When English isn’t your first language

Publised : July 20th, 2021

We learn our native language naturally. We hear it being spoken by our family, our community, in our schools, workplaces, etc. To learn a language, it becomes important that the environment is suitable. Born in a place where English isn’t the primary language, it becomes difficult for us to learn something in an environment where a completely different language is spoken. For people who belong to the parts of the world where English is not the mother tongue of most people, learning English is a challenge on its own. We wish we could escape the pain of learning a whole new international language, but English has become a universal language which has to be learnt if we want to fit in this generation. 

But how do we do it? We have to break the Bilingual Dilemma. There are a few prerequisites when you want to master this language. You have to break from the shackles of your native language and adopt English as your own. Because no matter how hard you try, your knowledge of your mother tongue is not going anywhere. You have been learning it since childhood, probably unconsciously and to learn English is not to replace it with your native language but to add a skill in your pre-existing knowledge of languages. It is important to note that, you don’t learn a language by learning all the rules, vocabulary or grammar, but you learn it by practicing in a conducive environment.

A language can be broadly classified into two aspects- Spoken and Literary. The literature of the language includes how to read and write the language script properly. Spoken includes how to speak the language using correct rules. You can be a master in reading and writing a language and not being able to speak it fluently and vice versa. But what do you think is more important and should be learned first? That totally depends upon you. But talking about English, both of these aspects can be learned simultaneously or separately. 

It’s not that spoken and literary English are separated but to learn spoken English, not all the rules of literary English have to be learned. For example, literature grammar might teach you how and where to use the Oxford Comma but that knowledge is not not important for spoken English. 

It is advisable that when you start learning English, start using it immediately. Maybe you learned a new word today, maybe you learned a phrase, or how to construct a particular sentence, just use it. If you don’t know how to form the rest of the sentences, say them in your mother tongue, but try to incorporate English in your daily life whenever you can. 

Try to connect with people who know English or try to find a buddy who wants to learn English with you. When you have someone doing a task with you, it becomes easier to stay determined. 

Lastly, don’t think much. Just start. Long journey or short, it depends on you. And the day you start is the day you take your first step towards breaking the Bilingual Dilemma!

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