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English 101- Fernando Pérez

January 31, 2021

My languages

Since I was little, I kept speaking Japanese and Vietnamese as mix with the people who were around me, mostly with my family. One day, my friends in school asked me why I spoke another language and sometimes they could hear me speaking Japanese at the same time while I was speaking Vietnamese with my family. To me, it seems normal to change languages while speaking because that’s how I grew up. After I heard they’re questioning me, I asked myself “why am I” because I didn’t have an answer for that. As I grew, I noticed that I was a Multilingual. There are three things that I can explain why I am so. First, the most comfortable language that I use the most. Second, When I switched languages and why I’m code-switching. Last, How do I feel about when I use different languages?

Japanese is my first language which is the most comfortable one that I use the most. I was born and raised in Japan, Japanese was the only language that I could speak when I was little. When I used to live in Japan and the school that I went to, there were only Japanese students which means I only had Japanese friends at the moment. So it means that I had to speak the same language as they were so that they could understand what I was trying to say. Also, I used to talk with my sibling in full Japanese. That being said, I could say I’m Japanese but I am actually not.

My second language is Vietnamese. I remember when I was little, I could not speak Vietnamese at all. I was speaking “broken Vietnamese” which only my family could understand me. As I grew, my vietnamese got better even though I have never learned Vietnamese. I think I tried to speak it as much as I could so that I could learn a lot of it. I speak Vietnamese when I’m with my family at home. Since I wasn’t good at speaking it, I often find myself switching languages mid-sentence when I forget a particular word which I switch to Japanese. The reason why I’m “code-switching” is that to my family, Japanese isn’t the first language. They can’t understand me fully if I speak Japanese only. I switch languages when my family needs me to help translate something for them as well. For example, if there was an important document that they need to work on but it has a lot of difficult Japanese which is “Kanji”, they might need my help.

English is my third language and I learned it when I moved here. I was struggling a lot with English and needed some help with my school work and communication with other people. Now, I feel like my brain’s becoming English little by little such as when I’m thinking of something to say, I would think of it in English first. Since my English isn’t perfect yet, I still sometimes look at other languages and translate them to English. Personally, learning a new language is not easy. It is really hard to speak multiple languages at a time. But I got this skill since I was little as naturally so I feel like I’m a special person. I’m lucky to have a family who gave me a chance to have the skill that I never knew I had it.

In all, my brain processes different languages in different ways. For example, when I am upset, I automatically think in Japanese which is my first language. Because I speak multiple languages, I think and act differently according to which language it is. And that is how I grew up.

Work Cited

Hamilton, Kathy “Code- Switching in My Multilingual Family”

Code-Switching in My Multilingual Family

Tan, Amy “Mother Tongue”,The World is a Text: Writing, Reading, and Thinking about

Culture and Its Contexts (2003): 291.



Ignatius Alamsyah

Prof. Fernando Pérez

ENGL 101

1 February 2021

Code Switching is Difficult

I was born in Semarang Indonesia, a small city in the Central of Java. As an Indonesian, I was born around Indonesian culture and I was taught by my parents how to speak Bahasa Indonesia, not English. In the modern era, more and more people are moving to study abroad. And I am one of them. From my everyday life, I have switched between Indonesian and English to communicate, between me with my parents, and my classmates.

Since I was a kid, I always being pushed by my parents to study English. Although they don’t speak English at all, they still pushed me to learn English. I am happy enough to have the opportunity to learn English since I was six. But, before all of this, I nearly never use my English. I entered Bellevue College by Fall 2020, and I have never been in a situation where I have to use English that much. When I mean much, in my opinion, it is still wasn’t that much. I still considered myself an introvert among my classmates.

As an international student, code switching happens to me in the most essential moment of studying. Esen mentioned that code switching occurs “mostly in bilingual communities” (Esen Code Switching: Definition, Types, and Examples). Moving to the United States from where I am right now has not been an easy path for me. Even my physical self is still in Indonesia, I already felt some of the culture shock. As an Indonesian, I realize that I have a lot of Indonesian friends. And right now, I don’t even have any international friends that I communicate with every day. I joined a group of Indonesian Catholic Students of Seattle, and most of them are already sophomores or juniors, and so, they have already moved to the United States. During this hard time, where I am still taking remote classes from Indonesia, they are the ones who I used my English the most to, from outside classes. Even though it is still mixed Indonesian-English, not pure American English.

When I was talking to my seniors who have been moving and staying in the US, most of them use mixed Indonesian English, something like “You mau makan apa?” that means “What do you want to eat?” to be honest, at first, I was not comfortable with that kind of language. As I was growing up around strong Indonesian culture, that kind of sentence was odd for me. It is either to use Indonesian, or English. And just that.

From time to time, the more frequent conversation we held, the more I started to realize the convenience that I wasn’t even thinking about that style ever before. I feel like the impact of words in English is somehow greater than in Bahasa Indonesia. Also, it is sometimes more effective to use English. By using the second language, “allows speakers to increase the impact of their speech and use it in a more effective manner” (Esen Code Switching: Definition, Types, and Examples).

 As my family and Indonesian friends do not speak English at all, to be honest, it is hard for me to switch every time I have to communicate with my peers. I can write something like this, but I am still not comfortable with my work. I still have to check it with Grammarly and stuff like that. When I first assigned 250 words essay, it took me around 4 hours to finish. As an international student who have never use English in a real-life situation ever before, no family involvement, and few relationships with an English speaker, it has been a rough path for me. I felt the same thing with Amy Tan about my parent’s language influence for me she mentions “it is affecting me how to speak English with proper grammar. And I believe that it affected my results on achievement tests, I.Q. tests, and the SAT. While my English skills were never judged as poor, compared to math, English could not be considered my strong suit” (Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan). I don’t know, if it is just me with slow language development, or just my thoughts that a communication with an English speaker is essential in developing good English. But as the time goes, I started to feel more and more comfortable with where I am right now, as I also have a strong desire to pursue an international career, not just in Indonesia.

Works Cited

Esen, Seckin. “Code Switching: Definition, Types, and Examples.” Owlcation, 2 Jan. 2019,

Tan, Amy. “Mother Tongue.”

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