Forgetting My First Language

Jenny Liao shares her personal history in the New Yorker:

The struggle to retain my first language feels isolating but isn’t unique; it’s a shared pain common among first- and second-generation immigrants. This phenomenon is known as first-language attrition, the process of forgetting a first or native language.

Unlike Jenny who was born in New York City, I came to the U.S. when I was 11. At that age, I have learned a good deal of Vietnamese. I spoke Vietnamese with my mom at home, but I had to put the first language aside to learn English. As a result, my Vietnamese was slipping away from me. I misspelled almost every other word when I write. With Vietnamese books from the Fairfax public libraries and my blog, I read and practice writing Vietnamese again. It is such a joy to be reconnected with my first language.

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