What Is A Primary Language? (Click to read)

primary languages

What Is A Primary Language? (Click to read)

What Is A Primary Language? (Click to read)

(Last Updated On: September 6, 2022)

What Is A Primary Language?

Primary language, also regarded as one’s native language, is one of the first things that you learn as a child, and you’ll use it every day until the day you die. But what exactly defines your primary language?

Is it the language that you are most proficient in? Is it the language that you grew up speaking? Or could it be both? What is the correct language to use?

This article explores the intricacies of what makes up someone’s primary language and why knowing this can help you learn more about their culture and background.

What Form’s a Person’s Primary Language?

Most people grow up speaking one language (mother tongue/mother language) as their primary form of communication. For many, this is the language that they are first exposed to and learn in their homes and communities. It is their natural language of nature of language development.

However, a person’s primary language can also be influenced by the educational activities they participate in, the languages spoken by those around them, and other factors. Language recommendations, based on a person’s primary language, can impact the way instruction is delivered and experienced.

They can also affect what language features are available or enabled. For example, the choice for either default language or sign language can have important implications.

When choosing a primary language, it is important to consider how it will impact all aspects of your communication.

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Factors that Determine the choice of a person’s first language of instruction

There are many factors that contribute to a person’s primary language. It can be the language of instruction in schools, the language feature code of a country, the language experience of an individual, or the language data standard of a community.

Additionally, the impact of language barriers, English language proficiency, and correct language usage can all play a role in determining someone’s primary language. For bilingual children or dual-language learners, the choice for language feature (i.e., logical partitions) may also come into play.

Ultimately, a person’s primary language is usually determined by consensus within the native speaker community. However, English speakers often have different native languages and as such, there is no one dominant primary language.

What is the Differences between First, Second and Third Languages?

Most people know that there are different types of languages, but did you know that there are first, second, and third languages? A first language is a language that a person learns from birth. But what about the additional languages?

A second language (which could be a second mother tongue/mother language) is learned later in life, often in school. A third language is learned even later in life, often after moving to a new country. The way someone acquires their first language may affect how they learn other languages later on.

For example, bilingual children who were born into an English-speaking country or family and never learned another language before they were five years old, they might not be able to fully grasp grammar rules or pronunciation as well as someone who has been speaking two or more languages for most of their life. You might be interested in knowing the language spoken in the UK.

This means that someone who doesn’t speak any other language besides English would have what is called English Language Proficiency. Someone who speaks English as their only language would have native proficiency in English, and it can be said that English is their dominant language or called Natural language.

So, for someone who speaks only one other language besides English would have secondary proficiency in this second language.

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Do You Speak Your Primary Language First?

Have you ever thought about which language you speak first? Most people’s primary language is the language they first learned to communicate in or a language in which they have language experience. For some people, this is the language of their parents or caregivers.

For others, it might be the language spoken in their community. Some people learn multiple languages from a young age and have a choice of which one they use first.

The primary language a person speaks can influence their choice for language features, objects, and even the community they belong to. A person’s primary language is an important part of their identity.

Example of Countries and their Primary Language

  1. The United States has English as its dominant language, but there are also many Spanish speakers in coastal regions.
  2. Canada’s primary language is English, but there is a large French-speaking population in Quebec.
  3. In Mexico, Spanish is the dominant language, but there are also many native languages spoken in the country.
  4. Peru has two principal languages: Spanish and Quechua. Quechua is the native tongue of the Andean region, while Spanish is the national language spoken throughout the country.
  5. Germany’s primary language is Standard German (country of origin). Although German is widely spoken in Germany, it is not an official language in Austria and Switzerland.

Immigration Children and second language

Children born in the United States are often brought up with English as their first language, but this does not always hold true for children who immigrate from other countries (impact of language barriers in language community) Immigrant children often grow up speaking the native tongue of their country and learning English through immersion.

These children are bilingual because they can understand two languages; they speak one and they understand the other and of course, language tests can be conducted to find out the quality of nature of the language of the child.


What does a primary language mean?

A person’s primary language is the language that they are most comfortable communicating in. It is typically the first language that a person learns, and is often the dominant language in their environment. For many people, their primary language is also their native tongue.

What's my primary language?

Your primary language is the one that you learned first and is the most comfortable for you to use. It’s usually the language you dream in and think in when you’re not paying attention.

What are primary and secondary languages?

A person’s primary language is the language that they are most comfortable communicating in. A person’s secondary language is the language that they are second most comfortable communicating in.

Can I say English is my primary language?

Believe it or not, there have been quite a few United States presidents who spoke English as a second language. Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, was one of them. Roosevelt was born into a wealthy family and grew up speaking both French and German. He later learned Spanish while living in the Dominican Republic and then finally learned English when he returned to the States to attend college. By the time he became president, Roosevelt was proficient in seven languages!

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