China, America, and Japan. Chinese, English, and Japanese. My mother tongue is Chinese, but English comes more naturally to me at most times. As for Japanese, I have been living in Japan since Pre-school, I basically grew up here, so the language is very familiar to me and I also have been learning the language at school ever since I came to YIS. I feel cool and proud to know that I am able to communicate in three different languages, or maybe even more in the future. I would have never thought that I would be able to speak three languages this well when I was born.
This may sound a bit strange, but I speak to my family with mixed languages. I say a few words in Chinese, then English, then Japanese, I have always wondered if other multilingual people are in this kind of situation. Although this happens sometimes, at home Chinese is mainly spoken with my parents and Japanese with my younger brother (his first language is Japanese). I find it really useful to have three languages, apart from it being convenient, it allows you to interact with many more people. If you know more than one language, you will realize that there are so many expressions of one language that you just can’t express through the other. This can be frustrating sometimes because you try to translate the expression but then it doesn’t really make sense in the other language. Having more than one language makes your thinking more diverse, your brain naturally makes you think with the perspective of all your languages which I believe is what makes an international minded person – being able to see situations in a culturally unbiased perspective, understanding and respecting all perspectives.
Living in Japan for almost my whole life and growing up with education where English is prioritized, makes Chinese used less often in daily life other than basic conversations with my family. Chinese is my mother tongue, so I believe it is very important to be fluent, which is why I have continued to take Chinese lessons once a week since elementary. Recently, I decided to take the HSK Chinese language proficiency test, on one hand, to prove my fluency and on the other hand to see for myself what level I am at. I am quite satisfied with my results as I scored much higher than the passing point at the highest test level. However, at the same time, I was able to see what I struggled with, I lost much of my points in the writing section because I couldn’t remember how to write the characters of certain sentences I wanted to express. I actually expected this because there is not much opportunity to write in Chinese in daily life other than homework from my lessons. Also because I am so used to typing, when you type the pinyin in the computer, the character will come out itself. But the funny thing is that I am able to read Chinese books, I recognize the character when I see it but I just can’t write it sometimes. This is something I want to improve on, which is also one of the reasons I chose to learn calligraphy, to practice my writing.
Lastly, like I mentioned before, being multilingual is a great benefit. Your brain automatically brings you to see things from different perspectives, other than being convenient, I believe it will also bring much more opportunities in life. I am very grateful to have three languages.