This sounds odd, but I just discovered that I might be suffering from an identity crisis... because I don't know what my first language is. I've been told to take a TOEFL test, even though I speak English as a first language (or so I think...). I'm a budding novelist of the English language as well. It strikes me odd - even insulting - to have to take a TOEFL test. I may not be White, but that doesn't give people the right to assume that 'I hava to talka in englisch lika dis' (no offense, that's just my frustration talking).

I was born in Singapore, but I was raised in Sydney. However, I currently do not possess an Australian citizenship (I've a lot of good reasons for that, but that's besides the point). My Singaporean parents taught me English and spoke in English (albeit not so good) since I was a toddler; nevertheless, I had been raised in an English speaking environment. I learnt Chinese shortly after 7 years old - attended classes in Mandarin Chinese for about 5 years. From time to time, I'd return to Singapore. I had even taken classes in Singapore for a few years too (but no, I can't speak Singlish to save my life).

To have to take a test in English as a FOREIGN language is really insulting. I don't think my Singaporean passport by birth says much about my English language ability. It's merely a piece of document; yet, I find it strange that it could dictate a huge part of my life, and especially, my identity. I can't speak Mandarin Chinese without stuttering or sounding like a fool; I can't read Mandarin Chinese well; I can't write well in Mandarin Chinese either. So, is Mandarin Chinese or Singlish (is that even a real language) my first language (even though I can't speak them well)? It's FASCINATING how a piece of document could undermine your language ability.

I'm writing a novel in English (I can't write in Singlish or Mandarin Chinese). I think in English. But what exactly is my native tongue? This question really does my head in! If anything, I'll take the iGCSE first language English (as a private candidate), just to prove a damn point!

Sorry about my rant! Emotion: smile
It sounds to me like the admissions person or whoever it is telling you to take the test is an absolute idiot. Singapore English is a very well-documented and established variety. Even if you were to use that particular variety's pronunciation and unique vocabulary and idioms, you'd still be a native speaker. Besides that, it's quite obvious from your post that you if anything speak/write in the Australian variety.

Maybe you should just call them (or their supervisor) and ask them (without saying who you are) which applicants are required to take an TOEFL. Then get them into a conversation, and after a few minutes, ask them, so...why do you want ME to take a TOEFL? I doubt you'd have a problem after that. Although, if they still require you to take one, perhaps you should recommend they themselves take a basic geography course so they can learn something about what countries speak what languages.
Hey thanks! I feel a little at ease. Some people have told me that English is not my native language, because my parents could not converse well in English when I was a kid. (Therefore, my native language should be 'broken English' or 'Singlish' (I'm sorry, but I really loathe that)). However, my parents were the ones who bought me alphabetic books, nursery rhymes and fairy tales in English. And despite their language skills, they were the ones who taught me the basics of English before I even set foot in nursery school (which was also in English). They would converse in Mandarin from time to time (or even resort to using Singlish), but they didn't hamper my acquisition of English as a first language. Ever since I was a kid, I encouraged myself to use English the way it was intended to be used. My parents even took conscientious care and effort to ensure that my English was good before nursery school.

Unfortunately, anyone holding a Singaporean passport is not waived from the English Language proficiency test/ TOEFL. It really hurts to know that I'm going to have to sit and pay extra for a test that undermines my ability to speak the English language. It somehow makes me feel worthless (being an English writer and whatnot), because I've been made to feel that I've no language which I can call 'native'.

Oh, and I see it fit to add this: I mainly talk to my parents in English (from time to time, and only when necessary (e.g. translating a document etc.), I'd use Mandarin Chinese (but that's rare, since I only speak basic Mandarin).
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
I m really envy you guys have the good environment to practise english in your family,as for me ,my parents have never speak english all the time ,the just say chinese,so i study englihs from one years ago,even though too late ,but i think i will be speaking prefect english in future,they say"it's never too late to learn",so i have a lot of confidence for that,the proble just is time.
If it's any consolation, Immigration Canada has decided to require the IELTS from all applicants, including British and American citizens.

This blog describes the experience of an Australian university professor in Canada. As he writes: "If I don't pass, it will turn out I am not recognisably proficient in any language!"
jovi88 Some people have told me that English is not my native language, because my parents could not converse well in English when I was a kid.
Just tell them that by their definition there would be preciously few native English speakers in the US. The majority of immigrants didn't speak English (but German, Polish, Italian etc.) so their kids couldn't have been native speakers by this definition, and neither grandchildren, and so forth.
I had quite the same problem when I was young. My father moved us around a lot for buisness purposes, so although I spoke only english at that time, I was unsure of where exactly I came from.
But back to your situation, if you were raised speaking English, then it IS your first language, and whoever tells you it is not is, although maybe unknowingly, being racist who doesn't fully understand how far back this problem goes.
Try out our live chat room.
English is probably your first language, but not your native tongue as you didn't learn it dandling on your mother's knee. Your native tongue is that which was spoken to you when you were in the cradle. It would have been the language you used to express your emotional self besides other things, the language in which you found comfort, the language in which your parents comforted you when you were upset. A true native speaker of english could cut it all up, and still be understood by other native speakers in his sprechbund. Well, you could have more than one native tongue... doesn't matter what other people say. As a native speaker of english, I really couldn't care less if I was told to take a test... would see it as some kind of looney quiz and have a shot at some reckless fun! Could always impress them. Emotion: wink