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Quick Write 121611 "L1 self and L2 self"

During conversations with my fellow teacher, we talked about L1 (first language) self and L2 (second language) self. Our discussion went into whether or not “our” L1 self and L2 self are separate and different. We often hear the statement submitted by English learners in Japan that another “self” or another “personality” emerges when they speak English. But is it really so? Is another self, L2 self, separate and different from L1 self? Or should it be so? What’s L1 self and what’s L2 self anyway? Our shared conclusion is “No.” We think our L1 self and L2 self are sort of integrated, or at least not clearly divided, not totally identical but merged. It’s not like we are proficient enough to express ourselves in English with the same fluency and accuracy as we speak Japanese. It’s more like we don’t go back and forth between L1 self and L2 self when speaking English and Japanese, or at least we feel so. “Self” can be restated as “character” or "personality” here. Are you following me?

I think it’s safe to say that as our English language learning progresses, we will need less effort to express ourselves in the target language. Production of the language becomes highly automatized as we keep practicing, and eventually, there would be almost no interference of L1 when producing L2, which is kind of ideal that most of the L2ers are seeking. We won’t deny that our L1 interference is minor compared to beginning or intermediate- level learners, but that doesn’t mean that we have no problem speaking L2, English. It’s just we need less “effort” or “consciousness” when speaking English. What we discussed tonight was whether our “self”, “character”, or “personality” changes when speaking L2. My fellow teacher and I shared that the view that we’d say whatever we’d say in Japanese in English, and we’d never say whatever we wouldn’t say in Japanese.

Some English learners might say, “I can say anything in English because I can be a different person when speaking English.” or “I become less conscious about what people think of me when speaking English.” or “I can be more frank, candid, and straightforward when speaking in English.” or “I can say the things I wouldn’t say in Japanese when speaking English.” All of the arguments sound plausible, and to be honest, I’ve been through such experiences or had such affect toward speaking English, but not anymore. Probably, my L2 self has started merging into my L1 self or vice versa. At least I’ve started feeling that my L2 self largely overlap my L1 self, and I consider myself as the same person, the same self whether speaking L1 or L2. I know I should give more thoughts to that, but this is what I have to say tonight.  

(50 minutes / 469 words)

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Aya

Author:Aya
English learner

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