Friday, May 14, 2010

Another language shift

I've recently moved city and so my routine has been thrown out of whack. With all the fluster of a new job, new house and no TV I haven't had a chance to watch French TV at all for a while. I finally bought a new TV (which was promptly stolen as my house got burgled, so no TV again), but what did hit me when I turned it on to watch the French news on SBS (our multicultural broadcaster) was that I really needed to pay attention to what was being said to understand it, whereas before I'd just keep half an ear open.

This is the first time I've ever struggled to understand anything in French in my entire life which hit me quite hard. It's nearly 20 years since I spoke French on a daily basis and a few years since the last of my francophone friends left Australia, so it was inevitable that the language would slip. The feeling was similar to when I came back to Australia after living in Japan as a kid, it took me several weeks before I stopped being overwhelmed by all the English coming at me and struggling to put a coherent, grammatically correct sentence together.

So I guess that I need to make an effort to socialise in French again so as to stop the rot, as well as start thinking about my Japanese usage which will soon take a similar turn. It's a reminder that language, even if it's a native one, needs to be used or lost.


  1. Dear TongueTwister,
    I found your blog following your recent post on Tamara's blog about bilingualism where you mentioned that you are "the product of a non-native speaker and have friends who are natively bilingual or trilingual from non-native environments".
    I am very interested in cases like this and in fact writing a paper on non-native bilingualism, so I wanted to ask you if you would be willing to participate in my research (includes filling out quite a large questionnaire) or if you could help me connect to some people who raise their children bilingual in a non-native language. If you are interested, please contact me at
    Best regards,

  2. Hi! Like Irina above, I followed you here from Tamara's blog. I'm hosting the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism on July 1 and would love to link to one of your posts. In fact, perhaps I could ask you to post about your language history and background, about being the "product of a non-native speaker"?

    The deadline to submit your link is June 29. Interested? Read more here:

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