Even though I’m doing quite well in terms of language comprehension, I’m not doing so well in terms of language production. Part of this is because I came here with a group of foreigners. People expect me not to understand Indonesian, let alone Javanese. On bad days, this annoys me. On good days, I shrug and go with it. I suspect that even most of my Jogja friends don’t know how much I actually understand, simply because there’s a big gap between what I can understand and what I can say.
Expectations alone don’t account for my poor speaking performance, however. A lot of it simply has to do with the fact that I’m not comfortable on campus yet. And if I’m not comfortable that means I’m nervous. And if I’m nervous that means that my accent gets even heavier and that I’m going to spend a lot of time tripping over my words. This then leads people to think I don’t understand as much as I do, which in turn only makes me even more on edge.
Luckily, some people are starting to catch on. I caught one of my classmates telling another that I’m fluent. One of my teachers told the whole class that I’m smart and it will be easy for me to pick up Javanese (I wish). A few other teachers have stopped trying to speak English and will just request that I translate for any of the other Darmasiswa people in the class.
So, overall, language isn’t going great, but it’s going.