Have you ever been in a situation when you had to ask for directions from someone who did not speak your language? Did you end up using gestures to make sense of the questions you were asking? This seems to have happened to everyone before at least once. One does not have to be in another country to experience the complexity of language. Sometimes, when communicating with people who we do not have a common accent with, we have to pay close attention in order to understand what they say. This is because the dynamics in our languages create differences in our enunciation. We have to be careful with our choice of words.
The world has many languages and dialects. English, a language used heavily in the world for communication has many dialects that people sometimes think are difficult to understand. The Yorkshire dialect in England is what English grammar was formed upon. So many dialects of English have evolved and the same is true for other languages. Have you listened to a non-native speaker try to speak in another language? It may sound different to us but it also shows that language learning is a step-by-step process. If we accept that there are different variations of every language we will mind what we say when we attempt to communicate with them.
You must indeed mind your language is all Daniel, an international student at Westminster College Fulton, Missouri, said when he was talking to one of his African friends. He states “When I hear other people speak in different languages, some of their words sound like my local tribe's language so I sometimes ask for the meaning of such words.” Another student once said he was taught by a professor whose native language did not have the letter “L”. While teaching his students in their national language, the professor asked them to repeat a sentence after him. The professor thought he was telling his students to pronounce the word “please,” but instead, it sounded like “prease” so the students repeated “prease” after him. It was only when he wrote the words on the black board that the students understood what he meant. How often have we offended someone unintentionally when we tried to correspond with them? This occurrence is common on college campuses where there are students whose native language is different from the one used in classrooms. English is an example of languages that are used to teach in classrooms. If you wish to learn a language other than your mother tongue, grab a tape recorder to record yourself, put the tape away until you have mastered the said language. When you listen to the tape after you are fluent, you will probably wonder if that was you.
We should remember that language is a great tool but there are little barriers that we have to be aware of. Language can be complex because of variations that develop over time. Being aware of the variations should help our language when we talk to people.
by Emmanuel Amenuvor