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chocowrites
08-10-2013, 12:56 AM
Hi,

I'll be spending the fall semester (and possibly the spring) abroad with a strict language pledge. So I won't be speaking English at all, and all day I'll be studying/speaking a foreign language.

I saw a blog post from someone in the same program saying his English had deteriorated after only a semester of that. Which kind of worries me, because of writing. So I'm wondering: if you're a native English speaker, and have lived in a non-English speaking country for a while, have you noticed any decline in your English abilities?

Have you found a way to prevent this (i.e. reading english books + writing in english for a certain amount of time per week?)

Basically, if you're concentrating on learning or speaking a foreign language but creative writing (in English) is still very important to you, how compatible have you found the two?

Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

Fran
08-10-2013, 02:39 AM
I think it might depend on your age, but English is so ingrained in me now I can't imagine it deteriorating no matter where I lived. A friend of mine lived in Germany until he was five and German was his first language, but he no longer speaks a word of it after living in the UK for 25 years. My Norwegian friend moved to the UK when she was 15 or 16 and still speaks Norwegian perfectly after 15 years away.

I wouldn't worry too much. Unless you're going some place where English-speaking media is heavily restricted you'll always have access to the English language if you think you need it. Have an amazing time. You've got a great opportunity. :)

PandaMan
08-10-2013, 04:08 AM
I've spent periods of time abroad not speaking English and had no problem coming back home speaking or writing English. Actually, learning a foreign language has helped me understand English better. I was in my late 20's/early 30's back then, so that might have had something to do with it. A much younger person (say, younger than 10) may have a different experience though.

SaraP
08-13-2013, 01:52 AM
Having been born and raised in Portugal, one of my uncles married a French lady and has lived in France since his college years, I would guess about 40 years or so. He did not speak Portuguese at home because his wife didn't speak it. When he came to visit us, a few years ago, his Portuguese was really bad. He kept adding in French words in his sentences, his speaking had a French cadence and rhythm to it, and there were many words he had forgotten. He said it got better after a few days in the country, but the "damage" was still there.

It really depends on how little exposure you get to your mother tongue. I think, given the pervasiveness of the English language, that it won't be all that bad.

And I agree, learning a new language is an awesome experience. Good luck and let us know how it's working out, when you can!

Snitchcat
08-17-2013, 03:26 AM
After having lived abroad for a long time now, I can say you might notice you seem to have forgotten a few English terms, but they'll mostly be ones you don't often use. However, you retain the vocabulary. And you can increase it just by learning another language. Oh, and your native tongue accent may become more pronounced.

Have fun!

Creative Cowboy
08-31-2013, 03:30 PM
Hi,

I'll be spending the fall semester (and possibly the spring) abroad with a strict language pledge. So I won't be speaking English at all, and all day I'll be studying/speaking a foreign language.

I saw a blog post from someone in the same program saying his English had deteriorated after only a semester of that. Which kind of worries me, because of writing. So I'm wondering: if you're a native English speaker, and have lived in a non-English speaking country for a while, have you noticed any decline in your English abilities?

Have you found a way to prevent this (i.e. reading english books + writing in english for a certain amount of time per week?)

Basically, if you're concentrating on learning or speaking a foreign language but creative writing (in English) is still very important to you, how compatible have you found the two?

Thanks for sharing your experiences :)

I had an advanced level of vocabulary as a boy and a superb command of English in later life. This was a fact I had tested a year before coming to Poland. I was 34 then, and I was confident enough to talk my way into English conversation jobs. I didn''t last because I was too advanced for most of the students.

And for most of the locals. I stayed 12 years.

Today I struggle with basics and I am surrounded by intermediate speakers at best. I noticed this about 3 years ago when I was corrected in my speech by a Dutch fellow - not only in grammar but in vocabulary. It was a awake up call.

I have since returned to my love of writing stories. My struggle is appearant every day. It hurts my word count because I labour on vocabulary and grammar. This before any revisions.

There is also something else to consider. People think in different patterns in different cultures. This affects forms of verbal communications. I am surrounded in Poland by passive speakers. Their language works that way. They import it into their English speech and export it to my ears. There are other examples but you get the drift. I listen to English radio, read English, watch English language news and DVDs every day but that is not the same as interacting with the language. This sort of makes me as passive as the locals surrounding me if you know what I mean.

But a couple of months? Whatever you lose should be recouped within a year of your return. Get a good dictionary.

I recommend reading Chambers 21st Century Dictionary (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0550101853/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0550101853&linkCode=as2&tag=crowcommun-20) but even that is of limited use unless you are actively using the language at least by writing regularly. The rule is to use a word three consecutive times until it sticks and becomes yours.

sophiab
10-07-2013, 08:57 PM
I live abroad and when I was speaking primarily Italian, I noticed I started making mistakes Italians do when they speak English. That was enough to freak me out and I started speaking more English again. It does affect you to some degree, but it doesn't hold you back. If you recognize that you're doing it, you can correct it and move on.