According to some of my native speaking American friends my written skills has improved since I started my blog last year. I can not judge myself on my written skills, but I do notice that my verbal skills have improved over the last three years. Especially my vocabulary has enlarged. For me the active forms of a language, speaking and writing, are easier than the more passive forms, listening and reading. When it comes to writing I have to admit that I use the spellings control on my smartphone and if I have do not have a clue on how to spell a word I use my dictaphone. To ensure that I will not get a RSI thumb, by writing all my blogs on my phone with only my thumb, I sometimes use my dictaphone as well. The problem with that is my pronunciation. There are many words that sound equal to me or I do hear the difference in pronunciation but can’t pronounce it the right way myself. For example ‘Dough’ and ‘dog’ or ‘goat’ and ‘coat’. There’s only a slight difference in the way it should be pronounced. Like most people I find it harder to grasps and make sense on what I hear than to speak. As in reading English or even Dutch, reading has never been my strongest suit. Despite the fact that my English has improved a lot over time my English vocabulary is by far smaller than my Dutch vocabulary, what really annoys me from time to time.
I just can’t identify with people who do not have the urge to speak the national language. Like the other day I spoke to this Armenian guy who lives most of his life in NY, 27 years, but did not speak proper English. In my job as a teacher it really bothers me that I have to bend over backwards to make myself clear to third generation immigrants because they speak poor Dutch. To me integration is adjusting to the national culture while maintaining your own culture. A great part of integration is being able to communicate in the national language. If it would be up to me you should not be given legal residency or citizenship without speaking the language of the country. – by Bregje