Being able to speak many languages is not the same as understanding all the languages that we can speak. If you understand the language, you have a better chance of success in communicating your thoughts more effectively. There are 2 golden rules I use throughout my entire life speaking different languages.. You can read them at the end of this post.
The idea is to find out how the language works for two people. The reason for this is very simple. It takes only two people to stop using a common language to make it (language) obsolete. If a person says ‘ouch!’ and the other who hears it does not respond, “What happen?”, there is no interaction and that means no communication. It is as simple as that.
If I say, “Can I have a glass of water please?” and your response is, “Would you like it cold or warm?”, you are actually demonstrating understanding of the language. Sometimes, we are amazed at how children respond very well to our questions even when they do not speak up. We tell the child to say goodbye. He waves his hand instead. We ask the child to stop writing and listen to the lesson, he promptly puts his pencil down, folds his arms on the table and sits upright. In all cases, the actions speak for him. He demonstrates understanding of the language we speak.
A baby never has to try to create conversation. It is often the adults who come forward to greet the baby or child with words. When he goes to school, he is greeted by his teachers. Then slowly he is taught to do the same for the teachers and his friends. If he does not respond, the teachers keep trying until he overcomes his shyness to speak and finally responds to the greeting. (One of the assessments of child development is to find out if the kid demonstrates ability to say and respond to greetings.)
Although we have a good command of the language, it does not necessarily mean we have a higher knowledge of how it works in different social environment or for different people. To check whether or not you have a good grasp of the language you are speaking, here are 2 golden rules to follow:
- Never ask the same question thrice. If you have to do so it means the other party does not understand you the second time. Rephrase your question.
- Never answer the same question twice differently. It means you do not comprehend or understand the question the first time it was asked.
If you find yourself breaking these 2 golden rules, you have not reached your full potential at understanding how the language works and make it work for you in real life. Go back to basics and try to work from simpler topics and sentences.