The First Language Influence or the FLI

First Language InfluenceMany of us speak regional sounds in English. By regional sounds I mean, the sounds borrowed from the language that we speak as first language. It is a common misconception among students in India that our first language is English. Here is why – In schools, the medium of teaching is English. Schools offer “second language” that could be Hindi / Tamil / Malayalam/ Telugu/ Sanskrit/ Punjabi /Marati or Kannada depending on the region that we are from originally. So its common to assume that our first language is English. But what do we mean by First language? Its the language that your mother spoke to you when you were a babe in arms. It is the language that your family speaks as ” mother tongue”. It is the language that you think in or use easily when you need to convey your thoughts.

The point I want to make here is, when we speak English, we borrow not only the intonation and the rhythm pattern of our first language but also most of the sounds. It is easy to recognize someone from a particular region just based on the sound errors he/ she makes. Typically, we speak all consonant sounds harder than they have to be spoken and we “clip” all the vowel sounds. These sound errors make us sound Indian or heavily accented with regional sounds.

That is what we mean by the first language influence in English or FLI.


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