Wednesday 18 November 2009

4Y10M 3Y1M マレー語クラス Malay language classes








When I lived in Singapore, I didn't try to learn either Mandarin nor Malay. At the language school where I was working as a part-time Japanese teacher, after my 9-5 job, teachers were allowed to attend any other classes as a student. But I was taking a German class.....

This time, I'm more determined to learn Malay. In Malay, they call Malay language 'Bahasa (= language) Melayu (= Malay)' or 'Bahasa Malaysia.' But generally they say, "Do you speak Bahasa?"

At first, I attended a class by a Malaysian Chinese woman at her house. She teaches basic sentences but more or less most of her classes were taken up by talking about Malaysian culture in English. It's far from learning a language. Christine and I started to look for a more solid course. But it was so hard to find one. Quite a few people come to Malaysia to study English, and probably learning Malay is not that popular.

I was about to give up. But Christine found a course at USM (university). The course is for the foreign students who come to Malaysia to study, and it's one of the compulsory subjects they need to complete their courses. Anyway, we, 3 of us, decided to attend a class twice a week for one semester. The course is well designed and it follows a proper caliculum. On top of that, there are exams, such as mid-semester, oral, final exams..... It's good for me, as it's quite motivating. I may take the next level up next year.

In Malaysia, Malay, Tamil and Chinese are the main languages. Probably most of the foreigners think Chinese will be more useful, I'm often asked why I learn Malay. My reason is we can only learn Malay in Malaysia while Chinese is spoken in several other countries. In addition, to understand the culture of the country, it's better if you speak a bit of their language.

There is one problem though. I don't need to speak Malay in Penang and not much chances to practice. Most of them speak fluent English. Between different races, they speak Malay but still they often speak English to each other. Or more interestingly, for example, an Indian Malaysian and a Chinese Malaysian speak in Hokkien, a Chinese dialect!

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