It’s tricky to speak a non-native language most of the time, especially when you learned it after 20 years old. Then, language doesn’t come naturally and you really have to work on that. Of course, since childhood many of us (including myself) studied English at school. I also knew some, but I couldn’t speak, or understand, or communicate. And, the truth is there wasn’t anyone around to communicate in English with. I mostly started to learn and communicate in English when I started to work for the US Peace Corps. I usually speak very quickly. My parents always told me I have to marry a foreigner. They hoped in that case, I would speak less and slower because of the language barrier, and it would lead to a happier marriage. Well, the funniest part is that I still continued to speak very quickly in my broken English. I am not a perfectionist. Perfectionists think very long time before to put a correct sentence together, which is probably why I started to use language quickly without worry too much of mistakes, and you can only imagine how many of them I did day after day. I don’t remember all of them, of course, but I remember the most embarrassing mistakes and misspellings. I was a self-learner, and I learned from environment simply though talking and being around native speakers. Spelling was a disaster because I could possible say something, but I also had to write it. Once I wrote a job related e-mail starting with: Dear John, Thank you for your massage! Etc…Then John wrote me back: “Yulia, I wish to say you are welcome, but as far as I remember, I didn’t do a massage for you, but I wish I would though”…That was embarrassing, but funny anyway.
Several years later, my language improved, but my mistakes became trickier for English speakers. It’s one question to recognize from the first word that person in front of you can’t speak language, and another thing that when you have a normal conversation but somehow misused words. I’ll share with you an example (also an embarrassing one) next week when I reach my computer. Happy Thanksgiving! (to be continued after Thanksgiving holidays)