Learning a new language as an adult is not an easy task. Like developing any new skill, it takes repetition and practice, so our brain can lay down the nerve pathways required for it to become automatic. In the case of language, to become fluent.
I am becoming more fluent in my second language. Some of my automatic responses have become “norwegianised”, for example; ´selvfølgelig´= of course, ´kanskje´ = maybe and ´men´= but. However, I still have a way to go until I am dreaming in Norwegian!
One thing that I have come to realise though, is that it is easier to forget in a language that is not your mother-tongue. I always thought I had a good memory. I can often recall where I was when I heard something, but now I forget what people have said, right after they have said it.
This can happen with patients, or in conversations with friends. I often ask the same question, or discuss the same thing with them simply because I have forgotten what they just said. I am sorry about this, it is not intentional, but when I am in Norwegian mode, my brain is working overtime! It has to find the words, attach their meaning, and then structure the sentences that I need to use, in order to have a simple conversation. While all of this is happening, my brain is trying to figure out where to store the information it just received, so that it can retrieve it again at a later time. This process has not yet become automatic for me.
I am sure this can be frustrating for the person on the other side of the “table”, and at times they must think I am a little odd, but it will not last forever. As I become more fluent in my new language I will use less brain power to process information and construct my sentences. So, in the meantime, please bear with me. I am not going crazy; my brain is just learning.
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