Speaking like a native

I was speaking with an Austrian friend recently and we were discussing the various approaches to language learning. He is mostly self-taught, but he relies on his many international friends to correct and improve his linguistic prowess. With his access to foreign-language speakers and daily opportunities to speak English (as the lingua-franca of the international business in which he works) he has plenty of language immersion, much of it with native speakers.

And this is the key to rapid progress: speaking with a native speaker of your target language remains the best way to learn.

With his keen linguistic abilities and his daily contact with native speakers, my friend is in a much better place than most of us to learn. Because, despite all the great on-line resources that exist in today’s virtual and social worlds, short of living in a country where your target language is spoken, nothing beats classroom-based (or one-on-one) learning with a native speaker.

Pronunciation, cultural awareness, insights into which vocabulary or expressions are appropriate for different situations, and up-to-date opinion on current language – especially important given the speed of linguistic change in today’s globally connected societies – are all best handled by native speakers.

Native speakers will also be able to offer advice and insights into regional and national variations. For example, take something my Austrian friend might say: “Gemma bo’n?”

It means ‘Would you like to go bathing with me?’ (in the sense of schwimmen – not taking a bath). The correct German would be: “Wollen wir baden gehen?” But, in the part of Austria in which he lives, no one would speak that way.

The original Austrian phrase comes from: Gemma (short for Gehn ma; taking the place of Gehen wir) + bo’n (short for bodn; baden in the local dialect). Literally translated, then, it means “Go we bathing?” But even for an advanced German learner, this might be difficult to see. And this is where the knowledge of a native speaker becomes invaluable…

There are so many examples we could have used here, in so many languages or contexts, this is merely one that springs to mind. The insight a native speaker can bring to your language learning is important to us for many reasons, not least enthusiasm. But it is the ‘insider knowledge’ they bring which is key to your success in your target language.

That’s why all All Languages tutors, translators, and interpreters are native speakers of the target language. That’s why all All Languages Ltd language classes are taught by native speakers of the target language. We believe it’s the only way to learn. And that’s one of the reasons your language acquisition progresses so quickly when you take one of our courses.

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