Languages As An Extended Self

Are we different people in different languages? I’ve pondered this quite a lot myself. My first language is Swedish, and English is my second language. I also understand Finnish pretty well, but I’m far from fluent when it comes to speaking or writing it.

English is more of a tool to communicate ideas rather than expressing emotions, although I sometimes dabble in writing poetry in English too. (Poetry is highly emotional to me.) To some extent, I feel like a different person depending on what language I use.

I don’t consider that to be a bad thing at all since I often come up with new ways of thinking when I use several languages simultaneously. Being able to write and speak in more than one language is a huge advantage because you get to know more than one culture, more than one way of viewing the world and all that’s in it.

I’m not saying one language is better than the other either. All words differ and have different uses. What bothers me is that I don’t have the same set of tools in both languages. I lack knowledge of certain words, mainly technical mambo jumbo, and specific words that come naturally to me in Swedish.

So, what then is the best way to learn a language? If you’re not able to live in a country that uses the tongue, a suitable alternative is to read extensively in the new language. Read, read, and read more! Also write as much as you can; learn to express yourself in the original language, find your inner voice so to speak. Speak out loud! Speak as often as you can, if not eye to eye than finding someone online that you can Skype with. Binge-watch movies produced in countries that use the language you’re trying to learn. Change the default language on your cell phone and computer. Using the new words in your daily life is crucial if you wish to master it!

Leave a Reply