Language learning in the West—particularly English—is more intuitive than, perhaps, other parts of the world. Sure, every culture relies on intuitive application of language to speed comprehension but the subtleties of structure and formal grammar seems to elude many who learn English as their native tongue. In fact, many native Robotel language lab
English speakers do not really come to learn about grammar rules until the start to learn other languages, typically as part of the secondary education or college education curriculum.
As you could probably guess, your “native language” is the one that you first learned. Basically, everyone has a native language—if you were born in Spain that language would probably be Spanish; if you were born in France, though, that language could be either French or English.
Once in a while, though, you might also hear the term “domestic language.” This term is often used interchangeable with native language but can be used in another way. It should also be used when describing the native language of a particular region, a language that might not necessarily be the same as the country’s native tongue.
The term “first language” simply refers to whichever language you might learn first. This is usually the native language of whatever country where you were born, but that is not always the case. For example, in the United States, a child’s “first language” would likely be English but many children of immigrant families (particularly from Mexico and Latin America) have Spanish as their first language.
Obviously, a “second language” is one that you learn after you learn your first language. The term is more widely used to describe the learning of a local language after moving from your native region to another one. It is also commonly used when referring to a student learning a new language in school.
Speaking of students learning a language in school, anytime you attempt to learn a new language, that language will be “foreign” to you. Of course, the more you learn and use that language, the more closely it will resemble a “second language.” Indeed, “foreign language” refers to any language that you do not speak nor understand, for the most part.
Finally, a “world language” is any tongue commonly used and spoken throughout the world, especially when studied as a “second language”. Spanish, for one, is a world language because it is the official language of more than 12 countries.