Jan 1, 2016
Episode transcript below:
Hey, awesome Go Natural English Learner! What’s up? How are you doing?
I get a question several times… I’ve gotten this question so many times: should I learn English with a native speaker or is it okay to learn with a non-native speaker? So, there’s a lot of pros and cons. And I realize that, depending on where you live, depending on your budget, depending on a lot of things, you might be looking at a native versus a non-native English speaking teacher. So I want to share with you my viewpoint. You know I’m a native English speaker; I’m from the United States; I’m a trained teacher. And one of the main points here is: regardless of if your teacher is a native or non-native speaker, you have to realize the difference, first of all, between a teacher and a conversation partner.
So this could be a-whole-nother episode. But a teacher is someone who is trained to teach you the English language. So this teacher knows how to explain if you have a question about a specific grammar point or how to express yourself clearly; that person knows the answer, or they know how to quickly find the answer for you. They’re trained. Whereas a conversation partner is someone who’s willing to chat with you, they’re willing to practice, but you should not go to them with specific grammar questions or things that you might learn better from a teacher who can explain to you. A conversation partner is really more beneficial for practicing the things that you learn with a teacher, or perhaps things that you learn on your own. And we know practice makes perfect, and it’s really important to do both, to learn new things and then to practice them.
But anyway, let’s talk about the question at hand: should we learn with a native English speaker, or a non-native English speaker? And I welcome your comments and your opinion, what you think, what is best for you.
But here’s what I think: Let’s start with native English speakers. So, what’s good about working with a native English speaker? Well, clearly, we have a huge repertoire of vocabulary, idioms, phrases. We’ve been using English our whole lives, right, as native speakers, and so we’ve learned English through school, through social settings, with family, through our professional lives: in many different ways, many different settings. So, a native speaker will be able to help you, especially if you’re at an advanced level and you need to learn a lot of vocabulary.
Also, a native English speaker should have near-perfect pronunciation. What is perfect pronunciation? Well, maybe there’s no such thing as “perfect” but you want to have someone who shows you a clear way to say words. There are different ways to say words, depending on where we’re from. So you could learn the perfect American pronunciation, or the perfect British pronunciation, or the perfect Australian, or the perfect Kiwi or the perfect South African – or many different countries where we speak English as the official language. So what is perfect for you? I think being able to say a word clearly so that basically anyone can understand it – that’s perfect. So, if you learn with a native speaker, they’re going to be more confident; you may be more confident in learning pronunciation from that person.
Also, it’s not just about pronunciation. It’s about rhythm; it’s about intonation; it’s about stress. Sometimes the little things, that are not so little, they really make a huge impact on your English communication skills. So, learning with a native can be really important.
And I get another question that’s related; I get this a lot: which kind of English should I learn? Should I learn British English, should I learn American English? Well, I think the best thing is to choose one and go with it. After you develop your confidence in one kind of English, one region of English,