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Why you should never boast that you’re bilingual?

Why you should never boast that you’re bilingual?

Topic 1

Why you should never boast that you’re bilingual?

I remember the first time I went to Taiwan. I was with my sister and cousin and I was 16.

It was my first time in a place that spoke primarily Mandarin, and as I was raised in an English-speaking family, I barely had any experience speaking a sentence in complete Mandarin. However, I was confident that I would be able to survive 2 weeks in this country with the Mandarin I learnt in my 10 years of education.

I was wrong.

In a few days, we were knee deep in the Taiwanese lifestyle: shopping and eating at night markets, which then led up to Taiwan’s famous wholesale market, Wufenpu, on the last day. I split from my cousin and sister with an agreement to meet up at 11pm.

I was losing myself in my shopping, and time flew past faster than the speed of light. Before I knew it, it was a quarter to 11, and I was totally and utterly lost.

I started looking around for directions, and also for someone who could communicate with me. In that moment, I was lost and frantic, and had completely forgotten all my Mandarin.

I was running around the place, trying to find somebody who could speak English, and I was going “Wo zai na li? Ni hui chu qu ma? (Where am I? Do you know how to get out?)” in the most horrible Mandarin accent known to mankind.

In retrospect, I probably looked like I lost my mind.

I got out from Wufenpu with the help of an English speaking Taiwanese at 1108, late for the meeting with my cousin and sister.

With them staring at me for an explanation for my tardiness, I was forced to tell my sister and cousin about my disastrous experience, and I was met with guffaws. They laughed and told me that I should not have showed off so much prior to the trip, and that I should stick with one of them for the rest of the trip, as they spoke Mandarin more than me.

After that disastrous trip, I went back to Taiwan a few more times on my own to hone my language skills. I was forced to learn Mandarin as I used it, and I never, ever, overestimated myself again.

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