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Can you lose your native language?

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180606-can-you-lose-your-native-language

bbc.com

Can you lose your native language?
I'm sitting in my kitchen in London, trying to figure out a text message from my brother. He lives in our home country of Germany. We speak German to each other, a language that's rich in quirky words, but I've never heard this one before: fremdschämen. 'Stranger-ashamed'?

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Forgetting the First Language

Forgetting the First Language

While our brains are flexible and adaptable as children, we tend to start having more rigid learning and relearning skills as we grow old.

There have been some extreme cases when the mother tongue or the first language is completely forgotten in adults.

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Trauma associated with a Language

Trauma associated with a Language

One of the reasons for forgetting a language is the trauma associated with speaking a particular language: The mind recalls the bad experiences while the language is heard or spoken.

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The Switch Mechanism

The Switch Mechanism

Once a person is able to speak two or more languages, the mind has to create a mechanism to switch between those seamlessly.

Switching a language is not like forgetting, but if there is too much back and forth, the competition starts between the two languages.

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Language as Identity

Language as Identity

Our mother tongue is tied to our deeper identity, roots, and memories.

Native language attrition (the process of losing a native, or first, language) is natural and reversible, as whatever allows us to learn languages also accommodates for making changes.

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Learning a new language: knowing the most used words

Learning a new language: knowing the most used words

In English, just 300 words make up 65% of all written material. We use those words a lot, and that’s the case in every other language as well.

Use flash cards of t...

Learning cognates

Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

For instance:

  • Words like Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation. Change that -tion to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.
  • Many languages also have words that share a common (Greek/Latin or other) root.
  • Even languages as different as Japanese can have heaps of very familiar vocabulary.

Interact in your new language daily

  • To hear the language consistently spoken, you can check out TuneIn.com for a vast selection of live-streamed radio from your country of choice.
  • To watch the language consistently, see what’s trending on Youtube in that country right now.
  • To read the language consistently, you can find cool blogs and other popular sites on Alexa’s ranking of top sites per country.

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Know your motivation

If you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.

Once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.

Find a partner

Finding some kind of partner on your language adventure will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay with it.

It’s a really great way of actually going about it. You have someone with whom you can speak, and that’s the idea behind learning a new language.

Talk to yourself

When you have no one else to speak to, there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself in a foreign language.

This can keep new words and phrases fresh in your mind. It also helps build up your confidence for the next time you speak with someone.

Learning By Immersion

Immersion is more effective and faster for learning a language than sitting in a class.

However, most people make some key mistakes when trying to learn a ...

Creating a Native Language Bubble

When you land in a country, you usually don't feel confident speaking, so you might decide to start in your native language until you get your bearings.

But you might meet peers and other people speaking in your native language, and if this bubble sticks, you can end up living in a country for decades without ever learning the local language.

Mastering Basic Phrases at Home First

To learn the basics, find a tool that fulfils the two basic requirements for memorizing: repetition and recall.

  • You need to practice saying something more than once to master it, and then it is best to space those times out over days or weeks.
  • Recalling phrases is less common, but it is vital. Find phrases, and practice saying it correctly.

Starting phrases include:

  • I would like...?
  • Where is ...?
  • How do you say ...?
  • What is that?
  • What is your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do for work?