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You may well be thinking that I am really pushing the boundaries here by suggesting that there is a way to ‘see’ in English, but in fact this is more about the notion of redefining how the brain can work.
There is not really that much research as far as I know at this point on whether our brain changes due to different linguistic styles, but there has got to be some common sense understanding that certain languages require a central mind bend. There is of course no correct bend, they are all different and rich with idiosyncrasies, but it just makes sense that if there is a change in bent, there must also be a change in how we view the world.
I know there are people who will shoot me down and say that how we perceive the world is not linguistic it is more cultural, but I would like to propose that there is definitely a border between the two that crosses over.
If we speak in a certain language, there must be a style of how we view the world. This could be simply understood by saying that there are certain character traits associated with certain cultures. E.g. Germans are sticklers for time, French are romantics, and Italians and Spanish are very passionate, etc. At the same time, there will always be plenty of exceptions to the rule. But one thing will remain the same, when the person begins to speak their language, is there not a hint of that quality in how they perceive the world?
Saying all that we are back to the world view of English. This is where things get very complicated, because if we are going to stick to the common BBC English, we can perceive some kind of intellectual element, but English isn’t so cut and dry these days. There are plenty of countries that speak English as their first language or fluent second language, and so there is a mix of the ‘British-ness’ in the perception but with a local flavor.
This definitely can be seen in places like the US, Canada, South Africa, NZ and Australia. However, even more profound is this flavor when we look at places like India, Singapore and Malaysia.
To speak English today in a non-English speaking country does have a perception to it, however the perception is really more in line with the country of locality rather than the origin of the language. What new speakers of English have to do is to find in themselves how they perceive English speakers of their own nationalities and build their view from there. We will never be British just because we speak English and we will never need to be.
Understanding how to see in English is all about understanding your own culture and the English that sits in it. Feeling that will help you to ‘see’ in English – which means ‘looking’ in English but through your own cultural eyes. This is also what great teachers need to encourage and nurture.