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When someone takes on the challenge to learn a language and someone says that it will be a life-long venture, the person will most likely embrace the idea, but the reality is that ‘life’ is a very long time, and there may come a time when they may ask….have I now learned enough?
I’m going to jump right out there and say – yes!
I say this because we are talking about competency here. If you are constantly learning the language again and again, it appears that nothing much is sticking and so there seems to be a never ending battle to get to base one. But this is not entirely the right way to look at it.
There will be a time when almost everyone you meet will never doubt that you are a native speaker or ‘virtual’ native speaker. So what then? What else is there to learn that will make your learning continue?
Well, even native speakers are constantly learning about their language. Native speakers are learning all kinds of different aspects to a meaning that wasn’t clear to them before. Also there are always new words entering the English language that require learning and usage.
So what about the non-native (or ‘virtual’) native speaker?
Well, for sure there will be gaps. These gaps are most likely to be in vocabulary and subtle meaning differences and idioms. These meanings and subtleties will change depending on:
- The native English country you are in
- The age group of the people you mix with
- The social class of people you mix with
- The gender you mix with
All of these factors play a part in the flavours of English (as it does in any language). And if you were never raised in a native English country, a lot of these things will need to be learned, the hard way.
The best way to look at a life long experience, is to not even think of it that way. Jut make sure you are using your English daily for whatever reason is necessary and these different tastes will appear. Once they appear there is no harm is asking the meaning. The more you ask, the more informed you will get.
But most importantly, don’t worry about not working hard enough at your new language, just relax and enjoy communicating as after all, that is what it’s all about.