Native language use while living abroad

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Orange Belt
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Native language use while living abroad

Postby Theodisce » Wed Mar 16, 2016 4:56 pm

I spent most of my life living in my country of origin. While studying and working there, I used to devote about 30-40 hours a week to language learning, mostly by input and sometimes by active use. However, now I'm living abroad. My foreign language input and output equals roughly to 35-45 hours a week. Much of this is done at the work place, but not all. I still enjoy languages outside the work context. However, I feel a much greater need to listen and read materials in my own language now than I used to while living in my home country.

Now the question to those of you who have experience of living abroad more than few months: do you share this experience or maybe it's just me?
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Blue Belt
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Re: Native language use while living abroad

Postby Ogrim » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:12 pm

I've spent more than 20 years living outside of my country of origin, and I hardly ever speak my native language except when I am there on vacation. At work I use English and French, at home we speak Spanish. In addition I dabble in quite a few other langauges. I am perfectly happy with this, but I can tell you that sometimes I feel an urgent need to read a book, listen to the radio or watch a TV show in Norwegian. Somehow it is like I give my brain a vacation :) . It is difficult to explain, but even compared to English, which I have been using at work every day for over 20 years, doing something in my native tongue probably triggers some different neurological processes in the brain. So I can totally understand that you feel that need to use your own language when living in another language environment.

Just to add: I don't see any decline in my ability to use my native tongue after 20 years, but I do notice that I probably speak a somewhat old-fashioned Norwegian compared to my younger compatriots. From time to time I discover words and expressions which have been integrated into the language during these years, and which I would never use.

And finally, when it comes to professional terminology, I feel much more comfortable giving a presentation about my job in English or French than in Norwegian. i sometimes discover I lack the Norwegian words for certain concepts.
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Brun Ugle
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Re: Native language use while living abroad

Postby Brun Ugle » Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:15 pm

It's hard to say. I've lived in Norway for 16 years, but my native language is English and that's kind of hard to get away from even if you wanted to. I mean English is all over, at least here in Norway, and especially on the Internet I find it hard to get away from. However, I think my English has suffered a bit because I mostly use it online and for watching TV. I am starting to feel the need to do something a little more intellectual before my English deteriorates even more, so I'm thinking of doing more reading.

I don't know how I would feel about being away from my native country if my language were less common. I'm never homesick, but maybe I would be if I didn't have any contact with my native language.
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