Indonesian born children speaking exclusively English

Wisnu

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all of us born in Indonesia, we speak multi-languages (sequence by level of fluency)
me : Indonesian, Javanese (Ngoko and Madya), English (same level as pak Jokowi)
wife : Indonesia, English, Arabic, Russian, Javanese (ngoko)
Daughter 1 : English, Indonesian, Germany
Daughter 2 : English, Indonesian, French, Russian
 

J_Gav

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That's quite the portfolio. If you don't mind me asking, what was the rationale for picking Arabic, German, French and Russian?
 

Wisnu

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That's quite the portfolio. If you don't mind me asking, what was the rationale for picking Arabic, German, French and Russian?
We left Indonesia more than 16 years ago. Live in Kazakhstan for 4 years. On first years in KZ, daughter 1 moved to UK to continue her education. She works in London now and her boyfriend was Germany.

Daughter 2 stayed with us for 3 years in Kazakhstan. Although she was in International school but with her mum she did lot of travelling and interaction with local there. Not many people in Kazakh speak English, so they were forced (actually they enjoyed it too) to lean Russian to survive.
Me - I'm too lazy and most of the people in my office speak English. So, I can survive without Russian.
Daughter 2, then moved to France to ISP Tennis academy (now Mouratoglu Tennis Academy) in France. Many students were Russian speakers so she can still continue speaking Russian. Now, She is student athlete in US and still able to practice her Russian since there are other Russian speaking student in the team.

After Kazakh, we lived in Egypt for 6 years. Wife love to bargain and she is good Muslim too - so this give her strong motivation to learn arabic.
Me - again too lazy.
 

Wisnu

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Currently we live in Nigeria; and I notice she start speaking Pidgin with our maid and gardener.
 

riosamba

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I am ex-Indonesian. I was born and raised in Jakarta now live in Oregon, USA for many years. I speak Indonesian, English, French, German and Italian, also Latin. I grew up in a bi-lingual household. My parents spoke to my sister and I in Indonesian and English. the other languages I learned at school in Switzerland. It is important for children to speak native and foreign languages. So they can converse when they are in another country. I am thankful to my parents that they taught us speaking several languages will be a good benefit for my sister and I. My mother German and father Indonesian.
 

HappyMan

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There's someone in my company who claims to speak 17 languages, and puts that on his CV. He tries to avoid people testing him though.
I reckon you could get through 15 duolingo courses in 3 or 4 years if you spent all your spare time on it and picked the easiest languages with the shortest courses. Whether or not people would agree that you "speak 17 languages" is another matter.

I occasionally dream in Indonesian now, even though my Indonesian is crap.
 

harryopal

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I have heard of people being hit on the head in an accident and waking up speaking a foreign language. Has anyone tried that? If not... in the interests of science... any volunteers for a test?

I have a few German phrases, learned sixty years ago and a smattering of Swahili. Visiting any new country my first priority is to learn to ask for tea with milk and no sugar. I once asked in Japanese if I could have tea with milk and no sugar, please. The hostess rushed out of the room smothering her laughter and later returned to say I had asked for tea with mother's milk

I learned the words in Mandarin to ask for tea with milk and no sugar. Living in Singapore I tried this in many cheap cafes in but evidently didn't get the tonal range correctly. And then. one blessed day, praise the Lord, a waiter understood. But just that once.

Every time I think I am getting a handle on conversational Indonesian I soon find myself lost. Unless people speak very slowly and patiently I am befuddled. I seem to be forgetting new words faster than I learn them. My WIN wife finds it very hard to speak slowly. At least I don't mind if people laugh at my mistakes.
 

Banana72

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Wife and I went to Japan right in the beginning of the pandemy last year (March) and at the end of the trip I was like...give me one year...by next year, when the covid ends we'll be travelling again, and I'll be able to at least speak quite a bit! Got home and started crackin' on those duolingo lessons.

Fast forward a year later. Covid is laughing in my face AND my Japanese still sucks. I know about a little over a thousand words...some usable, some not so. I can probably say "My cat will play the piano on Friday" but I think this might not be usable in daily conversations.
 

ramsaso

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I'll chip in a bit about myself and how I can be relatively comfortable in speaking and understanding BI and English to a high degree, I guess, if it can be construed that way.

I don't know if what I will say be useful to anyone, but it's just my $0.02 USD cents.

(Also, I was born in the United States to two Indonesian parents who have no intents on going back to Indonesia.)

Relatively young at my age, before 2nd grade here, I recall speaking English most of the time with my parents, though I did get exposed to my parents speaking BI with me on some occasions. There were times that I wanted to make sure that they understood what I meant because, although my father was here working for the consulate here in Houston, who is now retired, back in the early 2000s, I had a hard time relaying what I intended to say to them because he wasn’t brushed up in his English.

Then, in 2007, my mother, along with my sister and myself, went to Indonesia for about three months because of the summer break from grade school, and as well for my mother to check up on her parents (one of which, who sadly passed away about a month ago, due to natural causes at the age of 90).

At some point during the trip, I realized that I had to “take action” because my grandmother didn’t understand me, what with my broken BI and having to mix in some relatively complex English words with BI, it really didn’t help much until my mother became aware of what I was talking about and relayed it to her to where she comprehended what I said literally.

After arriving home in the States to go to 3rd grade, I started to pick up more of the Indonesian language easily, even if it was “kacau”, as my mother said back then. One could say, some people were pissed at me for being offensive to them at the time. It’s life.

I don’t know what caused me to learn BI to where it is now, to where some people like me, born in the Indonesian diaspora in Houston at the time, struggle to say BI easily without having to mix in English words to prove a point (I admit I still do this but only when I don’t understand the Indonesian word for what I meant, such as an object or item). There are some who cannot speak BI above an elementary level but can comprehend what BI speakers are saying, to a certain degree.

I guess, thinking about it now as I type onto here, what motivated me to gradually learn and adapt to BI was the fact that I wanted my parents to understand what I was saying without giving them too much of a hassle about having to mentally translate what I said in English to Indonesian whereas I could just say it in Indonesian and truthfully state what I mean. Plus, they were kinda living the American Dream with us, adapting to the ways of life here and sorta learn what other cultures are there, in the world. My parents made damn sure, that me and my sister would be comfortable in our culture and not be relegated to be that person who has no culture to associate with.

I implore anyone to not be afraid of being bi-lingual and shunning away your culture to be financially prosperous.

I apologize for sounding terse on here.
 

Nimbus

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Found this interesting podcast about the benefits of "bad English" in my feed.

https://www.npr.org/player/embed/989477444/989574776

Not really sure how to embed it.
Very interesting. I know that many people place a very high emphasis on speaking the ‘correct’ accent, meaning the American or Commonwealth one. I believe parents in Indonesia who insist on 100% English are trying to give their kids that accent. I heard many rich people in China are willing to pay good money to have American nannies, just so their kids grow up with the right English accent.

It is true that non-native speakers often understand each other just fine. I work for a multinational company where the internationals outnumber the Americans 2 to 1. I can understand ‘bad’ English because I went through the same learning process, but the Americans stumble at times.

Here’s the thing, in real life if people struggle to understand your English due to your heavy Irish or French accent, it’s kinda cool. If they struggle due to your Indian or Singlish accent, they complain. If the acting CFO in the program was Indian rather than French, they might not have let him hang around that long to fix his accent. It’s not a good feeling to be seen and treated as an ‘other’, especially because a lot of Americans display a different attitude based on your accent.

I’m a bit torn and I feel hypocritical. On one hand I advise English learners to focus on vocabulary and enunciation instead of accent, as they’re far more effective in getting you understood. On the other hand I immerse myself in the American Midwest accent, because it helps me professionally when people feel comfortable talking to me. Logic vs emotion again.
 

HappyMan

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Very interesting. I know that many people place a very high emphasis on speaking the ‘correct’ accent, meaning the American or Commonwealth one. I believe parents in Indonesia who insist on 100% English are trying to give their kids that accent. I heard many rich people in China are willing to pay good money to have American nannies, just so their kids grow up with the right English accent.

It is true that non-native speakers often understand each other just fine. I work for a multinational company where the internationals outnumber the Americans 2 to 1. I can understand ‘bad’ English because I went through the same learning process, but the Americans stumble at times.

Here’s the thing, in real life if people struggle to understand your English due to your heavy Irish or French accent, it’s kinda cool. If they struggle due to your Indian or Singlish accent, they complain. If the acting CFO in the program was Indian rather than French, they might not have let him hang around that long to fix his accent. It’s not a good feeling to be seen and treated as an ‘other’, especially because a lot of Americans display a different attitude based on your accent.

I’m a bit torn and I feel hypocritical. On one hand I advise English learners to focus on vocabulary and enunciation instead of accent, as they’re far more effective in getting you understood. On the other hand I immerse myself in the American Midwest accent, because it helps me professionally when people feel comfortable talking to me. Logic vs emotion again.
I also felt conflicted. You wouldn't know it from my writing here, but as a teenager I spent a lot of time trolling through the dictionary just looking for interesting words and phrases. I loved dissecting writing in English classes and talking about the nuances of the author's word choices...looking for that subtext.

So, I'm in some minority group of English users who receive an added value when English is used at 100% of capacity. On the other side of the scale, we have the majority of users, who already get their full value when English is used in a simple and direct form.

I know that saying "remember" has a greater communicative value to the majority of English speakers than does saying "bear in mind" (since the value of an unknown idiom is nil), but I would still rather hear the latter.

It's all well and good that people from various language backgrounds need a simple and concise common language. I just am not sure that I want it to be my language that is being simplified and abbreviated.

Then again, the thought of someone looking at my kid like he's stupid because he didn't catch their East Texas drawl or know what "sweatin' like a whore in church" means pisses me off.

I'd like to have it both ways, please.
 

harryopal

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It took 70 years to complete the original ten volumes of the original Oxford dictionary with the objective to record every word ever used in the English language. in 1933 there were 12 volumes and a supplementary volume. When the second edition was printed in 1989 there were 21,728 pages in 20 volumes. 171,146 words currently in use in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, not to mention 47,156 obsolete words.
 

Nimbus

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I also felt conflicted. You wouldn't know it from my writing here, but as a teenager I spent a lot of time trolling through the dictionary just looking for interesting words and phrases. I loved dissecting writing in English classes and talking about the nuances of the author's word choices...looking for that subtext.

So, I'm in some minority group of English users who receive an added value when English is used at 100% of capacity. On the other side of the scale, we have the majority of users, who already get their full value when English is used in a simple and direct form.

I know that saying "remember" has a greater communicative value to the majority of English speakers than does saying "bear in mind" (since the value of an unknown idiom is nil), but I would still rather hear the latter.

It's all well and good that people from various language backgrounds need a simple and concise common language. I just am not sure that I want it to be my language that is being simplified and abbreviated.

Then again, the thought of someone looking at my kid like he's stupid because he didn't catch their East Texas drawl or know what "sweatin' like a whore in church" means pisses me off.

I'd like to have it both ways, please.
Indonesians have it both ways. The formal bahasa Indonesia is very close to bahasa Melayu, so Indonesians and Malaysians can talk to each other. However, informal Indonesian is heavily influenced by ethnic languages, to the point where it’s practically foreign to Malaysians.

Code switching comes naturally to me. Every Indonesian switches to formal language when addressing elders or people in authority, using the informal dialect only with family and friends. When I talk to Americans I freely use idiomatic English, but when dealing with colleagues from Costa Rica, Poland, Germany, and Philippines I try to be simple and concise.
 

Vulgarian

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It took 70 years to complete the original ten volumes of the original Oxford dictionary with the objective to record every word ever used in the English language. in 1933 there were 12 volumes and a supplementary volume. When the second edition was printed in 1989 there were 21,728 pages in 20 volumes. 171,146 words currently in use in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, not to mention 47,156 obsolete words.

Yes, but he missed a few

 

HappyMan

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Code switching comes naturally to me. Every Indonesian switches to formal language when addressing elders or people in authority, using the informal dialect only with family and friends. When I talk to Americans I freely use idiomatic English, but when dealing with colleagues from Costa Rica, Poland, Germany, and Philippines I try to be simple and concise.
Yes, that was the teacher's perspective from the podcast, wasn't it? Much more reasonable to train "native speakers" to simplify word choice and understand slight variations in grammar and pronunciation than to have everyone flawlessly imitate "native speakers".
It makes sense to include a bit of ear training in English classes for American elementary and middle-schoolers, but then my fellow southerners would probably find that to be a decidedly "un-american" view. We invented the language, after all. 😂

Even my East Texas native father would benefit from some ear training. He had to watch Sherlock with subtitles.

Ideally, my kid would understand all the language in all the Blackadder sketches and not look at people funny when they drop their articles and the occasional being verb.

I don't know, I just feel a little "you kids get off my linguistic lawn" when I see American teens writing, "Your wrong. Its not open. Their still in there box." Obviously this is accuracy rather than complexity... but I still want to take this opportunity to complain about it. 😁
 

Helpful Herbert

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I implore anyone to not be afraid of being bi-lingual and shunning away your culture to be financially prosperous.
Very interesting post. The problem is that when the kids are small they are not particularly interested in their traditional culture etc., they are more interested in doing stuff that is fun and exciting that their friends do. By the time they might be interested in such things (15+) it's probably too late to become a native speaker, but hopefully they have had enough exposure to at least be able to get to a reasonable level of fluency.
 

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