Friend in Frankfurt: Once you’ve been here for a while, you’ll realise that your English begins to change.
Me: No chance!
I couldn’t have been more wrong. 21 months later and I often catch myself saying odd things in English that I never would have crossed my mind before I moved abroad. Of course, the way we speak is strongly influenced by those we are surrounded by (hence my lovely South London accent), but I am beginning to realise this a lot more since working and living with people from all over the world.
I don’t think it’s a case of forgetting your native language, rather becoming used to phrasing sentences in a way that you wouldn’t usually say them to ensure non-native English speakers understand, not speaking too quickly and not using colloquial language. In my case, sometimes maybe even ‘Germanising’ the sentence to make communication easier. This doesn’t mean what words you use, rather how you use them, avoiding cultural miscommunications.
A friend from home once mentioned that it’s weird that I keep saying “very good” all the time. I then realised that this is something I’ve picked up from the commonly used “sehr gut” in German. Do you ever catch yourself doing something similar?
Regularly keeping in touch with friends from home and using English on a daily basis means I’m able to maintain my native language, although there’s no doubt my vocabulary will continue to adjust. I didn’t realise how just 21 months of living abroad, talking German on a daily basis and speaking to non-native speakers has adapted my native language, and even given me days where my English sounds ‘too German.’ Ha! I’ll need not to make a habit of this.