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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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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.

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.

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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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 the most frequently used words (or words themed for a subject you are more likely to talk about)

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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.

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Research shows that children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly ten years later than earlier estimates. It also shows that it is best to start another language by age ten if you want to achieve the grammatical ability of a native speaker.

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