The role of Ideals in learning a Second Language

Often we compare our language to an ideal language and the greater the comparison, the more we feel that the foreign language already spoken is not good enough. The greater the ideal, the larger the gap of feeling inadequate. Such a gap creates insecurities and through these insecurities, fear arises. If this gap is reduced, fear or language-related anxiety often is too.

Language ideals are different and can be cultural, linguistic, and professional. Such an example is the “American or British” accent. Both often serve as the ideal. For example, in Germany we tend to not learn English with an American accent in school, but Cambridge English. It sets Cambridge English as the ideal and the more different our accent to it, the more one feels alienated from such ideal.

Obama speaking with an American Accent. His accent is good enough to be president.

Learning a second language often approaches an ideal. Many curricular offer ideal vocabulary, language usages, and ideal grammar. However, if it is ideal for the curriculum, it may be less so for you. On the contrary, this tends to create insecurities in practice. This happens even more, when the ideal does not match your own or is less likely. For example, having a different accent can be ideal too; many of my students learn fast when I adopt their accents.

In Business English, distinctive ideals are often taught. This means that students tend to learn specialized vocabulary and phrases. If you approach the ideal of specialized vocabulary and sentences, you are approaching “the” ideal, but at the same time, you are distancing yourself from your own. The risk is that the gap mentioned above will develop and anxiety will arise.

Language-related anxiety can be reduced by expressing ourselves as we are. Therefore, in my English classes, I make sure that you can express yourself in your personality. It is not important to me that you have perfect grammar or a vocabulary list, but that you feel satisfied with your expression. By analyzing your language and focusing on you, I help you achieve this. Good grammar and vocabulary come automatically.

I am looking forward to meeting you.