*This symbol means refer to the end of the article.
Say it in your own words
How often have you heard people say to you: "Say it in your own words." I know this is not meant to be taken literally. It's just an expression.
Wouldn't it be great if we had the time to create our own language. I suppose then it would be more accurate to say that the words that we had created were our own*.
However, before I continue writing, you may not even know what the adjective "own" means here. It just means words that belong to you.
The phrase really means that you say the words in your own way, using your own style. However, sometimes we can't avoid sounding like someone else, especially if we speak the same language. And I'm only talking about native speakers here.
It's another story altogether when we're asked to say something "in our own words" in the foreign language that we're learning.
The Motivation for Writing this Article
One day, a few years ago, I was having a Spanish lesson online when my brilliant Spanish teacher challenged* me. I can't remember the topic of the lesson or why she asked:
"Michele, cuéntame en tus propias palabras." - "Michele, tell me in your own words."
I had no idea what to say. My mind was BLANK. I thought: "Spanish words are not my words. I wish they were."
This experience marked a turning point* in my Spanish studies. I decided there and then * that this was the teacher who was going to help me acquire the necessary skills to communicate well in Spanish. She challenged me to increase my vocabulary so that I could eventually explain the meaning of something in my own words, albeit* in Spanish. I'm still studying Spanish with her.
A guide on how to own the language that you are learning
I imagine you being quite confused when you look at the above statement. In your native language you might say:
"There's the word "own" again. It just doesn't look right being used as an adjective."
Tricked* you! Here the word own is used as a verb. It means - to have as one's own, to possess. (You can see more about this in the notes at the end of the article.)
You may now be saying in your native language, "English words are not my own."
I suppose we all wish that the foreign language we are learning would enter our subconsciousness and dreams. Then we could really feel that we owned it.
Some Notes Vocabulary, Grammar and Phrases used in the Article
own (adjective) & own (verb) are homonyms. Homonyms are two words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings.
turning point - a point in time where a dramatic change occurs, especially one with beneficial results
motivate - provide someone with a reason for doing something
there and then (expression) - immediately
albeit (conjunction) - though
to trick (verb) - a scheme or a trick (noun) intended to outsmart someone / to get an advantage over someone
Thank you for reading my article. I hope it wasn't too challenging. If you have time, read it again. I encourage you to look up words in the dictionary.
If you have found this article helpful, you may think about booking a lesson or lessons with me.