Sunday, November 21, 2010

Becoming a digital native

Until she went to school, our daughter only spoke Dutch.  For years after learning English, her teachers told us that she had problems with writing - in particular spelling - because of the "interference" from her first language.  When she was in Grade 6 she was put on a special spelling programme because of this problem.

Last week we attended a parent conference to see how she is doing, now that she's in Grade 11 and already fully immersed in the IB diploma.  To our amazement, many of the teachers commented on how well she was writing, how she seems to find it easy.  Most of them had no idea that it was not her first language.

That got me thinking about this whole debate about digital natives -v- digital immigrants.  Just because someone is born in a digital age, it doesn't really follow that they will be "good" with technology.  Just because someone was born before this age, it doesn't follow that they will be uncomfortable with it.

As a teacher I've taught many students for whom English was not their first language (or even their second), yet who have managed to master it so that there was no difference between them and a native-speaker.  It's the same with DSL - digital as a second language.  One day you just realise you are more comfortable in that world - in that language - than in any other.

Photo Credit: The State of Japan by Josh Libatique

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