One of the advantages of growing up as a third culture kid is that I am able to speak more than one language at a conversational level. Growing up, I was placed in an international school which communicated mainly in English and at home I would spoke to my parents in Chinese. I slowly developed the both English and Chinese proficiency and I didn’t lose either in the process.
Chinese is my mother tongue. I was spoken to in Chinese since the day I was born. Living in Beijing till the age of 3, Chinese was the only language I was exposed to. All of that changed when my dad got a job in Paris, and my family moved to Paris, where I was exposed to a whole different culture and language. I was placed in a French kindergarten for 2 years, learning French as well as the ways of the French culture. After two years, my dad moved again; this time to Bangkok.
Many people might not know this, but I learned how to speak English through French. I came to Bangkok and was placed right away in St. Johns International School in the other part of town. Luckily for me, my ESL teacher back then knew how to speak a little bit of French. This allowed me to slowly learn English through a language we both knew. However, I had never learnt how to read or write French, so I soon lost my abilities to speak French. My English skills improved day by day, at the same time I have also been studying and speaking on Saturdays at the Chinese Language Center.
I have experienced a lot of for different languages. These experiences have shaped up who I am and what languages I speak today. It would be very interesting to think about what I would be like if my family never moved to Bangkok and I was still in a French Public School next to my home in Paris. I can tell you one thing: the language I would be speaking would be very different to what I can speak now.