But if, for example, you are a learner of Japanese living in Japan and you marry a Japanese woman with whom you mostly speak Japanese (even though you aren't fluent yet), it'll presumably do wonders for your language abilities.
So unless you already speak the language together, your spouse may not be of all that much help in learning their langauge.
With Japanese non-natives who marry Japanese but never learn it, it is unique situation where the community probably for all intents and purposes is English (usually). This probably would only happen in a country like Japan which has a unique way of both accommodating and segregating foreign influence.
When being in Taiwan for a few weeks, I always have the feeling that I have still many deficits in reading or speaking. But I can handle most situations there alone, so I should be happy with that.
As far as speaking the language to her, it feels weird to do so in Canada, so we don't. although we do make small talk with the kids in Japanese. We also both read to the kids in Japanese as well as watch Japanese kids shows.
I have to say after the intense work I have been putting into Chinese for all these years I don't know if and when I get myself to take on another one, but if so it will probably be from this pool: Japanese, Portuguese, maybe Dutch.
But then again, maintaining one's existing portfolio is already more than enough work. I never felt that I have a special talent for languages and in a way I feel very often that learning languages is all about trying every day to suck a little bit less, rather than ever being really good at it.
On top of this over 15 years ago I dated another Korean (no I don't only date Asians). This woman was a professor of Korean for the military, so you would think she could teach me something. Yet, she taught me even less, I never even knew how to say anyeonghasayo from her. So I think unless you have someone that is equally motivated to teach you as you are motivated to learn, it just doesn't work.
At the beginning of our story, we spoke in English only.
Now, we speak in English and Thai, I would say 50/50.
I think in the (near) future we will speak Thai most of the time, but we will never stop communicate in English. As pointed earlier by Steve, habits are hard to break !
In my opinion, having a spouse whose native language is your target language is good to PRACTICE, not to LEARN.
--they will often resent having to teach you like a baby
--it is another chore in their day, for you
--feedback is really difficult to manage
--there are much better ways to learn a language (like lingq) (and you will surprise and impress your partner by making an effort in your own time)
However, if your ability is already ok, and, you just use your partner's language in general everyday use, and, you pick up some new things now and again then this is obviously ok.
However, my experience have been different(as I suposse similar to the others)my partner is Finnish,we met in Spain. When we met he spoke very poor Spanish(he uses a lot Italian vocabulary) so I was very patient with him. He says that he learned to speak Spanish with me. After 5 years speaking in Spanish I got bored to his strong accent and to see him not improving in the language. He would not understand what I was saying sometimes and will take long time to explain,express certain things fluently sometimes. Because he is the" speaking advocate" he don´t like to read,and he thinks that the way you learn is Speaking.
My mother language is Portuguese,and my partner dont show any interest to learn Portuguese. I even created a LingQ account to him. he uses it maybe twice,then never again.
As we have been leaving betwen Finland and Spain, I did not speak English 1 year ago,even know I am still studying. I decided to start speaking in English with him as his English is stronger than his Spanish. Yet even now when he wakes up he speaks to me in Spanish I answer in English because I want to learn, I want to use my English. Maybe it sounds heavy,boring I don´t know. I don´t really care, because that is actually the only way I can get practice. Anyway after 4 months we changed the language I see him trying to keep his Spanish "skills" talking with me in Spanish and sometimes in Italian(as he believes he have a "talent" for languages and I do not have that talent). From my experience I know that " Talent is overrated". Especially when it cames to language. It is so anoying because my tongue language is Portuguse and if I am willing to talk in Spanish I will meet my Hispanohablante native Friends.
Now when it cames to his mother language Finnish better not even try to get any help. Even last time I would like to listen to some Finnish songs he got so anoyed. He only wants to listen Italian songs,Spanish songs etc And also watch Italian moves(what I understand and encourage him, if it is so important for him). So I am kind of creating my learnind enviroment into my pc,my ipod and exchange group conversation.
Good luck for those willing to learn the partner language!.
My fiancée is from Russia. At the beginning of our relationship we spoke mostly in English, because her German was very bad and my Russian nonexistent. Today we converse mostly in German. We knew very early on that (after completing our studies) we would live in Germany, because there are no job prospects for me in her hometown, Arkhangelsk (and in general very few in Russia, but the situation may hopefully change with the rise of Skolkovo). Therefore, she had to learn German to a high level (she passed the C1 test a few month ago), while my Russian studies were more or less a hobby (I know it on a B2 level) and just important to speak with her family and friends, as none of them understands English.
As JujuLeCaribou and iang I have made the experience, that having a foreign spouse can help you to practice a language and to pick up some new things (provided that you speak it already on an intermediate level), but it won't help you much learning the language from scratch.
obviously, my ability to speak portugues is not too high, I make some mistakes when I speak, but I can comunicate, so for me, the most importance thing is the comprension, If you´re be able to understand every thing then you can comunicate without problems
May 28, 2012, 9:43 a.m.
IMO You should learn Czech or Russian! That way you’d soon have very fond memories of Chinese grammar! :-)
May 28, 2012, 10:14 a.m.
However, in his defence he is an engineer and I moved to the UK relatively early in life and studied English literature :-) so we're even.
May 28, 2012, 11:01 a.m.
What! He's Cambridge man and he doesn't know the word "resile"...!? :-0
He should've studied law! (Or Latin...!) :-p
May 28, 2012, 12:35 p.m.
Oxford is better for Latin :-)