When it comes to learning a foreign language, all methods can be justified. The main condition behind foreign language acquisition is constant practice, which will include all basic activities, such as writing, listening, reading and, above all, speaking.
The importance of a speaking skill in language learning is undeniable. This is the most interactive way to put your knowledge to practice. Not only to exercise your vocabulary, but to also practice your pronunciation skills and your ability to listen and understand your communication partner.
The best way to practice your speaking skills is to find an opportunity to communicate with a native speaker. This is not just a great chance to build new acquaintances but also a great opportunity to improve the knowledge of a foreign language.
Let’s dive a little bit deeper and investigate several key reasons it is crucially important to talk with a native speaker and in what ways it can benefit the knowledge of a new language.
Reason #1: Practicing the accent and correct pronunciation
When studying a foreign language in a classroom setting, you probably got some introduction to the pronunciation and phonetics. But classroom instruction cannot provide a learner with a sufficient opportunity to perfectly practice pronunciation.
There’s a so-called vernacular (or a breezy, modern language), and classroom instruction of a foreign language definitely lacks it. The effects of a vernacular can be experienced only in conversation with a native speaker, as you get an opportunity to listen to and imitate the accent and learn the correct pronunciation.
The strategy that a learner should use in this case is called “shadowing”. Marla Yoshida, an English and foreign language teacher at the University of California, says that students who learn a foreign language should pay attention to the details that are important to the native speakers, or in other words, “shadow” them. These details include not only pronouncing the words correctly but also using pauses and intonation, which is often omitted in a classroom instruction.
Reason #2: Improving other related skills
Communicating with a native speaker also benefits your writing, reading and, obviously, listening skills. When talking to a native speaker, you get a chance to learn new words, ask for assistance if something is unclear and get help in understanding some concepts that may be completely alien to your native language and culture.
Regular communication with a native speaker will definitely enrich your knowledge of a new language and to better understand what is said to you and successfully decode the meaning of written text.
Reason #3: Learning the culture
When communicating with a native speaker, not only will you get the chance to learn how to perfect your accent and improve language learning skills, but you’ll also get a chance to find out more about the foreign culture.
Experts say that the importance of culture in learning a foreign language is crucial. It contributes to a learner’s cultural awareness, expands the outlook, benefits communicative competence and enables the cross-cultural dialog.
Classroom instruction does include some lessons specifically dedicated to cultural studies, but this way you only learn about the culture passively. When communicating with a native speaker, you get a chance to dive into this culture and ask a person who lives in this culture every day to explain some specifics to you.
The three reasons listed above are crucially important to a language learner if he or she wishes to acquire the language and be more fluent in it. But while communicating with a native speaker, you may get confused or even scared, and lose an opportunity for an amazing experience. Here are three tips to remember when communicating with a native speaker:
- Experiencing a language barrier is normal. The first rule is: try not to freak our then talking to a native speaker. Your emotions will get in the way of switching on the ability to think properly, thus, there’s a chance that you may forget everything you’ve learned. Try to stay calm: no one will judge you if you don’t know something.
- Let them know that you’re learning. Be honest upfront: let your speaking partner know that you are learning his/her native language. This way they will be more apt to be more supportive and eagerly assist you with anything you would like to learn.
- Be confident. When talking to a native speaker you should express confidence and composure. No one takes a person seriously if their body language is too emotional and nervous. Don’t be afraid to forget something: you’ll get plenty of opportunities to continue to practice words and conversations which will only help increase the chances you will memorize them more effectively.
So, don’t miss the chance to talk to a native speaker because who knows the culture and language better than a native, right?