Posted by Cheryl Lingjuan Yan
Last week, we talked about language globalization in class. Language globalization allows language itself and its culture to spread and dominate on a global scale. And when Alison asked a question afterwards that whether there were some scenarios in our life we felt embarrassed to speak a certain language, it reminds me of some of my personal experiences, which I think is quite relevant to the issues we were talking about. This semester I registered two language courses, one Korean language course at McGill and another French course at Concordia. Both of them are very intensive.
Right at the first time I came to that Korean class, I noticed that quite a few students in my class were either full Korean or half-Korean because they talked to each other in fluent Korean rather than English. So it is doubtless they have already had some foundation before they came to the class. I found this class really competitive, and every time the professor asked me to read Korean characters, I felt quite nervous. Not because I was unfamiliar with Korean vowels and consonants, but because I did not make myself stupid in front of the whole class. I always got a feeling that their level of Korean language is so high, and I totally I have no idea why they registered the beginner level. As a beginner of Korean language, I guess I just need more time to digest and practice what I have learnt in class. Apart from that, Korean has different sentence structures depending on to whom you are speaking to. Generally speaking, if you speak to one who is older than you, you are supposed to show your respect to him or her through the sentence structure used in particular. That makes me awkward when I speak to my professor. Because I do not want to be rude to her, I have to pay special attention to my sentence structure and my word choice. That is one of the situations where I feel quite uncomfortable to speak a language.
I find a video clip to illustrate my point.
Another scenario happened in my French class. I guess my French reading and writing are just better than my speaking and listening due to the reason that when you are reading and writing, you have time to think about sentence structures and fix the grammatical errors. However, when it comes to listening and speaking, it is a different story. My placement test was to write an essay in French, and I do not know somehow they put me into the advanced level. I do not want to ask them to lower my level because I want to finish it as soon as possible, which means I really have to put more efforts into learning French so that I can catch up on the rest of the class. I think it is the case for me but maybe it is not necessary for everyone that I feel more embarrassed and nervous to speak a language when I know others will do a better job than me. Therefore, every time the teacher asks us to do group discussion I am not quite involved into it. And when other people speak, I am too stressed out to be really into it.
These are the two scenarios I am struggling with. Please feel free to make comment on.