I feel so bad that I haven’t written anything in such a long time. My life just got messed up basically but i’ll talk about that another time. My last few posts have all been in Polish and I thought that I was being unfair so, here it goes in English first:
Being bilingual. It has many advantages but also some disadvantages. Well, you may ask: “what’s so bad about being fluent in two languages?”. And the answer is nothing really apart from the fact that it requires a lot of work to remain ‘fluent’. My Polish friend that I go to school with, told me that he speaks to his brother In english and he doesn’t really read or write in Polish. I have heard him speak only a few times. When I talk to him in Polish he will answer me back in English. At first you may think ‘cool! We are able to communicate in two languages at once’ but actually my friend will find that he will quickly begin to lose the fluency of speaking Polish. He already prefers to speak in English.
In my case I think that I am quite balanced out right now. I spend most of my day in school surrounded by english speaking people and when I get home I switch and speak Polish to friends and family. However, since I spend more time in school than at home I need to dedicate my own time on keeping up with Polish.
When I was still a child my mum would read to me in Polish before I went to bed and then as I grew older I would read by myself. This was part of my daily routine for the past seven years… Unfortunately, I need to confess that I haven’t picked up my book in over a month or even two. As a concequence when I need to read something out loud or I am writing to a friend in Polish I am finding it more and more difficult. Words that I would once spell correctly autimatically, now I have to think about and still I am unsure.
One question I am always asked is “what language do you think in?”. Right now in English since I am writing in English. However, this varies depending on what I am thinking about or in what language I am writing or talking in at the given time. This is something that happens automatically and so it isn’t something I realise.
There have been situatiins where I would start speaking Polish to my English friends or to my teachers due to not ‘switching’. By which I mean that I would earlier be talking on the phone in Polish and I would carry on until I realised myself or my friends would stop me, or I just was still thinking about something else in Polish.
A lot of kids have told me “you get to swear to teachers and they won’t even know!”. Never done that, well, I have swore in front of them but not directly at them. Still, you can class that as an advantage.
I mentioned earlier that I need to work on my Polish but I have been in the opposite situation as well. When I was younger I called myself “English” as nothing apart from family connected me to Poland. Now my connection has grown so strong due to the growing patriotism and friendships that I began to lose my perfect English accent after spending so long on holiday in Poland and speaking to Polish friends on facebook as soon as I got home from school. Not only my accent changed but also the way I would put together sentences and the constant forgetting of different words.
I think that I will always have to play sharades with my friends to help me realise what word I am looking for, in both Polish and English as that’s just the life of a bilingual person.
So, that’s it. What’s it like to speak two languages.
The Gab Eye