Final week of Spanish English month starts with a guest post from Seville by blogger Nina Lauder, freelance author, teacher trainer and educational consultant.
Needless to say, after over twenty years away from a native English speaking environment, I can definitely say that I suffer from a Language Identity Crisis.
This ‘crisis’ is apparent on a number of levels. First off, when I speak Spanish, there’s no doubt in the world that I’m not from Spain or any other Spanish speaking country. My Andalusian Spanish is spoken with a heavy Canadian accent…an interesting combination to say the least! By the same token, when I ‘call home’ to talk to my family I’m told that I use Spanish intonation, throw in Spanish exclamations, and that I ‘sound like a foreigner speaking English’. Arrrgggh. Where does this leave me?
In classroom settings, I normally teach ‘British English’. This again, can sometimes pose problems. It’s not that the two languages are THAT different but I still have to think twice when I teach ‘at weekends’, ‘in Smith Street’ or being ‘knackered’.
My Language Identity Crisis is also crystal clear when I mix up Spanish words with English ones. A few years ago I told my dad that purchasing my flat in Seville was a great ‘inversion’ and had no idea why he didn’t understand me. I also asked my university about how to ‘convalidate’ my studies (duh! Not a good sign when an English Lit major invents words!). The list goes on and on.
Due to all this language mix-up, nowadays quite often people can’t peg where I’m from when they first meet me. Some think I’m Irish, others American, and others congratulate me on my ‘excellent English’ thinking that I’m a native Spanish speaker – help!
Even my non-verbal communication has been affected. I use Spanish gestures which are obvious here but which puzzle my family and co-workers in the UK.
Actually, if truth be told, I really enjoy knowing languages well enough to be able to suffer from a Language Identity Crisis. If I were monolingual, I’d never be able to speak Spanglish, code-switch, or have the opportunity to make a fool of myself at any given moment.
So, congratulations to all of you out there with a Language Identity Crisis and good luck making the most of those everyday mix-ups! 🙂Email this Post