Indonesian born children speaking exclusively English

Helpful Herbert

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I think it’s a mistake not to take advantage of your native languages.

The question is, what is a native language? If a child is born and brought up in Indonesia and most of their family is Indonesian, however one parent is a native English speaker and (for the reasons in other posts above) the child mainly speaks English (with a kind of Asian accent), then what is that child's native language? Do they even have one?
 

Balifrog

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The question is, what is a native language? If a child is born and brought up in Indonesia and most of their family is Indonesian, however one parent is a native English speaker and (for the reasons in other posts above) the child mainly speaks English (with a kind of Asian accent), then what is that child's native language? Do they even have one?
My dad was Belgian (Flemish) and mom.was French. Although born in.France, when I was 3 years old Dad decide to move back to Belgium.
I did all my schooling (well, the little I did as I left school at 15) in the Flemish part of Belgium, hence my main or "education" language was Flemish (=Dutch).
At home the usual language was French, mom having never gone through the trouble of learning Flemish. My brothers and sisters we spoke both languages.
Schoool primary language was Flemish, second French, third English (all mandatory, although you could opt for German instead of English).
At 18 I left Belgium, joined the Navy in France and later stayed and worked in France (when not expatriated...)
Even my first language was Flemish, I consider my mother tongue to be French.
I am not bad at English, and still can speak a bit of Flemish when I meet a Dutch person.
But I am a bloody and proud frog in my heart, and feel zero link to Belgium.

I guess for bi language kids it all depends what their future life will be and where they decide to live ?
 

jukung11

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One of the kids in my son's school has two Indonesian parents and can only speak English.

What location is this in Indonesia? It seems more difficult to have that ability outside of areas that have the resources to do that. I rarely see this ability to isolate from any Indonesian languages outside of Jakarta and Bali. I rarely have come across it even in Surabaya. This has been on my mind quite a bit and I have tried to be more introspective about it. I think the expat community seeing exclusive English speakers, is more telling of that of the expat experience than the most common Indonesian experience. Expats tend to be centered in a few major locations in Indonesia and are usually in the upper class of society because of foreign wealth, education, or skills. When we do travel outside of those areas, the majority of contact we have are hospitality/travel workers. When I make an effort to get away from that, my experience of traveling outside of those areas it seems like even basic English can be exceptional.
 

ChrisTex

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Some of my students have an excellent command of English where if you were talking to them on the phone, there is a chance you wouldn't think they were Indonesian. I had heard and I have no idea how true this is, that some of those same students struggle in their Bahasa class.
 

Jaime C

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My daughter went to preschool in Indonesia and has gone to public school in the US, the last few years.

I speak english to her, and her mom will speak BI or English to her. She also communicates frequently with her Oma and other Indonesian relatives. We buy her BI books to read, too. Spending months each year in Indonesia is important.
 

Helpful Herbert

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Some of my students have an excellent command of English where if you were talking to them on the phone, there is a chance you wouldn't think they were Indonesian. I had heard and I have no idea how true this is, that some of those same students struggle in their Bahasa class.

My observations on language teaching at international schools for Indonesians (including from listening to the online classes during lockdown) is that their Indonesian is really neglected. The resources and time are devoted to English. At primary, Indonesian language classes include Indonesians, mixed kids and foreigners, and English is used half the time to explain things. So it is unsurprising that Indonesians will end up with worse Indonesian than their compatriots that study in Indonesian schools, especially written.

For English, the smartest ones will get to a high level (not native, but very good), but the less academic ones will probably struggle because international schools try to teach them English as a native language (eg the Cambridge Curriculum), when it isn't their native language. I think in many cases teaching it as a second language would be more beneficial. I was just looking at the Cambridge primary checkpoint exam for 11 year olds, and a lot of adults in the UK would have trouble passing it, it's very difficult. I mean I'm sure discussion connectives, onomatopoeia and non-chronological reports are very interesting, but most Indonesian 11 year olds would struggle with that when they can't even speak or write fluently yet.
 

ChrisTex

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I am at a National Plus school so roughly half the classes are in English and half are in Indonesian. To my knowledge, there are only 3 non-Indonesians at my school, myself included. The other English teacher for high school is Indonesian and the one in Jr. High is from the Phillapines.

Off the top of my head, for the Cambridge exams, students take English(required), math, the sciences(combined, biology, chemistry, physics), accounting, economics, and then if there is another subject they wish to take, they can ask and if there is a teacher who can do the additional lessons, they can take them.

For my class in speaking and listening, I tend to do a lot of presentations. I tell them, I know you hate doing them, but even if you never travel abroad or speak English again, you will need to do some type of presentation after you finish high school. I don't expect them to be perfect or speak like a native speaker, I just want to see them do their best and gain confidence. Right now the most improved students in high school are 3 guys who don't speak the best English, but they are night and day better than what they were when I first had them in class. A few students commented on one of them and said they notice he has more confidence now than he did back in July/August. To me, that is a win.

When I worked at EF, there were some unrealistic parents who thought if their children weren't making 100% on everything, they weren't improving.
 

Methblinkz

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I can only say it is a pity and sad if people decide to forget about their own language (it is a part of your identity) on top of that they are limiting their childrens opportunitys and also abilitys.

Children can easily learn 2 or 3 languages without much problems. Our daughter learned just like that without us having to force anything on her. I speak german with her, my wife speaks Bahasa Indonesia. She speaks both languages with no problem. Then she went to a kindergarten in Indonesia for 4 months, after that covid hit. In that time she managed to learn a good amount of English during that time and also due to movies and YouTube and so on. I am pretty surprised how well her English already is after such a short time. I don't mean to brag, I just wanna say no need to limit your children they will use all opportunities you give them.
We also decided against an international school, she will go to a Catholic school here in Indonesia it is one of the best around here when it comes to education and the standard is very good . They also have English lessons. After that it is possible to go to universitys in Singapore or Australia and other countries (if she wanna go that way). So yeah iam not worried about her well being in terms of education and so on. I just like the idea that she goes to a pretty "normal" school, as long as the standards are good, being able to meet all kind of children.
 

Nimbus

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I can only say it is a pity and sad if people decide to forget about their own language (it is a part of your identity) on top of that they are limiting their childrens opportunitys and also abilitys.

Children can easily learn 2 or 3 languages without much problems. Our daughter learned just like that without us having to force anything on her. I speak german with her, my wife speaks Bahasa Indonesia. She speaks both languages with no problem. Then she went to a kindergarten in Indonesia for 4 months, after that covid hit. In that time she managed to learn a good amount of English during that time and also due to movies and YouTube and so on. I am pretty surprised how well her English already is after such a short time. I don't mean to brag, I just wanna say no need to limit your children they will use all opportunities you give them.
We also decided against an international school, she will go to a Catholic school here in Indonesia it is one of the best around here when it comes to education and the standard is very good . They also have English lessons. After that it is possible to go to universitys in Singapore or Australia and other countries (if she wanna go that way). So yeah iam not worried about her well being in terms of education and so on. I just like the idea that she goes to a pretty "normal" school, as long as the standards are good, being able to meet all kind of children.
It’s ok to brag about your children. After all the effort and expense you spent raising them, you have earned the right to gloat.
 

Helpful Herbert

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Learning a language is one thing, and most kids can pick up 2 to 3 languages no problem.
But being able to speak it like a native speaker is something completely different.
 

Balifrog

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Learning a language is one thing, and most kids can pick up 2 to 3 languages no problem.
But being able to speak it like a native speaker is something completely different.
Not if it is your 2nd or 3rd "native language"
And yep, for kids 2 or.3 languages is very easy.
 

Helpful Herbert

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Not if it is your 2nd or 3rd "native language"
And yep, for kids 2 or.3 languages is very easy.
So which is your child's native language (in other words the language where other native speakers of that language would recognise them as being a native speaker and not a foreigner)?
 

Methblinkz

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I found this in the wikipedia, I just throw it in the ring. Maybe it helps:


Defining "native language"Edit

  • Based on origin: the language(s) one learned first (the language(s) in which one has established the first long-lasting verbal contacts).
  • Based on internal identification: the language(s) one identifies with/as a speaker of;
  • Based on external identification: the language(s) one is identified with/as a speaker of, by others.
  • Based on competence: the language(s) one knows best.
  • Based on function: the language(s) one uses most.
In some countries, such as Kenya, India, and various East Asian and Central Asian countries, "mother language" or "native language" is used to indicate the language of one's ethnic group in both common and journalistic parlance ("I have no apologies for not learning my mother tongue"), rather than one's first language. Also, in Singapore, "mother tongue" refers to the language of one's ethnic group regardless of actual proficiency, and the "first language" refers to English, which was established on the island under the British Empire, and is the lingua franca for most post-independence Singaporeans because of its use as the language of instruction in government schools and as a working language.

In the context of population censuses conducted on the Canadian population, Statistics Canada defines mother tongue as "the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census."[7] It is quite possible that the first language learned is no longer a speaker's dominant language. That includes young immigrant children whose families have moved to a new linguistic environment as well as people who learned their mother tongue as a young child at home (rather than the language of the majority of the community), who may have lost, in part or in totality, the language they first acquired (see language attrition). According to Ivan Illich, the term "mother tongue" was first used by Catholic monks to designate a particular language they used, instead of Latin, when they were "speaking from the pulpit". That is, the "holy mother the Church" introduced this term and colonies inherited it from Christianity as a part of colonialism.[8][9] J. R. R. Tolkien, in his 1955 lecture "English and Welsh", distinguishes the "native tongue" from the "cradle tongue". The latter is the language one learns during early childhood, and one's true "native tongue" may be different, possibly determined by an inherited linguistic taste[citation needed] and may later in life be discovered by a strong emotional affinity to a specific dialect (Tolkien personally confessed to such an affinity to the Middle English of the West Midlands in particular).

Children brought up speaking more than one language can have more than one native language, and be bilingual or multilingual. By contrast, a second language is any language that one speaks other than one's first language
 

Balifrog

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Children brought up speaking more than one language can have more than one native language, and be bilingual or multilingual. By contrast, a second language is any language that one speaks other than one's first language
Spot on.
My kids are "native" in Thai and French, without accent at all
English being their 3rd language.
At home they switch without hesitation from one to the other.

When I was a kid I did the same between French and Flemish (Dutch).
 

Nimbus

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A lot of Indonesian children in the provinces have 2 native languages: the regional language and bahasa Indonesia.
 

nd_eric_77

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A lot of Indonesian children in the provinces have 2 native languages: the regional language and bahasa Indonesia.
This is true. The kids in Central and East Java even have to learn two separate scripts, as Javanese has its own Sanskrit-inspired script.
 

Helpful Herbert

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Spot on.
My kids are "native" in Thai and French, without accent at all
English being their 3rd language.
At home they switch without hesitation from one to the other.

When I was a kid I did the same between French and Flemish (Dutch).

I have met less than 10 people in my whole life that can speak 2 major national languages as a native without any foreign accent. So congratulations Mr Balifrog on having such linguistically talented kids.

For my own case, I have decided to downgrade my expectations, and if my kids end up speaking English and Indonesian very fluently (even though I realise they will always sound like foreigners in both languages) then I will be happy with that. Our family/schooling set-up just doesn't enable a better solution. As Voltaire said "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good".
Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
 

stt_cibubur

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I have taught my son to speak bilingual since he was young, but after he started school and the language at school was English, he started to lack Indonesian vocabulary. During Primary time, he took the Mandarin as his 2nd language, then he gave up on that when he was at grade 7 and chose BHS Indonesian instead.
My native language is Javanese, but I couldn't teach him that cos it will be useless.
Now he talks to his friends in Gado-Gado style, mix and match between Indo and English and while he is in Netherlands, he's learning Dutch too. So, I cant say what his native language is
I know that speaking in mixed languages is sound weird but I am doing the same thing lol.
Its okay lah. Tidak apa apa. Chill out man!!
 

Balifrog

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I have met less than 10 people in my whole life that can speak 2 major national languages as a native without any foreign accent. So congratulations Mr Balifrog on having such linguistically talented kids.

For my own case, I have decided to downgrade my expectations, and if my kids end up speaking English and Indonesian very fluently (even though I realise they will always sound like foreigners in both languages) then I will be happy with that. Our family/schooling set-up just doesn't enable a better solution. As Voltaire said "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good".
Dans ses écrits, un sage Italien
Dit que le mieux est l'ennemi du bien.
Well, in the case of my kids, they are not genies.They started school in France, later when we moved back to Thailand, they went to a (proper) Thai school. Struggled a bit the first year, but it came very fast.
At home the usual language was always French, even if their mom insisted on speaking Thai with them, they answer in French.
A aditionnal difficulty with Thai was learning the alphabet and the tones.
 

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