want to learn and practice more!


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