You can call me a foreign English speaker or a non-native English speaker (although I think that by labelling someone a ‘non-native English speaker’ you set them apart from other English speakers!) , but all that really matters to me is that I’M AN ENGILSH SPEAKER. I don’t care if anybody sees my foreign background as a natural disadvantage when it comes to communicating with others in English because I know it very well that my spoken English is sufficient for the things I do on a daily basis. Well, I do have my ups and downs, but then which foreign English speaker doesn’t experience some fluency fluctuations?
Anyway, I am prepared to step it up a notch and make a really daring statement. Not only I think my foreign background isn’t a disadvantage; I also believe that by being a foreign English speaker I have an edge over ANY native English school teacher when it comes to understanding issues experienced by those who learn and improve their English ❗
And if you take into account I don’t hold any TEFL qualifications, I wouldn’t be surprised if you saw my claim on the border of outrageous. I mean – how can a chap who’s been struggling with spoken English up until a few years ago, say that he’s better than any professional native English teacher?
Keep reading this article and I’ll provide hard proof to back my claim!
Native English Teachers Can’t Possibly Know
What It’s Like To… Learn English As A Second Language!
I think people quite naturally assume that a native English speaker is the best person possible to teach you the English language. After all, only a native speaker is capable of knowing everything down to the very detail about the language, especially if they’re academically tutored, isn’t that right?
Yes, that’s right. But the whole argument of which English speaker has the edge – the native or the foreign one – ISN’T ABOUT WHO KNOWS MORE. Why, it’s not even about who’s the best English teacher in terms of how well one knows formal English grammar rules, syntax and whatnot! I’ve never claimed to be a teacher – I’ve reiterated it throughout my blog posts and videos that I advise my fellow foreigners on English fluency and spoken English improvement which is a whole new ball game.
I don’t deny that native English teachers at school, third level education or adult classes will provide you with brilliant content and if you’re diligent enough – you’ll build a massive vocabulary and learn to read and also speak and write by sticking words together and using English Grammar rules you’ve learnt.
They’ll be next to useless, however, with helping you build natural English fluency, understanding what mental issues you might be facing (such as getting tongue-tied, hesitation etc.), and most importantly – understanding what exactly is going on in your foreigner’s mind when you acquire English while being a native speaker of another language ❗
Have you ever heard native English school teachers – and indeed ANY English teachers for that matter! – teach students how to think in English, how to eliminate translation from the speech creation process, or how to drop the unnecessary 80% of all English Grammar and then incorporate the rest 20% of essential Grammar rules into their speech through learning spoken English patterns rather than hammering Grammar rules into their heads?
Native English speakers can’t possibly know what it feels like when your native language is constantly getting mixed with English when you try to speak, for instance. They can’t empathize with you when your mind is racing and you’re unwillingly preparing your speech before you speak the actual sentence out loud (which is a direct result of excessive focus on written English throughout English studies). And it’s very hard for native English school teachers to figure out, I suppose, that foreign English speakers won’t learn English to fluency if they simply copy the same English studies used for native English speakers.
Being a Foreign English Speaker Has Enabled Me
To See Through Popular Misconceptions
Any native English speaker learnt their mother’s tongue without writing or reading; academic studies only make their vocabulary richer and help developing other means of expression. For some reason everyone from the academic circles still seems to be convinced that if you sit down a foreigner at a school desk and make him cram new English words into his brain and then teach him grammar rules allowing to stick those words together, with enough diligence and effort he can become a fluent English speaker.
I, being a foreign English speaker and having gone through all sorts of English fluency issues, can easily see logical fallacy in this approach:
1. All native English speakers speak fluent English.
2. All native English speakers study English at school.
Conclusion: Studying English at school can make one into a fluent English speaker.
This argument is actually flawed because very few people realize that the two statements aren’t related at all! Yes, studying English at school will make native English speakers into BETTER speakers; however, to claim they speak fluent English because of school studies is to completely ignore the fact that the English language is already hardwired into any native speakers mind before they even start going to school!
By the way, here’s another popular misconception about learning and improving English:
1. All native English speakers speak fluent English.
2. All native English speakers have listened to how adults speak before starting to speak themselves.
Conclusion: If you want to speak fluent English, you must listen to the English language a lot because that’s what every native English speaking child has done.
Anyone who believes that listening plays the biggest role in acquiring a language is ignoring two things. First – children have no other option but to listen during the first months of their lives because they’re simply unable to replicate those sounds, words and phrases. Second – when they finally start speaking, it’s not because they’ve been listening to the language for a long time and it somehow retains itself in their brains. They’re simply big enough to start repeating what they hear!
Basically those English teachers who encourage foreigners to focus mostly on passive English immersion such as listening are assuming that they’re like small children, at least that’s how I see it.
I mean – is it really so difficult to make a connection between English fluency and SPEAKING A LOT, SPEAKING LOADS, SPEAKING WITH MISTAKES, SPEAKING UNTIL YOU REACH FLUENCY?
Understanding Leads To Realization Of The Right Methods
Understanding of how to develop real fluency and fix existing English fluency issues, my dear fellow foreigners (and also any native English speakers who might happen to read this blog post!), is why I have the edge when it comes to giving advice to foreigners about English fluency and spoken English improving methods.
In hindsight, I can see what caused my own problems with spoken English, and now I know what’s going on in other foreign English speakers’ minds when they struggle to speak English properly. I’ve been analyzing these issues thoroughly for years while spending countless hours on testing different speech techniques.
I’ve been forcing myself to speak as fast as I can – and it has worked on certain occasions but on some I’ve failed miserably. Why didn’t it always work? I’ve pondered on such and similar questions and as a result a set of different fluency management techniques were created. I’ve experimented with my foreign accent, I’ve analyzed other English speakers’ speech and most importantly – I’ve figured out that by imprinting natural English speech patterns in one’s mind foreign English speakers have the best chance of achieving English fluency.
This understanding (through overcoming the respective issues) of the very roots of different English fluency issues has enabled me to become an English fluency mentor, and it’s something no native English school teacher will ever have. I mean no offence, and to be fair – there are plenty of very professional and wise native English teachers around.
The point I’m making though, is that you have to be a foreigner born to understand HOW EXACTLY a struggling foreign English speaker feels, and I think no-one can argue with that! 😉
P.S. Would you like to find out why I’m highlighting some of the text in red? Read this article and you’ll learn why it’s so important to learn idiomatic expressions and how it will help you to improve your spoken English!
P.S.S. Are you serious about your spoken English improvement? Check out my English Harmony System HERE!