The International Association
Name: Joshe Tiu
Nationality or Ethnicity: Filipino of Chinese origin (Chinese Filipino/“Chinoy”)
Where do you live?: Manila, Philippines
Languages: Tagalog (Native), English (Native), Chinese Mandarin (Advanced), Philippine Hokkien (Native), Spanish (Intermediate), Bahasa Indonesia (Intermediate), French (Basic), Korean (Basic), Cantonese (Basic), Thai (Basic)
1. What’s your story? How did you get into all these languages?
My language journey began at the early age of 4. Being born and raised in Manila, the languages that are used here are Tagalog and English. Since I was born in a family of Chinese origin, my grandparents can only communicate with me in Hokkien. Therefore, I had no choice but to learn how to speak the language in order to talk with them effectively. Growing up, I studied in a Chinese school and we were all required to learn Chinese Mandarin starting from elementary. To sum up my childhood, I was raised with 4 languages without doing anything.
It was later in my life that I decided to pursue language learning; I was around 20 years old when I got the chance to travel to Bangkok, Thailand along with my friends. There was a day that I decided to travel on my own and explore the city by myself. In that instance, I found it so hard to communicate with people that I needed to use different kinds of hand gestures just to somehow communicate with the natives. It was during that moment that I realized the importance of learning languages. If I spoke their language, it would have been easier to send my message across. Further, I also realized that it was only one of the places on earth, and there are still a lot more! So, I really have to learn even more languages! After going home from the trip, I started to enroll in different language classes up until now.
2. Which language(s) do you wish you could spend more time practising?
I hope I can improve my Thai. It is the most complicated language that I have learned so far. From the writing system, to the sentence structure, and the vocabulary, I need more time to enhance my Thai skills.
3. What are some languages you’d like to learn in the future?
I would love to learn Hindi, Russian, and Vietnamese in the future. Hindi because it will be one of the most influential languages in a few decades. Russian because it sounds and looks really cool. Vietnamese because I would love to get to know more about our Southeast Asian neighbors.
4. So let’s be honest, what’s the sexiest language?
There’s no doubt that it’s French! I love the way it sounds, especially in a fast and smooth manner. It feels like it’s liquid, like I’m diving in the ocean. I think I will fall in love with people who can speak this “sexy” language very fluently.
5. What’s the greatest pleasure you get from speaking so many languages?
Through learning languages, I am now able to communicate better with people from different parts of the world. In addition, I am able to appreciate what I have and don’t have. I am now able to understand the meaning of life, and to have a deep foundation about my identity. Now, I can communicate with my workmates more effectively through learning different languages.
6. Some people say the world is really just going to have a few languages left in a 100 years, do you think this is really true?
Sadly, some languages are bound to be extinct because this is the cycle of life. Some languages may die, but it does not mean that new languages cannot be born. Languages die, languages will be born, it is a natural cycle. However, I do not agree that there will be a few languages that will be left in 100 years. We lived in a time of derogation wherein a lot of people, including their cultures and languages, were killed by the more powerful forces. As a result, people started to follow the footsteps of these superpowers (learning their way of life, language, policies, etc.) However, in recent years, people are starting to uncover more about their identities, cultures, and languages. In a few decades, these languages will be revitalized and used again by their native speakers. And, this trend will go on and influence other speakers to do the same. It’s time to discover more about diversity!
7. What is your message to young (and not so young) people out there who are interested in studying multiple languages?
To the young people and to the aspiring language learners out there, you are all very lucky to be alive today! Times are changing, and people are starting to uncover more about diversity. In addition, it might be tough to excel if a person only knows 1 or 2 languages in this era. We are entering an era of discovery so it is not surprising if a person can speak at least 4 languages. My advice? Never stop learning each and every day, take time to learn a thing or two each day. Be persistent, and be curious!