Growing up in Indonesia, I have always been told to be fluent in English. When I was a kid, teachers and elders brainwashed me into thinking that mastering English was all it took to be called brilliant. They said I had to always practice my English by speaking it every damned day. My grandmother used to compare me with my brother who has been speaking English fluently since God-knows-when. Weirdly enough, I would always refuse to speak English, even if it was only with my own mother or brother. I felt extremely uncomfortable speaking a foreign language to others. I used to always think that people who spoke English in public were a bunch of pretentious showoffs, “Why don’t they speak Bahasa Indonesia instead? I mean.. aren’t they Indonesians who currently live in Indonesia?” — they really got on my nerves.
Now as I think about it, I really shouldn’t have been so salty about Indonesians who uses English as their daily conversational language. I mean, it’s just a matter of language. Besides, every individual’s preferences is different; maybe they feel more comfortable speaking in English rather than in Bahasa Indonesia. THAT IS WHY no one should NEVER EVER degrade people who cannot speak English fluently. Most of the time, people who have difficulties in speaking English get taunted, mocked, and belittled. Someone who ridicules people who speak English with accents is a piece of trash — hey, at least these people are fucking trying to learn another foreign language, it’s not easy. To speak in a foreign language, the brain has to switch back and forth as we are already familiar with our own mother-tongue. Some motherfuckers even have the audacity to assume themselves as superior, just because they are good and fluent in English. Nah, you still ain’t shit. Students who go to local international schools be like, “We here are prepared well to study abroad for better education”. Abroad where? America with Donald Trump? Or United Kingdom with Theresa May, who is skeptical towards immigrants? People who do not speak English fluently are not stupid — it just means that they have not mastered the English language yet. It’s the same as a Chinese who can’t speak or write in Mandarin (me).
English is just a language, yet I know that it gets ridiculously glorified here in Indonesia. Most jobs and universities prioritize individuals who own high knowledge in English. Also, you are assumed as smart if you are good at it. It seems that I’m being a hypocrite myself, as I want to be a qualified English teacher for kids when I’m older.. But I just want to teach kids that learning English can be fun, without the pressure to master the damned language (like I used to when I was a kid). To be honest, the English language is universally useful in connecting millions of people coming from different countries (due to the brutality of colonialism… but that’s a different story) — that’s why it is treated as something essential. But as I’ve told you before, it’s just a matter of language. And it’s okay if you aren’t that good at it, as long as you still have the willingness to study or keep improving. If you don’t have that kind of motivation, it’s fine either way. Your life, your choices. No one forces white folks to master Bahasa Indonesia either, right?