This is the dream for any language learner: to be able to travel to a country and speak to the people as though you were from that country yourself. But what does it take to get to this level? How can you come to speak like a native speaker?
Sadly, this process does not happen overnight, rather it that takes a considerable amount of time, often years, to achieve a truly native level.
Although there are many different ways it can happen, this article will break the process down into the 3 main stages, to give you the best chance of reaching this level yourself.
Stage 1 – Perfect the basics
The first and most obvious stage to mastering a language is perfecting the basics.
You need to be completely comfortable with the grammar of the language and be able to use as well as to understand even the most complex of lexical structures.
Though it is certainly not the case for all (or perhaps not even for most) native speakers of any given language to have a perfect understanding of grammar, they are able to make themselves understood in different ways.
For those studying a language as a foreigner, the best way to learn things is the correct way, and this means having a firm grasp on the grammar to give your learning a solid base.
Another aspect of perfecting the basics is expanding your vocabulary from hundreds of words to thousands. This is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of language learning and can only be achieved one way: hard work.
Stage 2 – Sound like a native
It’s all very well mastering the grammar and amassing a vast vocabulary, but you’ll be spotted as a non-native speaker straight away if the moment you open your mouth, you start pronouncing things wrong.
Pronunciation is often the best indication of a person’s language level and if yours isn’t clear then it will affect people’s impression of your proficiency. The best way to improve your pronunciation is by listening to as much of the language as possible, and then by practicing, ideally with someone who can correct you, in order to improve.
Every country has many different accents depending on the region, the key thing is making sure that you are familiar with the sounds so that you are confident pronouncing any word you see. Don’t worry if you don’t have the perfect ‘traditional’ accent, not many people do!
Stage 3 – Interact with the culture
This is the final stage of learning a language and by far the most complex, for the simple reason that there is no clear path here.
There will be never be a point when you’ve completed this stage; instead it is a process of constant learning and improving.
Interacting with a language’s culture means not just knowing about its history and visiting its famous sites, but also reading its magazines, watching its films and tv shows, and following its sports.
It’s a matter of knowing and understanding what people are talking about, not from a linguistic perspective, but from an awareness perspective.
This also extends to noticing what topics of conversation people like to talk about. For example, in the UK strangers will often talk to each other about the weather; don’t be surprised if someone on the tube smiles at you and tells you that it’s supposed to be sunny next week – that’s just a Brit trying to make conversation!
The final aspect of interacting with the culture, and perhaps the most important, is adapting to a country’s humour. Every country has its own distinct type of humour, and once you can develop a sense of humour in a foreign language, then you’re the pretty much there.
So, there you have it: the three stages to speaking like a native in a foreign language.
It should be noted, however, that the common theme amongst all three stages, and particularly the final two, is that they can only really be achieved through immersion into the language.
Even if you’re studying for 12 hours a day, complete immersion is impossible to achieve outside of the country itself. Traveling to the country and spending time there is the only way to follow these 3 stages, so if you want to learn to speak like a native then start your journey by booking your trip with Klazz.