Many times we can assume that someone learning a foreign language is looking to add a language to their skill set. In some cases, this just isn’t the reality. Many people reach a point in life where they realize the deficiencies in their native language skills and want to get better.
Allow me to explain.
For many people who grow up in a first language home that is different from the culture around them, they reach a point where the everyday language they have learned in the family is not enough. They are able to converse freely but when it comes to complex language situations (like reading and writing) they are nowhere close to a native speaker.
Imagine that you have grown up in a home of Spanish speaking parents and yet you live in America. You have spent most of your life in this two-language reality. You go to school and learn English and yet you come home and speak Spanish. In high school you decide to take Spanish class as an easy way to get an A and move on with life.
You may do okay with the first couple of levels. And then reality hits you. You begin to realize that your set of Spanish speaking skills does not include business language, technical language, religious language, etc. And, what’s more, you’ve only been speaking your language. Your reading and writing skills are at the same level as your non-Spanish speaking peers.
When this happens to a native language speaker at any stage of life, it can be difficult to accept. It is hard to come to the realization that you really don’t know your family’s native tongue as well as you thought. If this happens to you then know that you are not alone.
Language learning involves an incredibly complex set of connections within our brains. Much like sponges, we tend to soak up the familiar and stick with what we know. Since the main goal of language is communication, it makes sense that once you feel comfortable communicating to friends and family, you didn’t go much deeper.
Oftentimes this is simply a clash of common language versus academic language. If you can talk with your grandmother about life and love but tend to fail school foreign language exams in the same language, you are NOT a failure at all! You have allowed language to do what it does best: communicate to real people.
If, however, you are in need of additional language skills then don’t feel ashamed. No matter what our native language, we are constantly learning and growing in usage, vocabulary, and maturity. You never reach the point in life where you are “done” learning a language.
The good news is that you already have a solid foundation for continued language education. Oftentimes you just need to take the first step. Contact us here at Live Lingua and get the conversation started. Your language tutoring will take on a different tone than someone starting at ground zero. We will be respectful of what you do know and help you fill in the gaps.
Image courtesy of Freakonomics.com