Language Ego: What It Is And What To Do With It

“Language Ego is the identity a person develops in reference to the language he or she speaks.” – Alexander Guiora

For students who learn English as a second language, learning how to communicate is essential. However, that is not an easy task for everyone. Many students do not have the confidence to use the language orally and feel stressed whenever they need to produce it.

In the scientific and professional literature on the acquisition of foreign languages, the term ego can be found. When we learn a foreign language and when we use it in oral or written form, we are in some way transformed into another person. Why? Well, because our knowledge of a foreign language limits us, and in communication, we can not express ourselves with the same ease as we would if we were speaking in our mother tongue. Consequently, we cannot be equally witty, ironic or eloquent, so we often feel bad. That is not us in our full glory. Therefore, you should invent a new self!

When I meet my students for the first time and when we introduce ourselves, I suggest my pupils make up a new name for themselves. It can simply be an English variant of their name – for example, my name is Milica so the closest possible variant, and the one that would be the most similar in terms of pronunciation, is Melissa. However, I could also be Miley or Mila, even Miranda. And that’s the point – to take and embrace the name you like. Maybe it sounds funny or exaggerated but try it. If you cannot come up with a name for yourself, ask your teacher for help. Believe me, when you say this name several times, you will feel closer to that language and culture, which can be very motivating.

Want to get more useful learning tips? Visit our Language Learning Tips blog. And if you’re an educator, we have some great teaching resources here.

About the Author

Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.

 


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