English has always been my forte since elementary school. Hell, since I was in kindergarten. Let me tell you a story first, alright?
When I was little, the whole family speak English except of me and my big sister (obviously) teased me about my inability to speak that particular language. I mean, I was born to a multilingual family; my parents speak to each other in Javanese, we all communicate with Indonesian, and to the outside world we sometimes use Sundanese and when my paternal grandfather is around, my dad would mix up some Chinese words with Indonesian and Javanese. I understood all if not some of them (except Chinese. I’m really bad at it. I don’t even know how to read my Chinese name.) but I was still rubbish at English. (Not that I’m excellent at it either right now, but I can say I am way better.) So yes, that drives me to learn this foreign language.
At one point in my life, I was better in another language (Japanese) than English and actually had started to implement it in my real life, but then I found American tv shows.
So I started to watch them, and another, and another, until I was very accustomed to hearing English. Yes, I’ve watched several English-speaking tv shows and movies before, but that was because I followed my siblings and/or parents. This time I chose the shows and movies on my own.
And then I started to interact with people online in English. Albeit rubbish, people understand what I wanted to say, which is a good thing. So I kept on going and going until I was quite good at it, and I actually speak English daily (or rather type in English daily). I would’ve loved a native speaker as a partner, but my current friends are enough for me right now.
(PS: any native volunteers?)
But, of course, the story was completely set up as if I learned all the things on my own. Actually, no. School also plays an important rule, as it ever does. I learned how to pronounce words right (as my siblings would definitely make fun of me if I ask them about it), what’s this tense and what’s that tense, how to make a proper sentence, blah blah.
I always admire how my teachers can make a living through giving us new ways to see this… foreign language and the complexity that it offers us to explore.
If you’ve read it carefully, I am a huge fan of languages. I want to speak dozens of languages. I want to be fluent in them. I believe languages are what will bring us together.
I guess that’s why I don’t click with boys my age. I love languages too much.
(or maybe because their English suck ass.)
Mathematics. Your average student’s archenemy. To be honest, when my mother started to teach me the basic Maths, I loved it. It was fun and I can play with sticks and it was so exciting! And during elementary school, maths was also quite easy. But nearing the last three years, I fell. I’ve no idea why; maybe because I lost focus. Alright, see, I’m someone who lose focus easily. That’s why I sometimes feel like whipping the s**t out of my friends because they’re just obnoxiously loud and I cannot concentrate and Goddammit just shut. up!
But then, I met algebra.
Alright, right now algebra sounds pretty easy. But I swear to god, the rest is yet to come. I’ll brief you with the education system in Indonesia, alright? We have a 12 year system: six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, and three years of senior high school. At the end of every stage, we must face this horrible, horrible thing called Ujian Nasional (English: National Examination). It is held nation-wide. What you get from Ujian Nasional is your pass for the next stage. From elementary school to junior high, you must succeed in maximum 30,00 score. From junior high to senior high, the maximum score is 40,00. Senior high’s maximum score is 60,00, but it is not used as the only pass for university/college.
The system itself is different. In senior high, you get to choose two ‘majors’: Science or Social Studies. We used to have Literature, but in most schools they’re fused with the two ‘majors’. The 60,00 score is different per ‘majors’; as the science students won’t get the same subjects as the social studies students except for Maths, Indonesian, and English.
But anyway, I’m currently a junior high student in her last year. Therefore I will be facing Ujian Nasional soon or later. I joined this course where we’re being prepared for it, and we’re given this book, a jumbled collection of previous Ujian Nasional’s questions. I went past it just fine; some rocky roads, but I think I’m doing well enough.
And then… school starts.
Maths is hell.
At every chapter, the beginnings felt like a piece of cake! They’re quite easy and I get around it quickly. But as further I go, I began to lose my pace. Maybe it’s me being weak in calculation (proven by a psychotest I took a few months ago) or I’m just dumb. I hope it’s the former.
Does anyone have any idea how to improve your calculation skills? Because I really need it, badly, and I guess a tip or two won’t hurt.
~ Dyah Ayu Saraswati