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The time you spent with your mother tongue vs. the progress of the language acquisition.
Hello Italki Lovers,

As an English language learner who spend several years in an English-speaking country, then came back to my country where I rarely meet someone who speaks English, I have a question to ask, which is…

Does the amount of time that you spend with your mother tongue have a negative effect on the acquisition of your target language?

I keep the question simple and sweet to see your initial response.

Thank you!

May 23, 2020 12:09 PM
Comments · 8
@Masahide, the answer is yes... You can't have it all... Sorry.
May 23, 2020
Hello! I learned my second language from the scratch to the end living in my country, surrounded by information in my native language. It slows the process, but doesn't stop it, as one can use youtube and other internets to get access to examples of speech. My L3 I learn in the other country. It helps a little to get used to the sound of speech, which helps with listening and, of course, you learn to read quite fast. But does it really help with speaking? I'm not so sure. I'm one of those who have a huge block on speaking when unsure what I should say. Seemingly, only speaking lessons really help me to overcome this. Moreover, I noticed one fun thing - after some 5 month in the foreign country it starts to press on you that you cannot fully understand everything that is said around you. In my case this is not quite a problem, as I learn too fast, but for other people to be in the informational bubble could be really depressing and could slow the progress.
May 23, 2020
Yes. My English improved immensely after I completely stopped consuming YouTube videos, movies, cartoons, TV series, books, articles and social media in my native language. I haven't been to an English-speaking country yet, unfortunately, but living in one is my ultimate goal.
June 18, 2020
First of all, my apologies for getting back to you all so late.

Ned@ thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think there are both pros and cons of “learning” a new language in your home country or in a country where your target language is spoken. As you described, the learners primary focus would be, I imagine, reading, listening and possibly writing, but not for speaking part when he aims to learn it while living in his own country due to limited resources or opportunities to use it (luckily, we know Italki, yay); thus, it potentially would be a reason to make him feel uncomfortable to communicate with native speakers during the initial phase of the learning process in a foreign country.
Having said that, I’m quite convinced that as long as he has exposed himself to a sufficient amount of time for inputs, it wouldn’t be the underlying problem of acquiring his target language(s). 

June 18, 2020
Masahide, I think that the potential negative impact of living in a place where your target language is not spoken depends on the stage at which you find yourself. Your English is already advanced and you benefitted from living in a place where English is the primary language for several years. Maintenance requires less time than the early stages of acquisition.

Here is a post about maintaining one's level in a language from a writer who has some original and rather blunt opinions about polyglot aspirations, language, language acquisition, and time:

They suggest that half an hour a day, every day, is enough to maintain one's level. It is more of an effort to make time for and seek out resources in the target language when you are not surrounded by it, but it isn't difficult once it's a habit.
May 23, 2020
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Language Skills
Arabic, English, French, Japanese
Learning Language
English, French