22:57

Being bi-lingual is such a blessing. From birth I have had two languages: Cantonese and English.

Living in the UK has allowed me to learn English all throughout play-school, primary school, middle school, and high school. I grew up speaking English to my friends and Cantonese to my older relatives. My parents speak fluent English and Cantonese thus I am able to converse in both languages to them.

While I learnt Cantonese from young, this was mostly at a speak-only level. I heard phrases and picked them up, and also learned to understand and speak it myself. The short period of time that I did attend Cantonese classes, I found it difficult to memorise the characters. Reading it was a nightmare, and writing it was basically all copy work. Where I blossomed in my English classes; I fell short in my Cantonese ones.

In present day I get by speaking my little and broken Cantonese to my relatives, and I can understand more than people give me credit for. Recently I have been trying to converse with my aunt more in Cantonese as she speaks it 98% of the time. I take my time thinking through each sentence in my head so my pronunciation and tone comes out correctly.

While English is my main language I am always thankful to have this mother tongue. Sometimes Cantonese phrases will slip out in English conversations with my friends and I apologise because they do not understand. Now I may think twice about apologising, for this language is a part of who I am.

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