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Dawei Zhijiage
Are native speakers always the best options to language learning


On this youtube video, a well known polyglot thinks learning from a native speaker can be over rated. My personal belief is because of time differences and time constraints, only practicing to speak once a week when you can meet with a language partner is the best way.


check out the second youtube video showing two black girls practing their Chinese together.


Can a student improve their language learning even without the help of a native speakers's input and rememeber, native speakers know more than the foreigner (generally speaking) but they don't know everything either, even if they pretend to know it all.



Jan 7, 2015 12:59 PM
Comments · 29

I can't disagree with this more. I mean, if you have no other option, sure, find a way to practice but otherwise it's a bad idea, you're just reinforcing erratic speech patterns and intonations. It's harder to correct wrong stuff than to learn things right first time.


This doesn't mean non-native speakers can't get to a level where they're useful as teachers, but it takes a very long time and a lot of effort. I mean Dashan kind of effort. I wouldn't take a lot of advice from other non-natives.


And yes, I do agree that in many cases native speakers don't necessarily know how to explain the grammar. So in terms of grammar non-native speakers with the same base language are actually helpful. But for active conversion they aren't.

January 10, 2015

I've never tried learning with a non-native Chinese speaker, just because there are so few of them! David, have you found anyone to practice with? How is it going? BTW, how to you usually chat with language partners: QQ, Skype, Wechat, something else? I have been having tons of problems with the connection lately: choppy sound, dropped calls, etc. What do you think is the best way to minimize this?

January 8, 2015

The polyglot from the youtube video said, learning from a native speaker is over-rated, and I tend to agree. The term over-rated doesn't mean, learning from a native speaker has "no value". It just means we place too much value on it.


Let me quote the famous Chinese scholar: 孔子曰:三人行必有我师焉。 This means we can learn from anyone. Confuscious didn't say we can only learn from a native speaker.

January 12, 2015

No person in the history of the world has ever learned a language from listening to music or watching TV shows. If you think you have, then you are ignoring already attained knowledge about the language that you possessed before you choose this method. There are too many distractions in movies, TV shows and music to really grasp the essence of a langauge.


And people are fond of saying, it's going to be more difficult if you follow path A versus path B. People who are successful with anything in life, do not focus on the degree of difficulty. They focus on the desire to achieve the end result. Don't believe for a second that all of the things you tried with learning a foreign language were correct, and do not believe that these wrong choices hindered you from learning. The most successful people rely on failure as a means to succeed.


If you add up all your time that you spent learning Chinese and you divided that time into time learning with a native speaker and learning without ... you will find that your time with native speaker is less than 5% ... so it is absolutely not true that a native speaker is a prequisitite for learning a language. Most foreigners who live in America today, did not learn to speak English from coversing with a native speaker. 


Those are the facts.

January 11, 2015

You haven't really addressed my main point of concern though. I think at this point very few 20+ year olds have spent enough time in China to call themselves near-native. Under those circumstances it's just fooling yourself if you think having conversations with them helps you improve.


I'm not trying to be a party pooper, it's just that I wonder. How much do you expect to learn? If they make a suggestion how are you sure they're suggestion is right? Or do you just learn something from someone who has barely grasped this something? 


Again, I'd you have no other option, by all means, try whatever is necessary. But just because there are bad native teachers doesn't mean a non-native teacher is better. Basics can be taught, but you need that extra thing, that feeling for the language. Where two conflicting grammar rules are easily distinguished just by native feeling for the language. Where, when something sounds off, it is noticed and not internalized.

January 10, 2015
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Dawei Zhijiage
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)