Once you make the decision to improve your English, the big question is whether to learn with a native speaker or not. While any conversation in English is good, it is important to watch out for mistakes that non-natives are likely to make, and which you could potentially take on. However, practicing your English with someone with a strong command of English is a winner, and at Live-English we have a selection of native English speakers with some of the best accents for you from which to take your pick.
So, what is a native English speaker?
Well, according to Alan Davies, Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, a native speaker is:
- Someone who has acquired English during childhood;
- Someone with the ability to understand and accurately produce idiomatic forms of English ;
- Someone with understanding of how standard forms of English differ from what they themselves speak;
- Someone with full comprehension of fluent, spontaneous discourse.
The native English speaker as your teacher
As all Live-English teachers are native speakers, you will be exposed to a wide range of idioms, dialect, slang and a generally more extensive vocabulary than with a non-native speaker. Bear in mind however, that while too much slang is never recommended, it can help you to understand what your conversation is about. Conversation with a native speaker will give you an insight into the culture of English speaking countries as well as the teacher’s opinion on traditions and local norms. Native speakers are well versed in all sorts of English language subjects and as such can make your learning experience very rich with a wide variety of vocabulary and topics.
A native English speaker will teach the language in a more dynamic way with less emphasis on grammar and other more tedious subjects. However, the most important aspect of conversation with a native speaker is the correct pronunciation that you will learn and of course a native accent. What could be better than learning to speak English with an Australian or Scottish accent?!
At the end of the day the most important characteristic of your native English teacher is his or her passion for teaching. Passion is contagious and makes the student more excited about learning, which in turn causes the lesson to become something fun. Many native English teachers have chosen to teach because they are passionate about sharing their knowledge and have a love of the language. Learning from someone who so clearly loves what he or she does certainly makes the learning process more enjoyable.
What are your thoughts and experiences? How has your English learning so far been affected by your teacher, whether native or non-native? I can say that as a mother to children learning English as a second language, their exposure to non-native English teachers has caused them much frustration when they have been taught the wrong pronunciation, which we have spent many hours laughing about at home!
Discourse –noun written or spoken communication or debate.
Dynamic – adjective constant change, activity, or progress.
Emeritus –adjective the former or retired holder of an office, especially a college professor allowed to keep their title as an honor.
Idiomatic– adjective using expressions that are natural to a native speaker.
Potentially – adverb with the capacity to happen in the future.