New York Times ran an article a couple of days ago about how Indonesians’ younger generations nowadays are more fluent in English, some can’t even master the national language. It’s a pretty good article and pretty much portraying the current ‘trend’ in upper – middle class parenting accurately.
I have noticed this since we moved back here, these little children running around talking in fluent English with their Nannies barely-there-English tendering after them.
Me, I think it is fantastic to introduce another language to a child since their tender age because we all know that it’s easier to teach them early but honestly it is sad to thinks that most of these children can’t even speak in their own native language when they were born, live and growing up in Indonesia.
Just as our boy holds dual citizenship, we hope and we try to grow him into someone who master both languages. I have to admit that sometimes I still let him get by with mixing both languages, I’m a firm believer that he will eventually pick it up. He can carry a full sentence in English and in Indonesian now although there are times where if he doesn’t know the word in Indonesian, he’ll use English.
He is half Indonesian and my lack of nationalism feelings will be offended if he doesn’t know his other half of the two major languages in his life. Of course I understand if these ‘mixed kids’ live outside of Indonesia where the only interactions they will be exposed to the native language would be at home with their mother but from a blogger/writer name Santi Dharmaputra who co-wrote a book called “Anak-Anak Multibahasa” (Multilingual Children), I had learn so much more about raising multilingual child. I highly recommend this book to parents of Indonesian mix marriages. Her children are fluent in Indonesian, French and English!
The key is One Parent One Language – and consistency, which is something I’m still trying to balance out because I still speaks some words in English too but meeting Santi has opened up a lot of discussions about this and you bet I will stay in touch with her.
Funny is how if he’s asked in English, he would often reply in Indonesian especially if the person who ask him is a local. Even one of my Aunt noticed this and she said “If you put him in an international school with local teachers that speaks English, imagine him answering questions in Indonesian?“
Honestly, I have no idea how he would handle school but I want him to go to school that teaches both languages. International schools are like mushrooms here in Jakarta, they’re pretty much all over but there are schools who doesn’t offer Indonesian language lesson at all.
Children have amazing abilities to learn languages so I really think that if the parents only limited their children to one language – in this case English and totally ditched out their own native language – they pretty much underestimate their children!
If Lil’ A who is a ‘mixed product’ like so many other mix children can masters two languages fluently, what is stopping you from teaching two languages? If we would’ve stayed longer in China, you bet we would be introducing a third language in the mix.
Sometimes people do make comments about Lil’ A when they hear him speaking in Indonesian. “Bule kok bahasa Indonesia yah?” (He’s ‘bule’ but why is he speaking in Indonesian?) this is just one example of the comments I usually heard and of course I would reply with “Why not?“
What do you think about this ‘phenomenon’? Will it make our language extinct? What do you think about teaching your children other language?