Friday, March 7, 2008

How you would choose to define your language abilities?

How you would choose to define your language abilities, Steve?

Well, it's hard to say... I consider myself bilingual in some domains, but hopelessly out of my league in other domains. Sometimes I feel that I can speak Japanese really well, especially at an Izakaya (kinda restaurant/pub in Japan) when the language is very casual, but in school meetings (when conducted in Japanese) I struggle for every word.
At the moment, I tend to disagree with the labeling that is done (refer to:Incipient/balanced etc), as it tends to pigeon hole people under headings that may not adequately describe them. But without the jargon, it is very difficult to discuss concepts, 'cause we would need to rely on a lot of pretty heavy description...something I noticed while doing the research subject last semester...
My friend and I (he is Japanese -but fluent in spoken English) were discussing my language ability the other day. He said to me that I don't really know Japanese, 'cause he rarely hears me speak it. I said to him that it is quite difficult to speak to him in Japanese, 'cause I know that he understands English really well. Then I told him to finish the conversation in Japanese...which he did and I could understand his every word, but I was still unable to respond to him in Japanese. I had some kind of invisible wall, that made me clam up in Japanese, and revert back to English replies.
There are many times that people praise me, and a lot of other times when they say my Japanese sucks. So it leads me to wonder how someone can really evaluate another person being bilingual.
I think anyone who has had a reasonable amount of exposure to an L2 (or L3, L4) and communicate or understand communication in that language (through at least one of the macro skills) is bilingual to some extent.

How you would choose to define your language abilities?
ps. I don't know if I adequately responded to this question, because it seems like such a big one, at least for me, at this time...

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