Okay a very short post this weekend just to write something that has been in my mind for years now.
Earlier today I was being asked (well not directly, but I felt like the question was also valid for me) something that made me laugh nervously, “Kalau nikahnya sama orang indo, ngapain mesti pake bahasa Inggris sehari-hari ke anak-anak?” (If you got married to a fellow Indonesian, why must you talk to your kids in English?).
Well, that’s how it is in our family.
Both I and Husband are Indonesians, our kids were born in Singapore, and we talk to them in English on daily basis. They understand and speak better in English than Indonesian — which we rarely talk to them with.
We are not trying to be snobbish nor thinking that Indonesian is below English or whatever (which for some reasons always the first thing that people think about us when we talk to them about our family situation) — we deliberately chose English because we simply are not settling down in Indonesia for now. English is used universally around the world and it will be easier for our kids to adjust with a universal language wherever we go next.
So there — that’s the main reason.
We have other reasons though. I have been living abroad since I was 18. That’s almost half of my life. I did my education in English, and so is my daily life. Along the way, it became easier for me to form my thoughts and words in English than in Indonesian. Often times I am struggling to find the translation of an English word in Indonesian – and when that happens, my brain freezes. Again, I am not trying to be snobbish or Jaksel (I found out that this is the hype word now to explain a phenomena of Indonesians using English in their daily lives) — it’s just how my brain works now. Rather than having my brain stops working when I am talking to my kids, I choose to use English whenever I am talking to them.
And what are the consequences of this?
We need to use correct grammar and words when we are talking to our kids. We can’t just throw incorrect English here and there and expecting our kids to speak proper English. And speaking proper English as non-native speaker is hard.
Another one is we need to find English books for them. In Singapore, there are plenty of them. But here in Germany, we need to import them for somewhere else. Luckily the UK has great Islamic books publisher and it’s still quite nearby – so we shop there.
And lastly, there’s always going to be snide comments coming from outsider when they know about our situation. Mostly thinking of why we don’t speak Indonesian to our kids and how they are going to losing their roots as Indonesians. Which is a fair ask – but they forgot one thing: do our kids have Indonesian roots at all?
The answer is not really.
And it’s totally fine with me.
What I want them to have as their roots is as a Moslem. It doesn’t matter if in the future they decide to change their citizenship to another country’s — as long as they stay true as a Moslem. Being able to speak Indonesian will definitely help them in the future if they decide to explore Indonesia as their future home, but for now, we are content with what we have as a family.