Is possible to forget part of your native language?

Something like this happened to me long ago with Spanish; my native language.

I've been speaking English since I was 5 years old. However, I stopped reading in Spanish as soon as I started learning English and would only write some sentences.

In 4th grade, while I was already good in English, I could only speak Spanish but barely read it (my parents got a phone call from the Spanish teacher and informed them that I really need to practice) and forgot how to spell many words correctly. From kindergarten to 3rd grade, I had no Spanish teacher.


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I learned German before English, despite being born and raised in the USA. (My parents immigrated from Austria.) My parents didn't think it was important for me to know English until I was about to enter kindergarten, at which point they switched to English and thoroughly confused me. So we are in roughly the same boat?

    Kids adjust quickly, so I actually became better at English, especially with exposure to other kids. To this day, I speak German at less than native level, but I can fool most native speakers for a bit. If I ever lived in a German speaking country, I'm sure it would come back rapidly. In fact, I go about every year. If I'm there for two weeks, I start dreaming in German by the end of the trip.

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    • 2mo

      I should add that I took four years of German in high school and minored in German in college. Of course, it's not taught in grade schools like Spanish often is.

Most Helpful Girl

  • Yes it is possible. If you don't use it often enough. I know many people that understand their native tongue but can't speak it. It's unfortunate. Which is why you must practice practice practice

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What Guys Said 2

  • It does happen, my main language is Spanish too but i often forget words and only remember them in English. That is cause i surrounded myself with things in English, i started listening to music in Spanish to compensate a little.

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  • Sure, sometimes I forget words in hungarian and only remember them in English.

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What Girls Said 1

  • Yes it's possible esp if you don't speak it daily or read it regularly... happened to my mom who's known dutch for 30yrs. She's been in America for 20yrs

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