Show 942 Monday 19 January
Watch today’s show at YouTube or BlipTV.
Hi, I’m Sarah, welcome to The Daily English Show.
Today's guest is Simona. She’s now studying at a university in Japan and I met her last week when she was visiting Niseko. It was so interesting talking to her. She’s half-Lithuanian and half-Ugandan and she speaks many languages. She said that her family home is now in Uganda, but she spent the first half of her life in Lithuania. I asked her where she was born.
Well, I was born in Lithuania, which was at the time part of the Soviet Union. And my dad happens to be a medical doctor, so at the time I think he was trying to complete his PhD research. So we ended up doing quite a bit of travel around the Soviet Union. So, I was born in Lithuania, but I remember living in Byelorussia, Russia and Ukraine, before moving to Africa.
Kia Ora in Stick News today the Taiwanese government has given people shopping vouchers to stimulate the economy.
Around 23 million people live in Taiwan. The government has just given them all a present: 3600 dollars worth of shopping vouchers.
CNN reported the gift is a combination of a new year’s present and an economic stimulus package.
And that was Stick News for Monday the 19th of January.
conversations with sarah
#588 How did you learn English?
with Simona Muwazi
Step 1: Repeat Sarah’s lines.
Step 2: Read Sarah’s lines and talk to Simona.
Sarah Was your first language Lithuanian?
Simona Um, I have to say it was Lithuanian and Russian, pretty much at the same time because … well, it’s funny really, I have a few recordings of when I was a child, my first sentences and they were half Russian, half Lithuanian, with really funny grammar in the process, but … it was half and half.
Sarah Are those languages very different?
Simona Um, grammatically, there is some similarity but when it comes to the way you write it or the way you pronounce it, yeah, pretty much … well, as similar as Japanese and English would be.
Sarah What was your first impression of Africa? Did you get culture shock?
Simona Well, I don’t really remember having gotten that much culture shock but maybe that’s because I wasn’t that old, because children tend to adapt easier. I was maybe 12, 13 years old when we moved. The one thing I do remember is taking about maybe one or two months to learn English. Because Uganda is officially an English and Swahili speaking country and the time I went there I didn’t speak either language. I just had, well, Russian and Lithuanian with me. So it took me a couple of months to get the hang of things. But then when I did I think I found it pretty OK. Different, but OK.
Sarah How did you learn English?
Simona Um, when I arrived in Uganda it happened to be the school holidays and for the first month or so, I lived with my cousins because it took us some time to find a decent apartment, and you know, a place to live and to settle down. So I just spent all my time playing with them and other kids and kind of picked it up along the way.
Sarah Did you finish high school in Uganda?
Simona Yeah, I did my high school in Uganda and then when I finished that I went ahead to do my bachelors degree in computer science. So I did one half in Uganda, but I completed the last half in Australia - in this tiny little town called Lismore.
Sarah Why did you choose Australia?
Simona Um, I don’t know, at the time it seemed like a really interesting option because I’d been to the UK before and I’d never really had, well, any serious interest in going to the States, but Australia sounded like loads of fun so, well, being the kid that I was, I was like, yes, let’s go, you know, new place, new people, want to check it out.
Sarah What are you doing in Japan?
Simona Well, I’m doing my masters degree in Japan, so basically after I came back from Australia, I spent maybe a year and a half or so working. And then decided to apply to the Japanese embassy to see if I could get a scholarship and, yeah, I guess I got lucky and got one so then I came here.
Sarah Why were you interested in Japan?
Simona Well, again the same thing, when I applied for scholarships, it wasn’t just to Japan. There was one more to the UK and one more to the States. And I ended up choosing this one because it was like, OK, the UK and the States, they both speak English, I can do that too. Um, well it’s a pretty much similar culture, it’s people I can understand, things I can relate to. So that’s not really too interesting. And with Japan, I had no idea what to expect of this place. Because from the few little things I’d heard it was like, wow, this is so different. So I came here primarily to see if I could figure out, like, this whole new culture, language and everything. But also to see if I could make some new friends, meet some new people, get to do some things I hadn’t done before.
Sarah Did you study Japanese before you came?
Simona Um, I didn’t speak any Japanese at all before coming to Japan. And my masters program is two years, but I got an extra, roughly eight months, so I could do the language. So when I first came to Japan, which was April 2007, I think, um, I had to do the eight months of Japanese, intensive Japanese training every day, because my master’s program itself is in, in Japanese, I don’t do any of my classes in English.
Sarah How's it going? Is it difficult?
Simona Well, of course it still is difficult, I mean, I’m really grateful for the fact that we did get to do the intensive course, because without that it would have been nearly impossible. But even so, sometimes, when I listen to people speak, usually I can understand, you know, 80, 90 percent of what they say. But when I look at a set of kanji on, you know, somebody’s PowerPoint presentation or something like that, then it gets quite a lot harder, because these are technical kanji not like the everyday use, you know, 2000 kanji that you learn in class. So, sometimes I have to resort to using a dictionary. Sometimes, after the class, I have to talk to the professor, and ask him, you know, for some translation to English, or something like that. But it’s bearable. Not easy, but bearable I’d say.
Sarah Do you also speak Swahili?
Simona Yeah, I guess I do speak Swahili as well, because Swahili is the national language of about three countries. That’s all of East Africa – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Except that Tanzania speaks Swahili only, whereas Kenya and Uganda speak both Swahili and English at the same time. So when we go to school, at least in Uganda and Kenya, we learn English and then at some point we do some of our studies in Swahili too. So we try to, kind of, strike a balance.
Sarah When people meet in the street in Uganda what language do they speak?
Simona Oh my, a multitude of things. Because officially we have English and Swahili, but when we look at the number of different ethnic groups in Uganda, I think it would total to over 50. And each group has its own, well, language culture, traditions, everything. So, when people know each other, when it’s the same grouping, they speak their own language. If it’s people of different groupings, usually, on the streets, you know, in the markets, Swahili. English is rare unless someone is talking to a foreigner.
Sarah English is just for foreigners?
Simona Well, no, we use English in our workplaces, so … English is also used in the government, every time there’s some announcement, or, you know, some documents to be printed or whatever … because that was the country’s first official language. Swahili comes second. But African people, of course, find Swahili more natural than, than they find English. So usually they just reserve English for those situations where it can’t be avoided. So between friends, among family with people that you’re sure are not, you know, from Europe somewhere, so you know they’ll understand, usually it’s Swahili.
Sarah What's your plan after you finish your studies?
Simona Well, I don’t know, I’m not really sure it’s … my fiancé is Finish, so at the moment we’re, sort of, trying to figure out, like: Are we going to Finland? Are we going to Uganda? Are we going to Lithuania which is, well, where I was born and, and spent some of my, my earlier years in? Or are we staying in Japan for a while? Like we’re just, you know, still bumming around and trying to figure everything out. But I think if I have my way, might want to stay in Japan for, like, an extra two, three years.
today's STICK NEWS pictures
artist: Boom Tschak
album: Indietronic CCBit.
track: More Chocolate, Please
from: Former Yugoslavia
artist: Wolfgang S.
album: Indietronic CCBit.
from: Belgrade, Serbia, Former Yugoslavia
from: Saint Raphael, France
album at Jamendo
artist at Jamendo
artist: Kevin MacLeod
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