In 2001, I studied Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL, teaching foreign languages ​​with computer support) in Australia. Returning home and working at the Multimedia Center of the University of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University, Hanoi, I was asked to speak and write a presentation on this issue.

Eager and full of enthusiasm, I thought what I had given was well received. But I was shocked. My boss, who is a French teacher, annoyed me because I "mixed" English into my writing and speech. He criticized me with harsh words such as "hybrids", "show off", "show off in the West".

I was shocked because none of the adjectives he described correctly mentally. I used those words because I could not find words in Vietnamese with the same meaning or equivalent. I share my memories with technology engineers who often come to my center to work. You acknowledge that there are some English words about information technology that are popular and used in Vietnam such as chat, internet, log in, log out, connection ... however, most of these words and The English words I use have similar words in Vietnamese. At that time, I disagreed because I could not describe the words of Vietnamese equivalent.

Gradually, in Vietnam for a longer time, I became more comfortable with words I didn't know or didn't like to use: account activation, login, interface ... From there I observed and found That the trend of inserting English in communication is increasingly popular among young people, even if the speaker is not fluent in this language. English is sometimes inserted as a "fashionable" to be stylish. I laughed many times when I listened to it and could not figure out what the young people said. At that time, I understood why the boss said I was "hybrids" and "liked to show".

I have come across quite a lot of people who have this "disease", and they speak Vietnamese with a small foreign language because they cannot find equivalent words. Even though they are very heavy, they still understand but cannot understand or speak in Vietnamese. I call this a "mother tongue" disease.

Lack of native language is also a problem for many Vietnamese children in foreign countries. Children may be born in Vietnam, speak Vietnamese well before going abroad, but due to contact at school and in society, there is very little need to use Vietnamese. Moreover, Vietnamese is considered the language of the ethnic minority group (minority group) - not respected in the community, many children just like to speak the native language to integrate easily. If parents do not persist in helping their children maintain Vietnamese at home, they will gradually want to communicate in the most familiar language.

I have seen conversations between my friends and their children in Germany and Australia. Parents speak Vietnamese, children speak German or English. My friend sometimes went crazy because he encouraged his children to refuse to speak Vietnamese while his German was limited, I could not fully understand what he was saying. Sometimes my father raised his voice.

But the problem is not only for Vietnamese children in foreign countries, but for many domestic children. More significantly, the lisp sometimes pays a lot of money and effort. Many families have created a foreign language environment for their children very early. Children are allowed to invest in an international school with foreign teachers from the age of preschool, with a very reasonable expectation: to have a good language skills. This expectation is in line with the idea that children learn foreign languages ​​as soon as possible, or children who know foreign languages ​​often have sharp and intelligent thinking.

No work has yet denied that multilingual children often have good thinking. But there are many studies suggest that children should be fluent in their mother tongue before learning a new language, avoiding the phenomenon of "double semi-lingualism" or "mixing languages" (code mixing).

The "half-hearted" phenomenon was introduced by Hansegard in 1960 and is widely used by linguists such as Scovel, Skutnabb-Kangas-Toukomaa, Cummins or Hamers-Blanc to describe the state of mother tongue proficiency. the foreign language is not well understood by immigrant children "Mixing language" is a concept in the language application industry, only the mixing of two or more languages ​​in communication, often used by bilinguals. Mix language is a common phenomenon and is easily accepted in communication between people who know the same languages, but not suitable when bilingual people communicate with monolinguals.

Moreover, learning a foreign language is learning a culture. When western cultural norms are confused, the communication effectiveness will be limited. Many parents moved their children out of international school because they met everyone who just greeted "hello", met grandparents who did not fold their arms or bowed politely, parents said that they were not satisfied with hearing.

In real life, adding foreign languages ​​into Vietnamese is not a strange phenomenon. But the Vietnamese language girl on television was criticized probably in the culture of public speaking, when not everyone knows or accepts the arbitrary use of foreign languages ​​in the media.

After all, language is for communication purposes. Whether or not the goal is achieved depends not only on what you say, but also in part on the sensitivity of your communication. And no matter what language you speak, if they are not set in an appropriate cultural standard, the communication effect is not high.

Tran Thi Tuyet