Have you ever spent a long time speaking a different language? Do you feel weird when you speak your native language? In which language do you think the most?
These questions came to my mind while trying to learn a third language. After a long time trying to learn English, starting from zero to learn German has been difficult especially because I’m learning out of English (not Spanish!). I was trying to learn some grammar rules when I realized that my thoughts were in English! I was not thinking in Spanish! It was then that I started to think in Spanish 🙁
After this discovery I also noticed it was a bit weird when I had to speak Spanish with friends or family, sometimes I felt I was speaking too fast or too slow and of course I made them laugh when I said the wrong word or when my tongue was just too clumsy.
Yes, now I am fluent in English! I can write emails and all sorts of documents in this beautiful language! But what happens when I have to change to Spanish all of a sudden? Of course I can do it! I’ve been speaking Spanish every day of my life but sometimes my words don’t make sense… Sometimes words don’t sound right and sentence structure is similar to the English one.
What about my accent?
Well sometimes I’m able to notice it, which didn’t happen when I was at home. Now I can even notice how strong my family’s accent is and all the slang we can use in one small conversation! What’s more, I could really notice that our slang makes no sense at all!
Can we forget our own language?
The answer is easy: NO!
It all depends on the environment you are living in. At home you are always speaking the same language and although you are in touch with some other languages, your life and thoughts are not modified by the language surrounding you on TV, streets, newspapers, etc.
Why does Spanish sound weird to me?
I only speak Spanish a few hours a day, everything else (including surviving in a foreign country) I do in English. My thoughts are in this language as well because at home I’m also speaking it, which makes it easier to write and even dream in a new language.
What about my writing skills?
Well, words sound or look weird because of my new immersion into English and German but they are not bad or extremely modified. Reading something in Spanish or having a long conversation with family makes me feel normal and sure about things I have to write.
A language doesn’t go away! We just have to practice them and update our knowledge 🙂 but if you want to learn a language well you can start by creating thoughts in THAT exact language!
Do you ever think in a different language? Have you forgotten how to speak a language?