Speak Your Native LanguageTemitope Oyetunji
Raise your hand if you offered French as a subject in secondary school. If you have your hand up, can you remember how difficult it was for you to chain words together in French? How you bit your tongue trying to convince your teacher they had not been wasting their time teaching you? But why did you have to offer French if you found it so difficult?
Right, we were told learning a foreign language is always beneficial, that it could give you an advantage over others, peradventure you were nominated as an ambassador to France one day. We also gathered it was good for bragging rights, you just came across as posh if you could speak French. If I may ask you though, how much of French do you speak now? And I’m sure you turned out well, didn’t you? Good for you; you only had to endure the tongue twisting for a little while.
Where our innate gifts and abilities is concerned, each one of us has a unique way we express ourselves best. The way you express yourself best can be considered to be your native language, and like your mother tongue, it only takes a little effort for you to speak it fluently. For me, my native language is writing.
Alas, some of us spend most of our lives communicating in a foreign language just because society told us it was the right thing to do. We neglect our native tongue that we speak so well, because they told us it just wasn’t enough. For me, the foreign language I’m speaking is Medicine.
Is it possible to express yourself well enough in a foreign language? Yes, it is. If you started learning French in school and fell in love with it, continued learning and now you can correct a Frenchman’s speech, by all means, continue communicating in French.
But if you are still twisting your tongue, unable to pass your message across clearly, yet you insist on French over your mother tongue, then you are doing yourself, your audience and the foreign language a disservice.
Because in the end, what matters most is not the language you choose to speak, but how effectively you can communicate what you intend, in the most effortless way for you, and in the clearest way possible to your audience.
We are all here to communicate something placed within us to our world, and ultimately our impact will be measured not by how long it took to master the language we chose, but how efficiently we were able to deliver our message.
And you know what the beautiful thing is, it’s never too late to embrace your mother tongue. If it wouldn’t put food on your table, you can always combine it with other lucrative languages like I am. Whatever you do, don’t neglect your native language, the world needs to hear it, just like you’re hearing mine right about now.
So what is your native language? And which foreign language are you currently learning or twisting your tongue at?