Learning Languages and their Dialects

There is a disagreement among many language instructors as to if there is a "best" version of a language to learn. Languages can vary wildly between countries and regions and, particularly, if there was a significant historical point of diversion such as between the French of France and that of Quebec, or between the Spanish of Spain and that of the Latin American countries. Some purists feel that beginning students should learn the version that comes from the mother country, meaning that a new student would be better to learn French in Paris, France rather than in the Canada or Haiti. Since this is the "original" language, it is (theoretically) more pure and therefore is a good starting point. Students can then augment this knowledge with the more specific dialects of other regions or countries.

French speaking countries.

On the other side of that coin is the argument of practicality. Some instructors would argue that the language spoken in the "mother" country is not actually a pure version, but simply a different version, as it too has changed significantly over time. So, as a result, there is no objective or overarching reason to learn that version and one should choose what would be most practical for them. So, according to this mentality, if you live in Canada, it would clearly make more sense to study québécois French rather than, say, Parisian. Or if you live in the United States, it would be much more reasonable to learn Mexican Spanish since the vast majority of Spanish speakers there are of Mexican (or Central American) origin.

However, some dialects may prove less useful than others. For example learning Haitian Creole French will limit the number of other French speakers who would understand you, while if you spoke a more "standard" French, it is likely that Haitians would still be able to understand you. Likewise, learning Argentinean Spanish as a base will be limiting as they use a different grammatical form for "you" that most other countries do not use.

Spanish speaking countries.

Regardless of where you fall on this issue, whether you think is is better to learn English in England, to learn English in USA, learn Spanish in Costa Rica or Learn Spanish in Nicaragua, many texts use a mostly "standard" version of the language that strives to be universally understood. Unfortunately, this usually results in a language that, while, everybody understands, nobody actually speaks. That is the sacrifice and asset that comes with learning such versions. Having this choice at the beginning of your journey learning whatever language you are, is the unique opportunity a language christening presents. And regardless of what you choose, it is already a positive thing that you are learning a new language, so choose what best works for you!




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