Believe it or not, there are plenty of people in Southeast Asia that grow up speaking English. It might seem weird to people, knowing that we were born in our own country and live with people that barely speak English.
But some parents think that it’s important to get their children used to speaking in English since it might be useful in the future – most of us think it will be our ticket for a lot of employment opportunities. It’s also considered as a language of survival especially when traveling abroad.
Others choose to learn the language because they simply like it – I’m one of them.
As an English speaker in Southeast Asia, I can say that my life is quite eventful with struggles and awkward situations.Here are some things that I’ve experienced, and if you’re anything like me you probably have, too:
1. Trouble in understanding some words in my mother tongue
You have a pretty limited knowledge of your mother tongue since it’s not a language you speak every day. All you can do during family gatherings is wave, nod, and smile.
2. People bitch about you…
Not just behind your back, but right in your face. It’s sad that since you can barely understand anything, they can talk about you, anytime and anywhere they want.
3. … but in the end, you finally understand but pretend you have no idea
Yes, I’m learning. And I know what you’re talking about, bitches.
4. You’re having a hard time getting along with relatives
With the language barrier, most of them wouldn’t want to spend their time with you since it’s too hard for them to communicate.
Sad, but true.
5. Being asked the same questions over and over again
“Why can’t you speak your own language?”
“Can you speak other languages too?
“Are you mixed?”
“Were you raised in UK/America?”
Urgh… here we go again. *roll eyes*
6. “You should be proud of your own heritage!”
“Are you too proud to speak your own mother tongue? Stop showing off!”
7. Your accent is different and… unique
Because you always sound like a foreigner trying to speak your ethnic language. It’s awkward when everyone turned to you before you speak, just to focus on your accent…
“Awww… she’s trying to speak our language, it’s so cute!” *shyly smiles*
8. They try to imitate the way you speak, sometimes with a mocking expression
It doesn’t matter to them if you’re offended, they find it funny.
9. Still, you have the respect of the younger family members
“Oh, my God! Can you teach me how to speak Eng-ge-rish?”
10. It’s always hard to find friends at first in school
It’s the same struggle as getting along with relatives. Not everyone understands and is comfortable being with someone who speaks a different language.
11. You’re “too Westernized” to be with them
“I’m too what?!”
And I’ve never even been to Western countries… smh
12. You’re shamed for speaking English all the time and verbally bullied
Because apparently, we’ve betrayed our motherland.
13. When your teacher asks you to read in your language and everyone started to laugh
That’s the most dreadful moment in the class because you might pronounce words incorrectly.
14. You have no problem mastering any subject in English
Oh, yeah… this is a piece of cake!
15. Some people are amazed when you start to speak English without any problems
Confidence level = limit exceeded.
16. But when it comes to presentations, everyone immediately points at you
“Oh, come on! Again? Why me, why?” and that’s when you wish you could turn invisible.
17. When it’s time for karaoke and everyone chose local songs
There’s always be one popular song that everyone knows and the only thing you could do is just “Ohh…yeah yeah…” or you’re probably the wet blanket at this, just be there and sit quietly. Of course, your friends would understand and let you choose any song you can sing.
That’s… if there are any English songs at all.
18. You keep getting weird questions from strangers when they hear you talk
“Were you adopted by white parents?”
19. It’s a HUGE relief to see English subtitles on local soap operas
It means EVERYTHING to you! Imagine when there are no subtitles and you have to pester anyone next to you, just to know what the bloody hell all these people talking about.
Unfortunately, most shows don’t have subtitles.
20. Being asked to deal with foreigners
“No problem. Just leave it to me.”