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Some News from Indonesia

Our vacation is almost over. It's actually more work than days-off for me as  I was jumping here and there to take care of the book launching. since day 1.

Below is one of the news about the launching and the book, in English, published by the Jakarta Globe.

August 10, 2009

Katrin Figge, Jakarta Globe

A Guidebook For Raising Multilingual Children

As mixed marriages become more common and an increasing number of Indonesians choose to live abroad, there are more parents having to decide which language to speak to their children. The issue of communicating in more than one language is addressed in a new book, “Anak-Anak Multibahasa” (“Multilingual Children”), which was launched on Sunday at Gramedia bookstore in Grand Indonesia. It tells the story of nine Indonesian mothers who have lived abroad and raised multilingual children.

The book was compiled and edited by Santi Dharmaputra, from Indonesia, who has two children with her French husband and lives in Munich, Germany.

“When we were expecting our first child, my husband and I wondered which language we should raise our children to speak,” Santi said. “I communicate in English with my husband, and even though we are both fluent in English it is not our mother tongue.”

They couple chose to revert to their respective mother tongues, Indonesian for her, and French for him, when speaking to their children.

“My son now speaks four languages, Indonesian, French, German and English, but German and English he learned at school and from his surroundings. At home, we only speak Indonesian and French.”

As proof of their success, Santi played two short videos during the book launch. One shows Santi’s 7-year-old son, Joseph, who can speak Indonesian with his mother and then instantly translate what he said into French, so that his father can understand.

The other video shows Nadia, a 7-year-old girl, whose parents are currently based in Thailand. She speaks Indonesian, English, Thai and Arabic, and is able to switch from one language to another in seconds.

“In order to raise the children to be multilingual, the parents have to have strong personalities, too,” Santi said. “In a sense they are positioning themselves as global citizens but still letting their children know where they actually come from.”

However, according to Santi, Indonesian parents who live abroad tend to push their children to master a foreign language instead of Indonesian, which means there are less children able to communicate in their mother tongue. “They want their children to adapt faster to their new surroundings,” she said.

Santi also sees common misconceptions about learning Indonesian.

“Many people say that Indonesian is a very simple and easy-to-learn language,” she said. “I hear that all the time. And while that might be true, it sometimes leads to the wrong conclusion, that Indonesian as a language is not as important as others — which is why many Indonesians don’t think highly of their own language.”

The nine women who contributed to this book have all raised multilingual children to speak Indonesian, while also mastering other languages.

There is a chapter devoted to the story of each family, another chapter on why it is important for children to grow up speaking their mother tongue and two final chapters with tips and suggestions on how to raise multilingual children.

Anak-Anak Multibahasa
Aku Cinta Indonesia Publishing
222 pages

Link to the orginal article is here

Will share more about the launching, it's media coverage, and beautiful places we visit (Bali and Bangka) once we're back in Germany.



( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
Great article
Good job Santi et al. I especially like what you said about parents have to have strong personality in raising multilingual children. True. Cecil.
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Great article
Thanks, Cil!!
Aug. 11th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC)
That's awesome Santi! Your blog has definitely given me food for thought.

While I don't have children (yet!) my husband and I have discussed which languages we'd raised them up in. I'm Indonesian that's lived in Australia for 24 years and he is Chinese-Malaysian that's lived in Australia for 22 years. While his Cantonese is fluent and his Mandarin is improving every day, my Indonesian is not so great anymore. I can understand fine except for "bahasa gaul" and when speaking to my own parents I'd normally start off in Indonesian and finish off in English. I hope to raise multilingual kids also as I think it's a great skill to have. Besides, it would be great for them to be able to converse with their grandparents in their mother tongue(s).
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
Hey, your story would be very interesting. What language do you consider as your mother tongue??
Aug. 11th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
congrats! i was wondering how you and your gang were doing!
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
Hey, I miss reading your adventure in Europe! Hope to do blogwalking again soon.
Aug. 11th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
This is great! It's important for people to know the language that their people are from. Otherwise they are somewhat lost and their culture will just be commercialism.

I wish I knew more Germa when I was growing up. My grandpa spoke five languages but we didn't learn much of his German since it wasn't necessary in Canada. It would have been considered a bit esoteric to study it but now it would have been very handy.
Your kids will be appreciative of this when they are older. Even if they might complain at times now.
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Language can be learned at any stage of life :D so go for it if you're into learning German!!
Aug. 12th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
Cool ! :)
San, kalo gua mau beli bukunya, di Gramedia ada ya ? Sayang ga bakal sempet ditanda tangan sama elo :)
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:07 pm (UTC)
Yg pasti di Gramedia Grand Ind udah ada heheh... di gramedia2 yg lainnya harusnya juga udah didistrubusiin siih, Cin.
Aug. 12th, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
wow, wonderful news. sharing your experience made me feel less nervous when it comes to dating - because I can rest assured in the fact that my children (whatever language the man I marry may speak) can still speak with their mom's side of the family! I believe this factor is important when it comes to learning from other people's wisdom and life experiences.

btw, any chance of sending me a copy...?
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
Mukuge, unfortunately at this time I cannot send out any book as the demand from my fellow Indonesians in Munich is already high (and I just managed to bring around 40 from the planned 100 books). You can still call this number +062 (0)852 2100 5337 to arrange the s/h to where you live.
Aug. 13th, 2009 07:40 am (UTC)
Blogging Carnival on BILINGUALISM

I'm also raising my child bilingual and I'm writing to ask whether you would like to join a blogging carnival on Bilingualism. You'll find more info here:

hope to talk to you soon,

Aug. 18th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: Blogging Carnival on BILINGUALISM
Hi, will check your blog as soon as I can.
Aug. 13th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
This account of the launch is proof of it: yours obviously is a very relevant and worthwhile book.

I'm looking forward to buy it as a present for my daughters in law and even more to the English edition in order to understand it myself.

PS: Really hope you did/do enjoy your holidays.
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
Re: terrific
Hi colson! I miss reading your blog!! I hope I can visit Holland once more this year and really2 wish to finally meet you and the pelopor gank!!
Aug. 14th, 2009 12:29 am (UTC)
metro tv
hi santi. i saw you on metro tv a minute a go ;). asiiiik deh san, jadi tau kamu. selamat ya atas terbitnya bukumu. ke gramed aaaah :D
Aug. 18th, 2009 02:12 pm (UTC)
Re: metro tv
Ami!! Makasih banyak!!
Aug. 18th, 2009 11:16 pm (UTC)
I guess it's English now. I heard somewhere that when you start to dream in a particular language, that language becomes your mother tongue. I dream in English.
Aug. 18th, 2009 11:17 pm (UTC)
I do speak Indonesian (with an accent) but in no way that means I sound like Cinta Laura (or whatever her name is!!). Hehehehe!
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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