Friday, 20 March 2015

The Power of being an English Learner

Hello there!
This week's post is dedicated to those who have the power of giving a second first impression of themselves to the world thanks to being an English learner. Moreover, everything can be extrapolated to any other language you may be learning or considering to learn; maybe this post gives you that extra shot of motivation in order to invest your time and effort in learning a foreign language.

  Many people with whom I talked about this and I think that the best way to learn English or any other language, specially its pronunciation, is by modelling. Therefore, people who speak English trying to sound native do an exercise which can be compared to the one an actor/actress do in order to prepare for a role. Think of what an actor/actress should do to represent somebody who speaks in a particular way. The job would entail observing very closely the profile to imitate. Among other things, he/she should learn about this profile the most outstanding sounds or ways of pronouncing, where to make a pause when speaking and the typical expressions or sayings. Ultimately, make it feel real and believable for the audience.

  All of the above concerning pronunciation is necessary for both actors/actresses and learners of languages to sound natural and believable but it does not stop there. If we want to sound really native or do a good impression we should also mimic, at least, some cultural aspects too. Imagine Leonardo DiCaprio trying to portray a British character. It wouldn't be enough for him to just get rid of the rhoticity of his accent: he may want to "be" more "sorry" than he usually is, go hang out not only with his friends but with his "mates" and "pals" as well, or enjoy a pint (cheers!!)
  Thus, and going back to the learner perspective, becoming a fluent and native-like speaker always unfolds new aspects of our personality. And by 'always' I mean that each time we learn a different language we might find ourselves behaving differently in the same situations, depending on which language we are using or in which culture we are immersed. Maybe you are a shyer person when talking in English and more outgoing when speaking Italian, and so on.
  Then, does it mean that we create different identities for every language we know? In my opinion the answer is yes. We may not behave like a whole different person but we adjust our personality just as Leonardo DiCaprio would do in the example above.
  This gives us the power of deciding how we want to act and present ourselves in this other language: a sort of second chance to give a first impression. If you have a strong accent in your own language it might give you a hard time finding a job. But imagine a job interview in which you speak in a second/foreign language: it might open even more doors for you than speaking in your own language!
Now, just take a moment to wrap your head around all the abilities that a person has to 'perform' to speak a foreign language to a high standard. If you relate to this I hope you feel powerful now that you have taken the time to acknowledge and read about how to take advantage of your knowledge of a foreign language.

So, who do you want to be today?
Don't forget to leave a comment sharing your experience so we can all have a chat!

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