So here is something I’m sometimes worried about. English is not my first language. I was born and grew up mostly in Germany. There you started learning English in fifth grade, which in Germany means that you start at about age 10. At least that was the case when I was in school. I had a pretty rigorous English teacher, and my school also happen to have exchange programs with England. So I actually did get the chance to spend a lot of time around English-speaking people. Still it’s not my first language. I sometimes worry when I have to write the bio section of my query letters. I usually leave out that I was not born in an English-speaking country. I feel as though the fact that English isn’t my mother tongue might count against me somehow. Every now and again I’ll see on Twitter that an agent turned down something because there was a problem with the language..
Now I don’t think I have a language problem. I’ve lived in the United States for 10 years, and before that I lived in England for about three years and Israel before that. I’ve spoken English most of my adult life I speak it every day all day, I write English, and I even dream in English. If anything I sometimes have problems with the German language!
I actually find the English language easier to write in. When I started out I wrote in German, some poems and a couple of short stories, but I never could quite express myself in German. English always seemed like a more natural language to me. In fact when I was in high school my English teacher recommended that I take up French, because he thought that I had a talent for languages. As it turned out I apparently had a talent for English only because I lasted just two years in the French class before they moved me over to home economics !
Despite all of this I still don’t really like including that I was born in Germany in query letters. I don’t know if it makes a difference either way, but I feel self-conscious about it. In the end of the day I guess, as always, it’s best to just let the writing speak for self.