I spent today doing a refresher first aid course conducted in ‘Bahasa Indonesia’, the official name of the Indonesian language. Indonesian is my second language, and honestly my level is only conversational. I felt confident that I was able to understand 95% of the class and passed the exam. I learnt something new, and had fun. It’s taken a while to get to this level – I’m a bit slow and, although I love when I learn languages, it doesn’t come naturally to me.
When I arrived Home, I started panicking that I know NO French and NO Spanish, and I’ve only got two months to learn. I learnt the French children’s song ‘Alouette’ when I was a kid, but I can’t spend my time saying to all I meet “Je te plumerai la tête” (I will pluck your head). I sometimes overheard my father wishing his friends “Bonne f***ing soirée”. For years I thought f***ing was a French word. I know less Spanish. Perhaps I know a few food words in both languages, they are important after all.
I’ve travelled places in Asia where English isn’t wildly understood, and have managed a few phrases in the local language, but I look different, and have found people very patient and forgiving. In Europe, I’ll blend in a bit more… Until I open my mouth.
I will endeavour to download some language apps… and hopefully find time to learn some basics. But I wonder if I can get away with “Minta ma’af, saya tidak berbicara bahasa Perancis atau Spanyol” (I’m sorry I don’t speak French or Spanish). No?