The language we use determines how we emote, the things we laugh about, the structures in which we sort our thoughts, and how we view and experience the world in general. It is hard to overstate the importance and significance of language for humans in general. When we venture abroad, particularly into a country where we do not speak the local language, things can quickly become tricky, or even frustrating - after all, there is a chance we cannot communicate who we truly are. Getting to know the local language little by little does not only tell us a lot about the intellectual world of the local population, but is likely to change our own in the process as well - at least to a certain degree. This task is, however, not an easy one, and the language barrier is one of the most widely expereinced roadblocks among expats. In this article series, we feature user-contributed articles dealing with the many different aspects of language and how we experience and use it abroad.
Becoming fluent in a foreign language broadens your world, and opens you some doors and sometimes also some hearts. This is pretty obvious and well known. But in my experience it also involves some loss. And this is usually less acknowledged.
Even though my accent may be something I always have, and I may secretly scowl on the inside when people point it out, I embrace and appreciate that many people regard it is “cute” and “endearing” and I appreciate even more how far I have come - and that should bring a genuine smile to anyone’s face who has overcome such barriers.
It doesn't help that my children speak English to me (unless I insist otherwise) as was the case here – so to an outsider it must have been quite a picture to hear my Czech 'oh really' at the end of the conversation.