I’ve been wondering about foreign languages and how speaking them impacts your native language. For now, if you have a minute, I would love if you could answer this survey:
- What is your native language?
- Which foreign languages do you speak? How well do you speak them?
- How did you learn your foreign languages?
- How often do you use your foreign language skills today?
Here are my answers:
- English is my only native language.
- I speak French, Italian and very bad Spanish. Last time I was tested in French, I was rated “advanced high” by my professor. Nowadays, I speak Italian conversationally at best, though I’m best in restaurants. My Spanish is terrible and pretty much restricted to reading only. Also, after receiving a Brazilian assignment at work last year, I learned that I can read Portuguese.
- Though my dad’s family is proudly French Canadian, I learned French from studying it in high school and college. I also did a two-week homestay in Normandy in high school and I’ve been to France several times. I didn’t speak a word of Italian when I arrived in Florence for my semester abroad, but I learned quite a bit after four months there. I taught myself Spanish I over a summer and took one year of Spanish II in high school.
- At work, I’m the designated French speaker, so I get to speak French pretty often. I use Italian at work occasionally, and Spanish rarely. Besides conversing in basic Spanish with the guys at Anna’s Taqueria, I don’t use any of my languages outside of work (though my sister and I speak quite a bit of “franglais” to each other).
I’m glad that the state of Massachusetts and areas throughout the U.S. place such a high emphasis on foreign languages, even though English is the language of business these days. It can make a big difference when it comes to your grammar.
Learning a foreign language strengthens one’s knowledge of his or her native language. Suddenly, words are organized. Everything is a reason. Am, is and are mean the same thing — and boy, is our language confusing!
I’ve always loved books and writing, but my love of language didn’t come along until later. I think it was the act of learning foreign languages and falling in love with them that taught me to love language itself.
Do you agree?