#128 - Native Speakers Only

February 23, 2022

The only way to improve your English is by practicing with native English speakers... or is it?

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about the idea that you need to be talking to native English speakers if you want to become fluent and whether it's true or not. Spoiler alert, it's not true. But keep listening to hear me talk all about it. Roll the intro.

[00:00:25] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:47] Now, I want to start this episode by giving a big shout-out to my man, Daniel Pérez. He's one of our biggest supporters and most active people in the Life in English community, always trying to make new members feel welcome, encouraging them to speak and express themselves. So Daniel, thank you so much for being a part of the community. He was actually the first one to join the community, by the way. You know? The very first member of the Life in English community and hopefully the first of many more to come.

[00:01:16] But anyway, let's get to the meat and potatoes or the real idea, the real content of this episode. You know, a lot of people around the world believe the only way to improve their English is by speaking with native English speakers. They refuse to practice their English with people from another country or with other non-native speakers. Now, obviously, if you're one of these people and that's what you believe, you have every right to believe that. But let me challenge you to think about a few things, and maybe you'll see that this mentality could be slowing you down on your journey.

[00:01:47] So the first thing I want you to consider is that natives generally have less time than other English learners. The number of people around the world who are learning English as a foreign language is staggering. We're talking hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of people. But what about the amount of English speakers actively trying to learn a foreign language? I really don't know what the number is, but in my experience here in the U.S., it's relatively low. So what does that mean? That means that there's a high demand for native English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange with someone who speaks a foreign language. Why? Because the supply of this type of person is so low. There simply are not enough native speakers or native English speakers for everyone.

[00:02:33] And there's a low demand for non-English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange. Why? Because there are over a billion of them. There's enough supply for every native English speaker on this planet to have a native language exchange partner. So what are you left with? The relatively few native speakers who are not only interested in learning your language but also have the time, energy, patience, and dedication to learn and practice with you consistently over months or years of time. The number of people who fit into that category is discouragingly low.

[00:03:10] Then you have private English teachers who will give you weekly classes in exchange for an hourly fee. Right? But most people can't afford to pay a private teacher every week for many reasons. They don't make enough money or their national currency is much weaker than the currency in most English-speaking countries. Or maybe they just can't find a teacher they identify with. So if we go back to my initial statement, there are a lot more people learning English than there are native English speakers learning a foreign language. And of that group of English speakers learning a foreign language, they're all learning different foreign languages, which just lowers the chances that you'll find one to practice with you on a regular basis.

[00:03:47] Now, think about that group of people learning English. That group of over one billion people. You got to think at least 1% of that group speaks the same language as you, or has the same schedule as you or has the same interests as you, or has the same desire to learn English that you have. We all know how difficult it can be to find a quality language exchange partner. So all I'm saying is that you might be making it even harder by refusing to practice your English with non-native speakers. So the second thing I want you to consider is that everyone knows something you don't. To think that you can only learn new things about English from native English speakers is the same thing as thinking you can only learn how to play soccer by studying with someone who has been playing since the day they were born. To think that you can only learn things from a teacher is fine. That's a valid opinion. But we've got to remember, everyone is a teacher. Men, women, adults, children, bus drivers, artists, politicians, librarians, they're all teachers.

[00:04:52] And what exactly is the teacher anyway? It's someone who has the necessary experience, time, and patience to help you learn something new and that can literally be any one of us. Do all of us learn how to cook in a school with instructors? No, our parents teach us or we learn by experimenting. Nowadays, you can actually go find tutorials online for free from regular people like you and me. And do all of us learn how to fight with professional MMA instructors? No, most people learn fighting at school or in the streets. And even the best, most experienced fighters get knocked on their ass from time to time. Do you think they don't have more to learn? And who are they going to learn it from if they're the best? Do all of us learn how to have sex by taking some course with a licensed professional? No, of course not. Most of us learn by watching other people have sex and then experimenting with our partners. Right?

[00:05:49] Now, maybe these aren't the best examples, but hopefully, you can see my point. So many of the skills you have at your disposal were not taught to you by some licensed professional with decades of experience. They were taught to you by someone who simply had more experience than you. And it's the same for language. There are plenty of native English speakers who don't speak perfect or grammatically correct English, and there are plenty of natives who couldn't explain how things work in their language. But there are a bunch of non-natives who can, and some of them speak your native language. So don't underestimate the power of learning from other students, because sometimes they understand you more than your teachers do. And approaching people with the mindset that you have absolutely nothing to learn from them will only guarantee that you learn absolutely nothing from anyone.

[00:06:36] So the third and final thing I want you to consider is that in reality, in real life, you're going to be speaking English with all kinds of people, not just native speakers. And we've already talked about the fact that there are over one billion people learning English as a foreign language or as a second language. There are more people learning English than there are native English speakers. That means eventually you'll find yourself in a situation where someone who speaks English as a foreign language with an accent completely different from yours or mine, and you'll still need to be able to communicate with this person. And how do we learn to understand certain accents or dialects? We listen to them. A lot. We talk to people who use that accent or dialect a lot.

[00:07:27] So another important reason to practice your English with non-native speakers is because your chances of having to communicate with them are so high. Even in an English-speaking country, there are typically hundreds of thousands or in the case of the U.S., millions of people who speak English as a second language. And you need to be able to understand them just as much as you need to understand a native speaker. Right? And this also gives you a chance to get exposed to different cultures and ways of life while you're improving your English. You can end up making friends all over the world because you all speak this language that unites you. You know? And there's really no telling where that connection could go.

[00:08:04] So if you're one of those people that believe you should only practice your English with native English speakers, what do you think after hearing this episode? I hope that you can at least see the reason in what I'm saying. The idea that you can only learn with natives or professionals is simply false, and it'll keep you from making not only progress but possibly friends and money as well. So I hope this message serves as an inspiration for you to get out there and find some language exchange partners to practice your English with, even if those partners are not native speakers

[00:08:36] Now, if you'd like to join a growing community of quality language exchange partners, then I strongly recommend you consider joining the Life in English community. As a member, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher and his dream of making the world a better place through creative education. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed the episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about the idea that you need to be talking to native English speakers if you want to become fluent and whether it's true or not. Spoiler alert, it's not true. But keep listening to hear me talk all about it. Roll the intro.

[00:00:25] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:47] Now, I want to start this episode by giving a big shout-out to my man, Daniel Pérez. He's one of our biggest supporters and most active people in the Life in English community, always trying to make new members feel welcome, encouraging them to speak and express themselves. So Daniel, thank you so much for being a part of the community. He was actually the first one to join the community, by the way. You know? The very first member of the Life in English community and hopefully the first of many more to come.

[00:01:16] But anyway, let's get to the meat and potatoes or the real idea, the real content of this episode. You know, a lot of people around the world believe the only way to improve their English is by speaking with native English speakers. They refuse to practice their English with people from another country or with other non-native speakers. Now, obviously, if you're one of these people and that's what you believe, you have every right to believe that. But let me challenge you to think about a few things, and maybe you'll see that this mentality could be slowing you down on your journey.

[00:01:47] So the first thing I want you to consider is that natives generally have less time than other English learners. The number of people around the world who are learning English as a foreign language is staggering. We're talking hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of people. But what about the amount of English speakers actively trying to learn a foreign language? I really don't know what the number is, but in my experience here in the U.S., it's relatively low. So what does that mean? That means that there's a high demand for native English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange with someone who speaks a foreign language. Why? Because the supply of this type of person is so low. There simply are not enough native speakers or native English speakers for everyone.

[00:02:33] And there's a low demand for non-English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange. Why? Because there are over a billion of them. There's enough supply for every native English speaker on this planet to have a native language exchange partner. So what are you left with? The relatively few native speakers who are not only interested in learning your language but also have the time, energy, patience, and dedication to learn and practice with you consistently over months or years of time. The number of people who fit into that category is discouragingly low.

[00:03:10] Then you have private English teachers who will give you weekly classes in exchange for an hourly fee. Right? But most people can't afford to pay a private teacher every week for many reasons. They don't make enough money or their national currency is much weaker than the currency in most English-speaking countries. Or maybe they just can't find a teacher they identify with. So if we go back to my initial statement, there are a lot more people learning English than there are native English speakers learning a foreign language. And of that group of English speakers learning a foreign language, they're all learning different foreign languages, which just lowers the chances that you'll find one to practice with you on a regular basis.

[00:03:47] Now, think about that group of people learning English. That group of over one billion people. You got to think at least 1% of that group speaks the same language as you, or has the same schedule as you or has the same interests as you, or has the same desire to learn English that you have. We all know how difficult it can be to find a quality language exchange partner. So all I'm saying is that you might be making it even harder by refusing to practice your English with non-native speakers. So the second thing I want you to consider is that everyone knows something you don't. To think that you can only learn new things about English from native English speakers is the same thing as thinking you can only learn how to play soccer by studying with someone who has been playing since the day they were born. To think that you can only learn things from a teacher is fine. That's a valid opinion. But we've got to remember, everyone is a teacher. Men, women, adults, children, bus drivers, artists, politicians, librarians, they're all teachers.

[00:04:52] And what exactly is the teacher anyway? It's someone who has the necessary experience, time, and patience to help you learn something new and that can literally be any one of us. Do all of us learn how to cook in a school with instructors? No, our parents teach us or we learn by experimenting. Nowadays, you can actually go find tutorials online for free from regular people like you and me. And do all of us learn how to fight with professional MMA instructors? No, most people learn fighting at school or in the streets. And even the best, most experienced fighters get knocked on their ass from time to time. Do you think they don't have more to learn? And who are they going to learn it from if they're the best? Do all of us learn how to have sex by taking some course with a licensed professional? No, of course not. Most of us learn by watching other people have sex and then experimenting with our partners. Right?

[00:05:49] Now, maybe these aren't the best examples, but hopefully, you can see my point. So many of the skills you have at your disposal were not taught to you by some licensed professional with decades of experience. They were taught to you by someone who simply had more experience than you. And it's the same for language. There are plenty of native English speakers who don't speak perfect or grammatically correct English, and there are plenty of natives who couldn't explain how things work in their language. But there are a bunch of non-natives who can, and some of them speak your native language. So don't underestimate the power of learning from other students, because sometimes they understand you more than your teachers do. And approaching people with the mindset that you have absolutely nothing to learn from them will only guarantee that you learn absolutely nothing from anyone.

[00:06:36] So the third and final thing I want you to consider is that in reality, in real life, you're going to be speaking English with all kinds of people, not just native speakers. And we've already talked about the fact that there are over one billion people learning English as a foreign language or as a second language. There are more people learning English than there are native English speakers. That means eventually you'll find yourself in a situation where someone who speaks English as a foreign language with an accent completely different from yours or mine, and you'll still need to be able to communicate with this person. And how do we learn to understand certain accents or dialects? We listen to them. A lot. We talk to people who use that accent or dialect a lot.

[00:07:27] So another important reason to practice your English with non-native speakers is because your chances of having to communicate with them are so high. Even in an English-speaking country, there are typically hundreds of thousands or in the case of the U.S., millions of people who speak English as a second language. And you need to be able to understand them just as much as you need to understand a native speaker. Right? And this also gives you a chance to get exposed to different cultures and ways of life while you're improving your English. You can end up making friends all over the world because you all speak this language that unites you. You know? And there's really no telling where that connection could go.

[00:08:04] So if you're one of those people that believe you should only practice your English with native English speakers, what do you think after hearing this episode? I hope that you can at least see the reason in what I'm saying. The idea that you can only learn with natives or professionals is simply false, and it'll keep you from making not only progress but possibly friends and money as well. So I hope this message serves as an inspiration for you to get out there and find some language exchange partners to practice your English with, even if those partners are not native speakers

[00:08:36] Now, if you'd like to join a growing community of quality language exchange partners, then I strongly recommend you consider joining the Life in English community. As a member, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher and his dream of making the world a better place through creative education. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed the episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Have you ever had a conversation in English with a non-native speaker? If so, describe the experience.
  • How has your experience been looking for a language exchange partner?
  • What qualities do you look for in a language exchange partner?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
Download the VIP
Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to talk about the idea that you need to be talking to native English speakers if you want to become fluent and whether it's true or not. Spoiler alert, it's not true. But keep listening to hear me talk all about it. Roll the intro.

[00:00:25] The Life in English podcast is designed to teach you the real American English that you won't learn in school, and it's made possible by our VIP community. By becoming a VIP member of the Life in English community, you'll get access to our Private Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes, interactive transcripts, and vocabulary and grammar guides. If you'd like to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip.

[00:00:47] Now, I want to start this episode by giving a big shout-out to my man, Daniel Pérez. He's one of our biggest supporters and most active people in the Life in English community, always trying to make new members feel welcome, encouraging them to speak and express themselves. So Daniel, thank you so much for being a part of the community. He was actually the first one to join the community, by the way. You know? The very first member of the Life in English community and hopefully the first of many more to come.

[00:01:16] But anyway, let's get to the meat and potatoes or the real idea, the real content of this episode. You know, a lot of people around the world believe the only way to improve their English is by speaking with native English speakers. They refuse to practice their English with people from another country or with other non-native speakers. Now, obviously, if you're one of these people and that's what you believe, you have every right to believe that. But let me challenge you to think about a few things, and maybe you'll see that this mentality could be slowing you down on your journey.

[00:01:47] So the first thing I want you to consider is that natives generally have less time than other English learners. The number of people around the world who are learning English as a foreign language is staggering. We're talking hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of people. But what about the amount of English speakers actively trying to learn a foreign language? I really don't know what the number is, but in my experience here in the U.S., it's relatively low. So what does that mean? That means that there's a high demand for native English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange with someone who speaks a foreign language. Why? Because the supply of this type of person is so low. There simply are not enough native speakers or native English speakers for everyone.

[00:02:33] And there's a low demand for non-English speakers who are actively looking to do a language exchange. Why? Because there are over a billion of them. There's enough supply for every native English speaker on this planet to have a native language exchange partner. So what are you left with? The relatively few native speakers who are not only interested in learning your language but also have the time, energy, patience, and dedication to learn and practice with you consistently over months or years of time. The number of people who fit into that category is discouragingly low.

[00:03:10] Then you have private English teachers who will give you weekly classes in exchange for an hourly fee. Right? But most people can't afford to pay a private teacher every week for many reasons. They don't make enough money or their national currency is much weaker than the currency in most English-speaking countries. Or maybe they just can't find a teacher they identify with. So if we go back to my initial statement, there are a lot more people learning English than there are native English speakers learning a foreign language. And of that group of English speakers learning a foreign language, they're all learning different foreign languages, which just lowers the chances that you'll find one to practice with you on a regular basis.

[00:03:47] Now, think about that group of people learning English. That group of over one billion people. You got to think at least 1% of that group speaks the same language as you, or has the same schedule as you or has the same interests as you, or has the same desire to learn English that you have. We all know how difficult it can be to find a quality language exchange partner. So all I'm saying is that you might be making it even harder by refusing to practice your English with non-native speakers. So the second thing I want you to consider is that everyone knows something you don't. To think that you can only learn new things about English from native English speakers is the same thing as thinking you can only learn how to play soccer by studying with someone who has been playing since the day they were born. To think that you can only learn things from a teacher is fine. That's a valid opinion. But we've got to remember, everyone is a teacher. Men, women, adults, children, bus drivers, artists, politicians, librarians, they're all teachers.

[00:04:52] And what exactly is the teacher anyway? It's someone who has the necessary experience, time, and patience to help you learn something new and that can literally be any one of us. Do all of us learn how to cook in a school with instructors? No, our parents teach us or we learn by experimenting. Nowadays, you can actually go find tutorials online for free from regular people like you and me. And do all of us learn how to fight with professional MMA instructors? No, most people learn fighting at school or in the streets. And even the best, most experienced fighters get knocked on their ass from time to time. Do you think they don't have more to learn? And who are they going to learn it from if they're the best? Do all of us learn how to have sex by taking some course with a licensed professional? No, of course not. Most of us learn by watching other people have sex and then experimenting with our partners. Right?

[00:05:49] Now, maybe these aren't the best examples, but hopefully, you can see my point. So many of the skills you have at your disposal were not taught to you by some licensed professional with decades of experience. They were taught to you by someone who simply had more experience than you. And it's the same for language. There are plenty of native English speakers who don't speak perfect or grammatically correct English, and there are plenty of natives who couldn't explain how things work in their language. But there are a bunch of non-natives who can, and some of them speak your native language. So don't underestimate the power of learning from other students, because sometimes they understand you more than your teachers do. And approaching people with the mindset that you have absolutely nothing to learn from them will only guarantee that you learn absolutely nothing from anyone.

[00:06:36] So the third and final thing I want you to consider is that in reality, in real life, you're going to be speaking English with all kinds of people, not just native speakers. And we've already talked about the fact that there are over one billion people learning English as a foreign language or as a second language. There are more people learning English than there are native English speakers. That means eventually you'll find yourself in a situation where someone who speaks English as a foreign language with an accent completely different from yours or mine, and you'll still need to be able to communicate with this person. And how do we learn to understand certain accents or dialects? We listen to them. A lot. We talk to people who use that accent or dialect a lot.

[00:07:27] So another important reason to practice your English with non-native speakers is because your chances of having to communicate with them are so high. Even in an English-speaking country, there are typically hundreds of thousands or in the case of the U.S., millions of people who speak English as a second language. And you need to be able to understand them just as much as you need to understand a native speaker. Right? And this also gives you a chance to get exposed to different cultures and ways of life while you're improving your English. You can end up making friends all over the world because you all speak this language that unites you. You know? And there's really no telling where that connection could go.

[00:08:04] So if you're one of those people that believe you should only practice your English with native English speakers, what do you think after hearing this episode? I hope that you can at least see the reason in what I'm saying. The idea that you can only learn with natives or professionals is simply false, and it'll keep you from making not only progress but possibly friends and money as well. So I hope this message serves as an inspiration for you to get out there and find some language exchange partners to practice your English with, even if those partners are not native speakers

[00:08:36] Now, if you'd like to join a growing community of quality language exchange partners, then I strongly recommend you consider joining the Life in English community. As a member, you'll get access to our private English Conversation Group, bonus podcast episodes with transcripts and vocabulary guides, and the satisfaction of knowing that you're supporting your favorite English teacher and his dream of making the world a better place through creative education. So for more information about how to join the community, you can visit lifeinenglish.net/vip. But that's it for now, my friend. I hope you enjoyed the episode. This is Life in English. I'm your host, Tony Kaizen. And I'll talk to you later. Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

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