English 101 - Dr. Mandy Suhr-Sytsma
For my first blog post, I thought I could discuss about my personal experiences with multilingualism. I was born and raised in Helsinki, Finland but moved to the United States just a little over four years ago. In my family, we only spoke Finnish, but I was learning English in middle school since age 12. Then at age 14, I moved to the United States and began high school in English. I was completely overwhelmed with being exposed to a brand new language and culture. My freshman year of high school was mostly spent on trying to assimilate to a new culture while learning English at the same time.
During my first year of high school, I was quickly able to become fluent in English. All of my teachers were surprised by how quickly this occurred. Within just few months, my grades dramatically improved as I was able to think in English and not translate anymore from Finnish to English in my head. I think this has to a great extent to do with this idea of translingual orientation and how languages connect in several different fashions.
I think this idea of translingual orientation that Suresh Canagarajah in his piece Translingual Practice discusses, relates to the experience that I have gone through with learning English at such a dramatic rate. Canagarajah speaks of how monolinguals have the ability to be translingual, because many languages interconnect. I found several parallels between English and Finnish grammar that helped me to translate and understand English, and then truly absorb the English language while only 14. I think that English and Finnish aren't that distant as languages, compared to let's say Mandarin Chinese and Finnish. I think that these parallels aided my English language learning substantially.
Canagarajah, A. Suresh. Translingual Practice: Global Englishes and Cosmopolitan Relations. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2013. Print.