The Unexpected Language Barrier
Growing up, the earliest English classes I can remember, were when I was 4 or 5 years old.
Ever since, I took English classes every year until I ironically moved to an English speaking country.
Also worth mentioning that I grew up heavily influenced by American Culture. From movies to music, I subconsciously listened to English almost (if not) every single day. So when I when I moved to the U.S at the age of 16, I was perfectly capable of understanding and expressing myself in English.
What caught me off-guard was when in High School I met, for the first time, other people who also spoke Spanish, but used the language in a very different way from my own. What was even more shocking, was that 90% of the time, we even were from the same country. And I'm going to be 100% honest here - sometimes I liked it, but other times I felt extremely uncomfortable.
As a consequence of the shock, I got VERY confused about my own origins and my own way of speaking.
From then on, I started my journey to find my own voice and style to express myself.
I went from exploring my own accent in Spanish, to my English accent (spoiler alert: some things turned out great and many others were an epic fail).
Beautifully, I later realized and learned how language - or accents - are a reflection of our history, whether it's on a personal level, or as a community or country.
My conclusion is that when you hear someone speak, whether you it's in your language or not, you're listening to more than their words. You're listening to their history.
Their language, the word choice, the accent, etc; they're all a reflection of what they've seen, experienced and learned.
So pay attention and listen carefully when someone speaks.
If you leave outside your own judgment and prejudice, you can find very interesting things along the way.
And you, how do you speak?