I haven't quite heard it in a while, but I recall hearing this a fair amount in my first year in the UK, when talking to strangers: "You speak really good English!" (the last time I heard this was during the Pennine Way somewhere in the Yorkshire Dales when I was chatting with a shepherd/sheep farmer) A smart-alec answer could be "Thank you, so do you!", but I often just laugh and try and explain the Singapore education system/Singapore.
I would consider myself an English native speaker, but saying that English is my first language makes me more uncomfortable - after all, I technically grew up with both English and Chinese (Mandarin Chinese). My parents speak both languages, and I learnt both languages at the same time. However, the fact that my parents speak and understand English, and that every other subject (apart from Moral Education) is taught in English are obviously what makes me more fluent and confident in English than in Chinese, despite my supposed bilingualism.
Anyhows, I think in English, and speak and write and listen and read English way better than Chinese. My Chinese standard has definitely dropped, especially over the last four years of being here, since the numbers of people speaking it conversationally are fewer. I then picked up Spanish in my second year, thinking it would be very handy and probably easier to learn than French (which I tried to learn at 13 years old but failed miserably). Attended basic Spanish lessons for a year, highly subsidised in Cambridge, then went to Ecuador and Peru for two months. Since then though, I've not really been keeping up Spanish, either with DuoLingo/Memrise consistently, or attending proper lessons (cos Imperial doesn't subsidise language lessons as much and they're wayyy out of my budget).
I've had my laptop settings set to announce the time every hour for a number of years now, because I realised I often get absorbed in my work and lose track of time and end up sleeping too late. Playing around with the settings some time a few weeks ago, I realised I could set it to announce the time in other languages, and I settled for Spanish. My laptop told me that it wouldn't work very well if the rest of the system language was not Spanish, and so I changed my laptop settings to Spanish. That went alright for a week or so, but then I wanted to set up an Imperial VPN so I could easily access academic journals without hassle and gave up on the Spanish.
Subsequently though, my itchy fingers led me back to the language settings, and I thought why not set it to Chinese, which I should be more familiar with than Spanish, and would help me keep up the language. But because I still want to improve my Spanish, I decided to switch my Facebook settings to Spanish. It's been about a week now, and I'm glad to say, I have learnt some new vocabulary, and have not majorly messed up anything.
Did you know that Copy on Safari is 拷贝? I always thought it would just be 抄. Microsoft Word is 文档, Documents is 文稿 and PDF is 便携文稿格式.
On Facebook, the space for you to update your status usually asks "What's on your mind?", but in Spanish, it's "Qué piensas?", Home is inicio, tagged is etiquetó, link is enlace, and profile is perfil. Interestingly, for Facebook in Chinese (just to see what it was like), it just asks you to "分享新鲜事" (Share new things), friends are 用户 (not 朋友!), and like is 赞 (not 喜欢).
So it's fairly fun, definitely learning new words and thinking more in Chinese, shall see how long I can keep this up for.
I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
My interests vary from conservation to education to heritage to Nature (biodiversity & wildlife) to outdoor activities to life in general.
They occupy most of my waking moment.
Do read my blogs, follow me on Twitter (@jocelynesze) and friend me on Facebook (subject to my discretion). Visit my Nature blog, Nature Rambles, at http://natureramble.wordpress.com.
UPDATE 2 Apr 2017 - This site is no longer maintained, please visit jocelynesze.wordpress.com if you're interested in more recent writing.