Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Just six words, and I had already fallen in love with foreign languages.

Kiah, Yui, Akane and cherry blossom time
Every teacher has students who just do everything you could hope for. I'm not talking about just those who become language teachers (would I wish that on them?) I'm talking about those who clearly love the language, and all it can bring them, who catch on, get the bug, persist, pursue it and use it in all sorts of professional or personal paths. Chelsea is one, now working for a development agency. Kiah now living in Japan is another, a language addict who studied both Indonesian and Japanese to advanced levels, worked and struggled in poverty as a student, got herself to both countries. And like me, it puzzles and concerns her that Australians in their droves turn off and turn away from study of other languages. Read Kiah's blog post in Japanese if you can (google translate does a hopeless job on rendering it in English. See, we need humans to learn each other's languages.) Kiah has translated it into English for us.

Australia's Big Problem. Recently I haven’t written a blog, so I thought I would write a blog about a topic that’s important to me today.
Recently I have been emailing my Indonesian professor from when I was a university student about ‘the importance of studying foreign languages.’ The number of students in Australia studying foreign languages is decreasing rapidly. There are too few language teachers, and interest in foreign languages is also being lost.
‘Why should I study foreign languages? Everyone should just speak English!’ I have met many Australians who ask these questions.
Why has this type of thinking sprung up? Is it because Australia is separated from other countries? Is it because English is the easiest language to learn? (This is definitely untrue. People who think this have clearly never studied English as a second language.) Why is the study of foreign languages so hated?
When I was in primary school (year 4 I believe) I first experienced studying a foreign language. At my primary school, students had to study Indonesian from year 4 to year 7. The first thing I learnt was:

Siapa nama Anda?
Nama saya Haruko.

(What is your name?
My name is Haruko)
Just six words, and I had already fallen in love with foreign languages. The reason why was because, by using completely different words, I could still express the same meaning. To a fourth grade me, that was cool!
From that day till now, I still love studying foreign languages. When I started high school, I continued studying Indonesian but I started wanting to learn another language. At my school library I found a Japanese textbook and started teaching myself. Studying Japanese was fun, so when I started university I made Japanese and Indonesian my majors. Thanks to studying foreign languages, when I was in university, I was able to do student exchanges to universities in both Japan and Indonesia.
Thanks to studying foreign languages, I have made many friends, I have experienced other cultures, and have many good memories. If I only spoke English, I don’t think I would have been able to experience the things I have. *** Research and papers on the advantages of learning foreign languages have been done, yet there are still Australian youth who say ‘I don’t want to study languages.’ It’s not only the fault of their attitudes. As there aren’t many language teachers in Australia, there isn’t consistency in the languages taught.
Example: My primary school taught Indonesian. The closest high school to my primary school also taught Indonesian. However, the primary schools in the next district taught Japanese and Chinese, therefore when those students began at our high school, they suddenly had to study year 8 Indonesian. Many students dropped Indonesian because it was too difficult. When I started high school there were over 100 students (in year 8) who were studying Indonesian. By the time I graduated high school, there were only five students (including myself) still studying Indonesian.
This problem is a nation-wide problem. This year the Australian Government released the ‘White Paper.’ In it is written that from now they will have Asian languages studied in schools. In particular: Japanese, Indonesian, Hindi and Chinese.
These four languages are important to Australia. However, because there are few language teachers and students’ attitudes towards languages are so poor, how are they going to properly teach these languages?
As far as I know, there are no schools teaching Hindi. Of course there are people who speak Hindi, so they can become teachers, but it will take time. The government wants students to start studying languages as soon as possible, but because it will take time, how will they fix the current problems? How will they get students to study languages to an advanced level? We need to answer these kinds of questions.
(I apologize for this blog post being so long. I will finish here and next time I’ll write about my attitudes towards foreign languages, my memories and what I get out of it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How did Jacky Chan learn English?

Ellen: How did you learn English? You taught yourself English, right?
Jacky Chan: Yes.
Ellen: How did you learn?
Jacky Chan: By the song!
Ellen: What song?
Jacky Chan: Oh, all kind of song. Before, I tried to listen, I watch TV but I cannot repeat. So I buy cassette, oh, I'm talking about long time ago, no DVD, CD, cassette, the cassette, the country song! You know like Willie Nelson, so and so. And when you hear the song: [sings] "You are always on my mind, you are always on my mind." [audience claps.] Then, oh! Then I can talk to the girls, you know.
Ellen: Right, and when we come back, you are actually a very popular singer, and uh, like, one of your songs was downloaded 500 million times! So, when we come back, Jacky's going to sing for us.
Jackie Chan Ellen DeGeneres Interview 8/01/2010 (Full)
Comment on YouTube page:
Jackie Talking: *accent*
Jackie Singing: *no accent*