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Archive for August, 2011


Random post, but yesterday as I parked my car outside my house, I saw school kids crossing the road to and from Garden City shopping centre.

I saw an little Asian boy (ok by little I mean maybe 13 or 14), walking out of Garden City, happily sipping his bubble tea. Then, a few steps away from my car as he was about to turn the corner, he hid his bubble tea in his jacket. I wondered why he did that, and then I saw.

From the opposite direction, a group of kids from his school (all wearing the same school blazer from Applecross Senior High, I think) were walking towards him. He didn’t want them to see him holding his bubble tea.

Why?

I imagine it was because he didn’t want to be stereotyped as a typical Asian kid who loves bubble tea. My first reaction to that thought was, who cares!

But when you’re a teenager in high school, you do care. You want your peers to accept you and think you’re cool (or whatever word or phrase kids use these days). You don’t want them to point and laugh, even if, in the grand scheme of things, their opinion really doesn’t matter. It matters here and now.

Perhaps a few years from now, he’ll think back on that incident and smirk to himself. Or he might not remember it at all.

I know I will.

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Tongue-Tied


A lot of people assume, when they meet me, that English is not my first language.

Not because of the way I speak it (although yes, I do have an accent), but because of the fact that I am not from one of the ‘native-speaking’ countries*. Most often, they assume this based on my appearance (tanned skin, almond-shaped, dark eyes, dark hair), as well as my accent (many people think I’m Canadian – eh?).

It’s interesting because although I am confident in my English-speaking (and writing, and listening, and reading etc) ability, due to my awareness of this assumption that most people have of me here in Australia, I tend to trip up and get tongue-tied and speak funny at times when I feel under pressure.

For example, when I’m talking to customers at work and describing how a product works, I sometimes find myself getting the singular and plurals wrong, as well as mixing multiple tenses into my sentences. It’s so weird because I know it’s wrong, and at the time I do it, I catch myself immediately but my tongue just does not want to cooperate! I’ve said things like “Use this over two week” instead of saying “weeks”. What the eff?

It is annoying and infuritating to me because I am paranoid that the ladies I talk to are smiling benignly at me not because I am a pleasant and lovely salesperson but because they are humouring me since English is obviously not my first language and it’s a struggle for me to speak in “their language”. My imagination goes into overdrive as I conjure up their thoughts in my own head: perhaps she’s thinking of me “Aww, how sweet she got that wrong” or “My, she speaks so fluently! Fantastic!”

Let me just have a moment of total and utter vanity and self-promotion here (as I believe I am entitled) to announce for probably the millionth time to anyone who listens that I scored a 9.0 on my IELTS (International English Language Testing System), across the board. 9.0 on EVERY single thing. 9.0 is the maximum, the highest mark you could possibly get for the IELTS test.

When I showed this to my migration agent he was impressed and asked to take a copy of my certificate, as he hadn’t seen such a score “in about ten years”. In fact, he told me to frame it. So excuse me for tooting my own horn. Before he reacted that way, I didn’t think it was THAT big a deal. I mean, yes, I thought it was awesome and a big deal, but not THAT big a deal, y’know? So, I feel, belatedly, that I should bask, revel and boast about this since it’s kind of rare. Not terribly rare, but still rare and special.

Thank you. *Bows*

* Countries generally accepted as ‘native-speaking’: USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Canada and sometimes South Africa.

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