During the last weeks, I read a long list of articles and watched carefully at least ten videos on YouTube with best advices for getting fluency and effortlessness in oral communication (“Learn to speak English like a native,” for example). I will not argue with their authors, but I have to get rid of my frustration.
'Try to sound like a native!’
Mostly, there follow long lists with life-rescuing hints which will surely make my speech understandable and effortless. But what is a ‘native’? Is it the one who encounters me on a market? Is it the taxi driver whose ‘foreign’ accent I immediately recognize after the first two seconds? Is it the Canadian woman which I met on the beach currently? Or ...?
Yes, I agree. Idioms are wonderful 'colors' of language and the 'spice' of each speech IF I have them at hand at the right time, which means to catch them within a fraction of a second.
'Try to think like a native!'
It means: Do not think in your own language and translate your thoughts in a strenuous manner. 'Think in the target language!' Wonderful advice! It might function by living and working in a foreign country for longer time. But who can enjoy this advantage? -- ‘Ordinary’ people study five to eight semesters or longer, develop a certain fluency in speaking and writing about many ‘academic’ topics and are often not able to communicate about the simplest things of daily life (like me). I exaggerate a little bit, I know, and I beg your pardon…
‘Don’t worry about grammar!’
Great!!! As long as I have to ponder about the using of the proper tense and the right word order, I cannot speak automatically. The only way out would be to learn 300 to 500 sentences and to repeat them like a parrot, a language computer or the friendly voice of a call center who always asks “Please, hold the line!” in a perfect English. But this would nothing have to do with communication...
‘Take care for your pronunciation!’
‘You can buy some nice lessons, and you will speak like an American/Brit within 30 days!’ -- Yes! Right! Wonderful! But unfortunately a little bit illusory! Years ago, I attended an intensive conversation course for a big chunk of money. It was very interesting, inspiring and exhausting. Then I drove back in my country and had to speak only with my German countrymen. Once a week I am enjoying the participation in an English course. If I have some good fortune, I am able to speak ten or twenty sentences during an hour.
the list of my laments: My way is focused on a long and patient way of daily
learning. The very
pleasant side effect is that I find here EVERY DAY some interesting contributions
and helpful people. So I feel the need to thank the authors of very inspiring articles
that I could read here and that are balm on my poor English-learner soul. :-)))