The Student Room Group

For those who can't speak their own language

Sadly, I can't speak my own language (african) whereas my parents and all my uncles and aunties (every single one of them) can speak it.
I'm 18 now and they all see me as an adult and they pretty much expect me to speak in their language since I'm "grown up."

Whenever I visit them, they greet me in their language and I'm able to answer back. That's it. Nothing more. I can see that my parents feel a bit asahmed/let down because I'm not able to speak their language.

I'll be honest and admit that I haven't tried my hardest to learn. However, I was born in the UK and raised here, and they rarely spoke their language to me when I was a child. It only started when I was about 13 but still, I couldn't grasp it.
I see little children as young as 3/4 years of age who are able to speak in their own language towards their parents.
(It doesn't help that I'm the oldest too :grumble: )

However, I have A levels to complete and I studied english and french at secondary school, so it was hard to learn my language.
My parents speak it all the time to each other. I can understand bits of it but I can't speak it.
The only words I can speak is: "I'm fine" and "How are you" and "ready"
:redface:

Can anyone relate to me?
For those who can speak their own language, did you learn it as a child or during your teen years?

So I'm getting negged because I want to speak another language...people of TSR :sigh:
(edited 12 years ago)

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Reply 1
I'm in the same situation, however, I'm Chinese. I can basically understand everything, but speaking is something entirely different.
To me its clear that I have to learn Chinese one day because no matter what I do, people around here will always think of me as a Chinese when they see me first. Origin is just something very hard to deny.
Reply 2
I can't but certainly my younger brother can - I think the main reason is that we speak 3 languages including English at home so he only picked up 2 English (since we live in the UK) and our native language although he is not very good at it.

I've learned my native language during my childhood and the other two through school and socialising.

Don't stress yourself about it now - take your time and just aim to really want to learn it - plus try and speak it at home and participate in conversations at your own risk of being made fun of :tongue: - but that shouldn't discourage you!

Good luck!
(edited 12 years ago)
You were born in England, this is your language.
if you can't speak it, were born and raised here in the UK, surely it's not your language? that's like me saying i can't speak my own language because my mum was welsh... when i am english and was born and bred here..


also what is "african"... there are loads of different african languages..



if anyone is to blame it's your parents, they should have spoken it to you from a young age if they wanted you to be able to speak it.
(edited 12 years ago)
Reply 5
If you are British and no other nationality then your language is English. Nothing else.
Reply 6
Original post by This Honest
Sadly, I can't speak my own language (african)


Is that a new one?
I wouldn't say I can't speak it totally, but since I've lived here all my life I do indeed have a hard time stringing a sentence together. I can't express myself as well as I can in English for example... But, if you want to improve you should try reading 'easy' books which are aimed at kids, it genuinely helps. Also movies with subtitles in your chosen langue, gradually you will improve.
Reply 8
Original post by Azarimanka
If you are British and no other nationality then your language is English. Nothing else.


Gaelic and Welsh are equally British languages.
Reply 9
Original post by Norton1
Gaelic and Welsh are equally British languages.


Fair point. But outside of those, as a native of Britain, I feel britain should in no way facilitate foreign languages. Learn English or go home, and stop, if you are British, identifying a foreign tongue as your own.
Reply 10
I came to the UK when I was two and didn't know a word of English because I was brought up speaking my mother tongue. When I was younger I started teaching myself how to read and write in my mother tongue because it just seemed a bit silly if I knew how to speak it but not read or write it.

If you feel like you should be able to speak your language then learn it, although it would have been a lot easier learning it from an early age. Ask your family if they would help you out or something, I'm sure they wouldn't mind, if you are around people speaking a certain language long enough, you should be able to grasp it it gradually.
lol what is 'African'? :rofl2: Never heard of that language before.
Reply 12
I learnt mine growing up :bigsmile:
I too, can't speak my native tongue. I live in Nigeria and our native language is 'Igbo' mostly, Igbo men marry Igbo women(at least all of my uncles did, except for my dad) My dad married from another state(Rivers State) so he practically speaks English with my mum, they both spoke English to us( I and my siblings) throughout our childhood. To add to that my Dad is a Pastor who keeps getting transfered from one state to another for years. My mum on the other hand is a business woman who leaves the house as early as 5:00Am and returns as late as 10:00pm so half of my home life was spent with housemaids, different faces every month. I'm 18 now. My parents both decided to settle in and avoid bringing any housemaids cause of the disadvantages, NOW my dad speaks Igbo to us, expecting us to speak back or reply fluently. Whenever his brothers come to visit, they too, speak Igbo to us and most times they get irritated when we can't respond in Igbo. I can understand 50% of the language because I listen to other people have a conversation with it whenever I'm privileged to come across a situation like that whenever I go out.I also listen to my dad whenever he speaks with his brothers. Still, I can't speak it. I could greet and say few things in the language. Like "good morning, I'm fine, sorry, I'm hungry, shut up, close your eyes, come and eat, lets go, welcome back, my name is..." Etc I can't have a full conversation with it. And honestly it's difficult to admit to people that I don't know my language. It's embarrassing and most times I get ridiculed by my mates who can speak theirs. I want to learn and be able to speak....but it's so hard now 😞
(edited 4 years ago)
Original post by This Honest
Sadly, I can't speak my own language (african) whereas my parents and all my uncles and aunties (every single one of them) can speak it.
I'm 18 now and they all see me as an adult and they pretty much expect me to speak in their language since I'm "grown up."

Whenever I visit them, they greet me in their language and I'm able to answer back. That's it. Nothing more. I can see that my parents feel a bit asahmed/let down because I'm not able to speak their language.

I'll be honest and admit that I haven't tried my hardest to learn. However, I was born in the UK and raised here, and they rarely spoke their language to me when I was a child. It only started when I was about 13 but still, I couldn't grasp it.
I see little children as young as 3/4 years of age who are able to speak in their own language towards their parents.
(It doesn't help that I'm the oldest too :grumble: )

However, I have A levels to complete and I studied english and french at secondary school, so it was hard to learn my language.
My parents speak it all the time to each other. I can understand bits of it but I can't speak it.
The only words I can speak is: "I'm fine" and "How are you" and "ready"
:redface:

Can anyone relate to me?
For those who can speak their own language, did you learn it as a child or during your teen years?

So I'm getting negged because I want to speak another language...people of TSR :sigh:

Same. My home language is Amharic ( I'm Ethiopian) but other then a few basic words, I can't speak the language and can just about understand if someone is speaking slowly. Constantly getting asked my relatives 'Why haven't you learned Amharic yet'. It's so annoying like I was born and raised in the UK, I'm doing A levels and you think I have time to learn a whole language? I think my mum's worried about me not being able to teach our language to my kids but tbh I have bigger problems :colonhash:. My cousin's 20 and can't speak Amharic either, which makes me feel slightly better. I mean, it's hardly going to have a huge impact on your life.
I have a similar issue, I speak English and my mothers language but cannot understand my dads ( very different languages). My dads family doesn’t speak English so there’s a huge language barrier.
i dont know scottish gaelic but it would be exciting to learn it. maybe in the future who knows
Same with me, I'm 14, but parents are Latvian and speak russian. I was born and raised in the UK too but never learned to speak russian but instead learned english. I feel really sad that I can't talk to my parents in their native tongue.
My grandparents view it as a status symbol that I only speak English, but it feels like I’m missing out because I don’t speak their first language. It’s especially annoying when I go on holiday to visit family and everyone else is speaking in a language I can’t understand.
Old thread I know but the topic is still relevant.
Almost every speaker of my (native?) language is fluent in English because it it the lingua franca of the country.
Becuase of this, I am receptively bilingual. (understand but not speak)
I'm attempting to change that though.

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