Saim wrote:Exactly. I know Serbian baby-talk, birthday songs and other elements of the language that are obscure for even most advanced learners, but I've had to approach formal Serbian (news, academic texts, etc.) as if it were a foreign language. It's hard to explain to someone who's not in that situation, but it's rotally different to a real "foreign language", and not just for identity reasons.
It's not that difficult to understand if you've heard heritage speakers speak, whether it's your own language or a foreign language you already know well enough to be able to judge. E.g. there were two part-French girls in one French course I took. Both had obviously grown up with the language, but whereas the one seemed to speak it just fine as far as I could tell, the other one was speaking extremely fast and colloquial on the one hand (too colloquial, actually, she got some "friendly" corrections for that), while searching for words forever at other times. Usually, she didn't participate much, but when our teacher asked us how certain things in France are, she usually was the only one who could answer this which meant that often, she'd be asked straight away. Sure, that's cultural knowledge, but a certain linguistic knowledge comes with that, too. She did grow up with that language and culture after all, even if not fully.
Relatives of mine used to live in France and when they moved back to Germany, they were worried that their kids might have problems at school because they only had received their education in French until then. They spoke only German at home (even the siblings among each other), but yet they were worried. Had they grown up in Germany until then, that wouldn't have been an issue. They definitely were native speakers even then, but not at the same level as anyone growing up in Germany would have been.