Learning a foreign language is difficult. You have to do so many things: read and learn all the grammar rules, learn punctuation, pronunciation, and read a lot to extend your vocabulary. Doing these things is a sure way to learn a language very well because they make you aware of the rules and principles that are considered important by the native speakers of that language.
Another learning technique is speaking with native speakers. It is a legitimate technique that is considered to be one of the most important ones. This is because when the person is placed into an environment with natives, they do not have any other choice but to speak. This can be nerve wracking but also encouraging.
It is very easy to embarrass yourself when talking with a native speaker because you are only a student of that language. Therefore should you care to engage in such an interaction? Moreover, many language teachers say that the best way to learn a foreign language is to speak it. Is this a myth?
To understand why we should care to talk to native speakers, let’s explain the situation a little bit. Indeed, some language courses rush their students into speaking the foreign language because they think this is the best way to learn it. However, this is not the case, because speaking is an imitation of language. Think about it: when you speak your own native language, you do not make your own vocabulary or phrases, but rather you imitate others in learning and hearing your native language.
If you are surrounded by students who cannot speak as well as natives, you are likely not gaining any new vocabulary or skills because they are around the same language level as you. However, when you talk to native speakers, you have a great opportunity to learn a variety of useful phrases, sentences, structures, vocabulary, and tones to pronounce. The more you engage with native speakers, the more you learn.
This rule has been proven to be effective for many language learners. Akio Imahara, a Japanese-born writer at Pro essay writing, says that learning English was difficult in Japan. But when he moved with his family to Australia at age 17, he finally had a chance to interact with native speakers -- which accelerated his learning. Now, he has a Ph.D. from an Australian university and native proficiency of English, thanks to frequent interaction and learning from native speakers. Of course I am not saying this is the only reason but it is a contributing factor.
As a result, you end up with a huge new knowledge base that allows you to develop skills of building your own sentences in the foreign language. Moreover, you are able to take your fluency to another level by learning new grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, and other things. Furthermore, it is an exciting experience to talk with someone from the country of the language you are learning, because often you might be fascinated with the culture and traditions. Last but not least, a final advantage of interacting with native speakers is the opportunity to expose the gaps in your knowledge that you need to train further.
According to Long’s Interaction Hypothesis, communication with a native speaker of the language you are learning allows you to learn unconsciously, because we negotiate meaning. This hypothesis has been widely accepted since it was developed in the 1990s. Interaction is seen by many language experts as a primary means of knowledge acquisition and skill building.
How to Start?
A proper start is actually very important, because rushing into interaction with native speakers might leave you speechless. It’s possible you would so be impressed with their skills that you might think that keeping quiet and listening is a good idea. To ensure that you begin your interaction properly, we need to take it one step at a time.
The first step is to increase the input of the foreign language you are learning. This means that you should read, write, and watch as much as you can in your target language to ensure that you have a decent base of knowledge to begin and maintain a conversation. Of course, all those difficult grammar and punctuation rules should also be learned, so prepare for that as well. You can proceed to the second step as soon as you are sure that you can produce a decent amount of simple but one hundred percent correct sentences in your target language.
By the way, the first step can include native speakers as well. For example, you can find a native speaker on italki who wishes to interact via skype and start talking to them when you have some confidence. As a result, your foreign language input will be increased.
The second step is… speaking! We do not want to wait too long to interact. However, do not rush here, because your first sentences should be said slowly and carefully to avoid mistakes. With time, the speed of your speech will increase and you will be speaking like a native.
An interaction with native speakers of your target language is profoundly important because it introduces you to a new world full of new emotions and discoveries. You will find that the pronunciation patterns and overall mannerisms of speech are completely different, which is a great experience overall. However, being able to take advantage of such interactions require you to be very careful and prepared, because otherwise you can be embarrassed in front of the person you are conversing with. No one wants to take a long pause and then try to explain the forgotten word with a show of hands, right?
This article provided you with an excellent plan to increase your target language knowledge intake prior to engaging with a native speaker. By using this plan, you will be much more confident in your speaking abilities because of your knowledge base.
Discover a world of new languages and enjoy communicating with new people!