As an annual event for Polyglot Club SG, the Making Your Choice! webinar for Primary 6 students was held again this year, on the 26th of November 2022. We were honoured to have been joined by A/P Rebecca Lurie Starr, from the Department of English, Linguistics and Theatre Studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS), whom we also conducted an interview with.
Before the event, as I was hoping to get some media coverage on the webinar to increase our reach and provide useful information to more juniors, I had emailed a couple of national newspapers in Singapore, such as the Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.
To my delight, a reporter from Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), the largest Singaporean Chinese-language newspaper, contacted me regarding my email, stating that she was interested in my language-learning journey, Polyglot Club SG and our webinar.
After a couple of preliminary interviews, she told me that the addition of a video interview would be preferable to simply having a print article on my story, which then began the story of my second ever experience with appearing on the press (the first was when I was really young, maybe 5 or 6 years old with AsiaOne, but that’s a story for another day).
We arranged the meeting to be on a Monday afternoon, with the print reporter interviewing me for about an hour first before photos were taken for the article, then the video interview being conducted with a separate cameraman and video producer.
I was really nervous before the meeting, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to speak well enough and stumble over my words since I was slightly anxious, but I soon realised that my fears and anxiety would only exacerbate that problem. Furthermore, it was really only the four Zaobao reporters and cameramen that I would be speaking to, since I could pretend that the camera was simply a piece of technology and there was nobody behind it.
During the interview, the reporter spoke with my mother about how we’d started my language learning journey, and asked me for more information about the polyglot club - Polyglot Club SG - that I’d founded.
I actually began learning languages when I was about two years old and my parents sent me for a French playgroup at Alliance Francaise Singapour, somewhere I’d go twice a week to play with my classmates, mostly children of French expats in Singapore. We spoke in French with each other and our teachers, and are still in contact even now! As for Japanese, my kindergarten had a Japanese programme that would hold classes in Japanese once every three weeks.
As I’d shown interest in the languages, I then continued to learn French and Japanese up until today, where I’ve now taken the C2 French examination and N3 Japanese examination. But what really spurred me on to learn languages other than French and Japanese was a chance meeting when I was six.
I had been waiting for my father to pick me up at a bus stop, and a Caucasian lady approached me asking for directions. Upon trying to speak all four languages that I knew (at the time): French, English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, I realised that her mother tongue was none of the above, and we could not communicate properly. It was sort of a wake-up call for me as I’d previously thought it impressive that I knew two more languages than most people my age, but through this, I realised that if I wanted to effectively and efficiently communicate with more people both domestically and internationally, I still had a long way to go.
I also shared a bit about why I founded Polyglot Club SG—I sincerely hoped that more people who love languages can come together to share tips and tricks, and to create a community of language learners to encourage and support each other, right here in Singapore.
Some of the activities that we host would include the annual Making Your Choice! third language webinar, the Nationwide Foreign Language Translation Competition that will be held next year (you can read about it here), and organising international polyglot gatherings on our home turf, Singapore.
This was quickly followed by the photoshoot, my first time doing something of its kind, which included some flattering poses, such as me holding on to my books in various languages (which you can see below, all credits of which going to Lianhe Zaobao, and some not so flattering poses, such as lying down in a pile of books, which I will not post since, well, they’re not-so-flattering.
The video interview that followed covered almost the same things as the print interview, except this time, I got the experience of having a mic! Not the hand-held kind, but the kind you see on variety shows, so I was really excited about that.
Unfortunately, the video interview also meant that I had to sit ramrod straight for the entire duration of filming (three hours), giving me a horrible back ache the next day. It was definitely a unique experience, though, filming multiple cuts repeatedly and having the bright white light shine into my eyes while talking. The link to the video can be found here.
During the video interview, one of the most significant things I shared was my 5-step Surefire Way to Accelerated Language Learning, the infographic of which can be found below. The video’s attached in the same link as above too, so you can watch it if you’re interested!
Overall, I think it was definitely a unique experience, and I’d really like to thank everyone who made it possible - Lianhe Zaobao, my club members, my family, my teachers, and everyone else who has helped me along the way.
You can read the article below (again, all credits go to Lianhe Zaobao)!