Press-Republican

Guest Column

May 8, 2013

It's not just about language

In my first class at SUNY Plattsburgh, I was the only international student in the room. 

The professor spoke very fast, and the other students didn’t seem to wonder what he was talking about. It took me about a month to finally be able to understand every word my teachers uttered. 

I must admit that, at first, I didn’t think I would do well in school.

Mauritius, an island off the east coast of Madagascar, is where I was born and lived for about 19 years. My first language is Mauritian Creole, my second is French and my third is English. 

After our independence from the British in 1968, English became our national language.

In school, we learn and write in English. However, other than in the parliament, Mauritians do not communicate with each other in that language.

My dad, however, is an English teacher and speaks the language very well; I always wanted to be able to speak as well as he did and have learned a lot from him.

Growing up, I watched every Disney film and many other American movies in French, but as my wish to study in the United States grew stronger, I began to watch them in English to get accustomed to the accent.

Having a British education system in Mauritius, the English I learned was very different. I decided to learn the American accent, and I practiced it while reading for about two years. When I came to the United States, I was told by a few people that my accent was “kind of American.”

EYEBROWS RAISE

I had an American boyfriend for about two years of my stay in the States, and he helped me improve my English and accent much faster.

He always corrected me if I pronounced a word wrong and taught me much about the United States. 

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