My Language Adventure - Merit Award 2019:
A merit award has been granted to Chloe Tan for her essay "My Language Adventure".
Chloe lives in Malaysia and her mother tongue is English. She attends Hun Bin Chinese Primary School in Tanjung Bunga Penang.
Malaysia is my home. One of the fascinating things about my country is that over 130 languages and dialects are spoken here.
This is due to the fact that many ethnic groups live in Malaysia. Imagine how chaotic life would be if Malaysians couldn’t communicate with one other. This is why language is important in a country like mine. It’s like a gift.
I learn three languages at school every day: Malay, which is the national language; (Mandarin) Chinese; and English. These are three of the four main languages of my country. The fourth is Tamil, the language spoken by my ethnic Indian friends.
I am also learning how to speak Hokkien, a Chinese dialect, at home because I’m an ethnic Chinese. Hokkien is widely spoken in my hometown, Penang. But Hokkien isn’t the only Chinese dialect spoken here. There are others, such as Cantonese, Hainanese, and Teochew. These dialects reflect the wonderful diversity of Chinese culture.
Learning languages is interesting but can be challenging. For example, it took me ages to learn Chinese! The process began when I was three. I couldn’t understand a single Chinese word back then because English is my first language. It was tough, and I cried a lot and wanted to give up. My parents, however, encouraged me to continue, and I somehow did.
Chinese is now my favourite subject, and I snatch at every chance to learn it. I am learning Chinese not only at school but also through talking with friends, reading comics, and watching cartoons. Maybe the reason I didn’t give up Chinese is there’s some kind of language gene in me! I mean, my family just loves languages!
For example, whenever we go on a holiday, we will always learn the language of our holiday destination. I now know how to say “Hello” in Japanese (“Konnichiwa”) and in Thai (“Sawadee”). Learning new languages helps me to make new friends.
The one language that I really want to learn is Korean. This is because I love K-pop, and it’s frustrating not to understand what my favourite superstars are singing about. I suppose I could read the translations—but that’s not fun! But when I know Korean, I can understand the songs easily. I can even chat with my idols! That will be my dream come true!
Congratulations, Chloe! Thanks so much for your inspiring story! Keep up the great work; we are looking forward to hearing more from you!
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