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A little background: My name is Nick, and I moved to the United States about three years ago. Since my arrival, I have devoted myself to learn and understand as much English as possible--including grammar, pronunciations, punctuation, etc. In doing so, I completely neglected my native tongue, Greek. So, basically, I learned English at the expense of my native tongue. Now, I want to change that by going back and starting from where I had left, possibly raising it to the same level. Right now, I consider myself as bilingual because I am able to process all the information in both languages, without having to translate. When I am outside the house, I speak in English, think in English, and write in English. However, when I am with my family, I switch to Greek.

In an effort to improve my Greek, I noticed the following:

  • I use different terminology to explain and understand concepts. Sometimes I might have to re-learn a concept in Greek, in order to understand it completely.
  • When it comes to academic words, I do not have a translation for Greek (same works vice-versa)
  • I tend to be more rational when I think in English than in my native tongue

My question is the following: Since the two languages are now separate from each other, how should I approach learning Greek, while also continuing learning English? Should I translate new words and memorize both definitions, or should I approach each language differently by learning the definitions in that language?

I would love to expand on this problem that I am facing, but this confusion does't let me demonstrate my point clearly.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    Welcome to Language Learning Stack Exchange! Thanks so much for being willing to contribute to our community. This is a great first question. In essence, it sounds like you're asking how to maintain your native language, which, not being fully bilingual myself, I unfortunately won't be able to answer well myself (not from personal experience, that is). Good thing we have some other really capable members around here. Crossing my fingers one of them will show up. :) – Hatchet Feb 24 '17 at 0:19
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Great first question. From your the text in your question as well as your experience with English, I'd say you're near a native-level fluency in English, meaning you should no longer need to actively learn new vocabulary in English. At this point in the language acquisition process, passive learning of English should be sufficient; seeing as how you use English in nearly all aspects of your life, you'll become more proficient in it naturally, without any real effort.

However, your proficiency in Greek is a different story. Your situation should be fairly well covered by this question. I'll provide a short summary of its contents here. Essentially, (and I'm assuming Greek was your first language), talk to yourself in Greek when you're alone. If you already have had some significant exposure to the language, simply set some time each day for reading in Greek. Reexpose yourself to the language more and more, gradually. Try spending more time with your family and communicating with them in Greek, and immerse yourself in Greek film or music.

If you don't have a significant basis in Greek already, I'd recommend using the Duolingo course for Greek to help strengthen your basic vocabulary, as well as perhaps investing in Greek textbooks to help work on your grammar.

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