This language

I took the IELTS almost a month ago. Although they said they’d send my results within 13 days, I still haven’t received anything.  I emailed them and they haven’t replied.  I have been procrastinating calling them, mainly because I really hate the phone.  I am waiting.

During the application process, I got asked where I studied English and for how long.  I answered something vague because I found out I didn’t know.  And, who reads forms anyway.

My mother language is Spanish.  I speak it everyday. I have never been abroad.  I went to a public school and a public university without much emphasis in language.  So how come I ended up learning English? To me it’s a little bit obscure, like if I hadn’t decided it.  I just woke up one day and realized I was able to communicate in this language, which was extremely fun and proved useful in more than one way.

Since then I just kept using it and by doing so, it magically got better with the time.

Fine, maybe not magically.  I know I can track it down… a little bit at least.

The Classes

I had basic classes in school – like everyone else I know in here who can barely say “hello”.  I seemed to like it a lot since then and all the progress was pretty much effortless.

I did two semesters of an English course in a local institute.  Here’s where people tend to say “ahh no wonder you know”, but to be honest, this is not the reason.  I already knew most of what they were teaching me.  I got perfect marks with no effort.  It confirmed what I knew.  Why did I stay? Well, this was in 11th grade and I had an obsession with extracurricular activities by then.  As soon as year 11 ended, I stopped going to the institute and didn’t look back.

Then it came the internet

I wasn’t looking for it, it was incidental. I was actually looking for pokemon games (shut up) and I ended up in some boards full of kids around my age.  I was fifteen – though I remember lying at first and saying I was 14 and still in high schol because I felt so very out of place.  I knew I liked English but until then I had never put it to test with actual natives, so I was incredibly intimidated.  If it wasn’t because there was a very bossy Venezuelan girl among the main members, I probably would have quickly gone somewhere else out of fear.  Bossy or not, I knew that if I ever felt misunderstood I could go to her.

I’ve noticed this a lot in the internet: people who have English as a second language who seem to be more insecure than they should.  They say anything, even something simple like “I liked this video a lot”, and immediately feel the need of adding “sorry if my English is bad”.  Given the amount of kids with bad grammar and text speaking around there, I can guarantee no one would have noticed their “bad English” if they hadn’t added that phrase.

Well, I was like that in the boards I mentioned.  I was careful but still felt as if some big grammar god was going to come and judge me.  My language was very basic then, so I don’t think this was entirely bad or I could have gone too careless for my benefit.

I just know now that native or not, people don’t really know that much, and don’t pay that much attention either.

Ever since I graduated from high school almost 7 years ago, I haven’t STUDIED English as such.  My discipline is almost zero.  I have just played along with the internet using it for something else and gaining English skills in the way.  I got use of the anonymity and the written world to put my shyness aside, and just practiced without a conscious effort.  I absorbed vocabulary, I mimicked expressions, and corrected basic errors without thinking long about it.

You could say I learned most of it by osmosis. 😛

I know the Internet is a double-edged sword as it is not the most reliable source for good English examples.  But somehow I surrounded myself with people who had a pretty good idea and this followed me here, to the blogs, where my favorite bloggers are pretty damn good with English.  I didn’t consciously chose them because of that, I just liked what I was reading, the content.

They just happened to know a lot too.

There’s also this episode of my life when I started imagining that people could read my mind.  I wasn’t actually delusional, I think I was just playing with the idea, and it became how I started to think in English – that way if people read my mind at least they won’t understand it.  Really, it makes lots of sense.

I also have  always dreamt of getting out of here and going around the world.  Maybe this influenced my subconscious into keeping my motivation for absorbing more and more English.

And I have a good intuition for spelling in general.  Whatever language it is.  I pick it up by just reading it somewhere.

Lots of little things…

Anyway, I have found out that I like English even more than that.  I don’t like languages in general as so far I haven’t shown an inclination to learn any other.  I might want to learn German someday… maybe.

I like English enough to, I don’t know, maybe get a little bit more serious with it.  Learn more, correct what I still do wrong, get rid of the vices.  Become a person who can speak good English, and not a person who can speak good english… for a non native.  Which is what I am now.  I don’t know if I’m being too hard on myself but that little thing in the end of the sentence already lowers the standard.  I don’t want to stop there.

I am still not good at sitting on a desk with a book of rules.  So I won’t do any of that.  Instead I will try to read more books in English, and I’ll try to write more about different things.  (Read: higher level osmosis)

You’d think I have more time now, and I do.  Except that being a clinically depressed patient seems to be a full time job.  You know, sleeping at inappropriate times, being hopeless, the shaking, the crying and all other job responsibilities.

I won’t do most of the writing in my blog.  I am planning to open my word processor and experiment a lot before showing anyone (which I will have to do eventually, otherwise how can I be sure).  And about the reading part, eBooks will have to do for now as I can’t get “real” books in English over here.  But I do own one paper copy now thanks to the great Sulz (best gift ever, thank you so much).

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12 thoughts on “This language

  1. i’m just happy to hear you like it. i usually give books as gifts but no one shown the level of enthusiasm you had. 🙂

    i wanted to ask you about the ielts but was afraid since you didn’t mention it. anyhow, still keeping my fingers crossed for you for a good grade! but honestly, you don’t need that grade to prove to yourself that your english is good. it is.

  2. Your book was an excellent gift for me.

    1) I really wanted one
    2) I can’t get them by myself.
    3) The book itself was a pretty good read and introduced me to a new author. 🙂
    4) It had its own bookmark!

  3. So, I don’t want to be patronising and say that your English is very good but, well, it is. You write at a higher level than many native speakers, I suppose because you’ve learned the grammar etc. and haven’t picked up bad habits. Of course, being able to write English and being able to speak English are two entirely different skills (I feel so sorry for anyone learning English that the words don’t sound the way they look) but watch enough movies and you’ll be OK.

    If you ever want any books, give me your address and I’ll send them along xx

  4. Oh, are you serious? because i might just take you up on that offer. 😉

    Haha, spoken English is a whole different language. I don’t know how native English speakers learn to write when they’re kids. I have no idea how spoken English and written English ended up being part of the same language…

    The Listening/Speaking abilities are very recent for me. I think I have improved a lot in the past couple of years but I am still going blind as I can’t practice these things everyday – the talking at least. I watch lots of movies, but they’re mostly American and I find it hard to understand other accents sometimes because I’m so used to the American accent.

  5. Of course! If you want something in particular tell me and I’ll look for it or else if I see something I think you’ll like…

    I think I’m going to start an “I’m reading” section on my blog. (Hmm, still have to put widgets up. But that’s boring.)

    (And Americans don’t understand me either, ha.)

  6. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I’ve really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!

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