English Please

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This blog i read from an american who lived here in philippines. By the way, his blog is so interesting and it kept me reading all their stuff till the wee hours of the night (or dawn). I am quoting this one from their blog.

Here's the url so that you can go check it out too...

http://www.liveinthephilippines.com/blog/

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Recently, with “AmericanLola” participating in the blog, there has been some talk about learning the local language wherever you are living in the Philippines. I can tell you, based on my experience, that only a small percentage of foreigners living here take the time to learn the local language. This is true especially of Americans.

I have a little joke that I keep handy when the situation is right:

Q: Do you know what they call somebody who can speak two languages?
A: Sure, it’s called “bilingual.”

Q: Do you know what they call somebody who can speak more than two languages?
A: Sure, it’s called “multilingual.”

Q: Do you know what they call somebody who can speak only one language?
A: Hmmm…. I can’t think of an answer.

The answer is - an American!

This is very true, and most Americans speak only English. Go to Europe, the average person there can speak 3 or 4 languages. Here in the Philippines people can speak multiple languages as well (let’s not get into the whole debate over what is a language and what is a dialect, nobody will ever win). Why do Americans find it so hard to learn another language?

A few years ago, a friend from the States was here visiting me. He was telling me that even in the short time that I have been gone (7+ years) the problem of illegal immigration from Mexico had gotten much worse than when I was there. He was very upset about how the Mexicans coming into the States didn’t even take the time to learn how to speak English. Now, that has been a stickler for Americans for years, it bothers us that people would come to our country, yet they don’t make any effort to learn to speak English so that they can blend in with the rest of the country.

I sat there listening to my friend, and suddenly it struck me. Can I speak fluent Tagalog or Cebuano? No. Hmm… I thought… “how many Americans who come here make an effort to learn Tagalog or the language in their local region?” The answer was clear to me - almost none do. Yet, most of us are upset about the fact that the Mexicans come to the States and do not make any effort to learn English. Seems hypocritical, don’t you think?

Well, the fact is that I can speak some Cebuano (that is the language of choice where I live - also regularly called Bisaya). I have gone to classes on two different occasions for a couple of months each. I can speak enough Cebuano to get by in public, but I am not fluent. I can understand maybe 70% of what I hear, at least in a general way. I intend to keep making a personal effort toward learning the language. When you go out in public, people appreciate it when you can speak even a few words of their language. They are clearly in joy when they see that!

Going back to AmericanLola, I have met her and her husband on several occasions, and I consider them to be friends, even good friends. When I have seen them converse in Cebuano, or talk with waiters or clerks in Cebuano, I have been so impressed (and jealous) by it! Now, here are two people who not only made the effort to learn enough to get by, they are as fluent as they could possibly be. Feyma has told me that when she speaks with AmericanLola the language is indistinguishable from a local speaker. Now, to me that is impressive.

How about you? Do you intend to learn the language when you get here? How do you feel about others coming into your country when they don’t make an effort to learn the language?

~ Quoted from an entry from http://www.liveinthephilippines.com/blog/ ~


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