It’s not broken!


in In Your Head

I recently received an e-mail from a student who apologized for his English and wrote, “…from this email you may know that I use ‘broken’ English.”

I have a different opinion!

While we are acquiring a new language, we develop an “in-between” language. Language teachers call this inter-language. Inter-language includes (1) what we know of the new language, (2) guesses about the new language, and (3) influences from our first language. Some of my Spanish-speaking students call their inter-language Spanglish!

Inter-language constantly changes while we are acquiring the new language. If an English language learner continues to read and listen to easy-to-understand English, their inter-language will become more and more like the English they want to speak and write.

The important thing about the e-mail I received from this student is that it was easy to understand. It was effective communication, even if it wasn’t perfect English.

Inter-language. It isn’t broken! It’s just different. It’s a sign that you are somewhere in between where you started and where you are going. And it will keep changing as you move closer and closer to your destination: fluent English.

Warren Ediger
warren [at] successfulenglish [dot] com

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