I grew up in an Afrikaans house, television only came to South Africa when I was in school, and even then we had lots of Afrikaans programs. I’m sure there was English ones that were good as well, but English was something “those red-necks” spoke. Oh yes, and it was a school subject; something like a self-defense class… English was something you had to do and sometimes needed. Useful, like karate.
As I grew up this changed… Interestingly enough, in the later school years, I enjoyed my prescribed books in English much more than Afrikaans; the stories were just so much better! I developed an interest in computers; I went to a “dual-medium” university, and found I preferred the lectures in the same language as the book… When I hit the workplace, life has changed and I found my co-workers who went to Afrikaans universities confusing to talk shop with… Today I sometimes feel more competent in English than my mother-tongue (at least in professional work environments); scary stuff.
I many times wish that I paid more attention to English as a subject; that my attitude were different. Not initially being “serious” about the English language has left it legacy. Language errors for me are abound, it’s getting better, but it is a constant struggle. How I wished I paid more attention to the grammar rules, and how I wished I read more English and used the dictionary more often!
Of course I had many years to work on my English skills and it’s probably (hopefully) much better now than say 25 years ago. However, I often see my students struggling with the same issues I had. Many of my students are from non-English backgrounds, and struggle with similar issues as what I struggled (struggle?) with.
I remembered all this when I saw a link to this list of typical “word mistakes” – useful if you tend to get words wrong!.
Maybe English (or any language) is not so different from say learning a martial art for self-defense… One needs to get the basics right before going to the next level. To do so we need to be open to criticism and practice a lot.
Do you practice your English enough?