We define and express ourselves with our language. It how we think, write, speak, and dream. When learning a new language, it can be frustrating to not be able to fully communicate in a second language. However, there will be a few moments in your language learning when you realize that you have actually done it and really learned your second language.
Dreaming of a New Language
Anyone who has learned a second language often feels that the moment they know they have learned their new language is when they dream in the new language. Language learners feel an “a-ha” moment when they wake up from a night of dreaming in that language.
You will also know that you have learned a new language when you no longer have to think about what to say. If you are conversing in your first language, you do not usually have to stop and think about what you are going to say. When you are able to speak in your second language with the same confidence as your first, you have learned your new language.
Unlock the Combinations
You can also say you have learned your new language when you begin to combine your native and new languages. Many people have heard of “Spanglish” where people speak a combination of Spanish and English; when you are able to mix your languages, you have learned the second one. You might surprise yourself with some of the unusual combinations that you create as your brain tries to sort out the two (or more) languages that it is attempting to process.
Emotional moments can also bring out language surprises. Many people remember the show I Love Lucy from the 1950s and 1960s, especially when Ricky Ricardo would have a temper tantrum and begin shouting in Spanish. When you have truly learned a new language, you might begin to shout in your new language. If you do accidentally slip into your second language, you might spoil the moment when you hear yourself shouting in a language you have never shouted in before that moment. Don’t be surprised if your emotions suddenly change and you being screaming in joy, rather than frustration.
Free Your Mind
In most cases, you will realize that you have learned your second language when you can speak it without having to pause and think. The sudden realization that your new language has become a natural, ingrained part of your life is liberating and exciting, proving that you can and did learn something as challenging as a foreign language.