Everything you ever wanted to know about native speakers!
What is a native speaker?
A native speaker is a person who started to learn their language in the first years of their life. The word “native” is connected with a person’s place of birth. Of course, the word “native” can also be applied to animals. For example, a kangaroo is native to Australia. Usually, a native speaker of a language can only have one native language. People who started to learn two languages from birth are often called “bilingual”, and people who started to learn three languages from birth are called “trilingual”.
Can anybody understand a native speaker?
A native speaker can easily understand other native speakers of the same langauge and they do not have any problems communicating in their native language. However, many non-native speakers of a language have problems understanding native speakers because: (1) native speakers often speak very fast; (2) native speakers often shorten words or drop them completely from a sentence; (3) native speakers speak with an accent; (4) native speakers use slang or jargon more often than non-native speakers; and (5) native speakers use idioms.
Where do English native speakers come from?
English native speakers come from many countries in the world. Obviously, the most common countries are the United Kingdom (which is England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), the United States of America, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and many other countries in Africa, many countries in the Caribbean, Singapore, the Phillippines and many other countries in the world. For a full list of countries where English is widely used and spoken as a first language please go to: Official English Language
What does an English native speaker do?
Of course, an English native speaker can do anything. They work in government offices, industry, business, education, sports, the armed forces, the health service, the legal service, etc. Being an English native speaker is a description of a person’s level of English language skills and not a description of their general skills or abilities.
Are English native speakers good teachers?
Of course, many people think that English native speakers are good language teachers. This may or may not be true. It depends on the native speaker. A native speaker who wants to teach has several basic advantages over a non-native speaker who wants to teach, especially native speakers of English. An English native speaker will always speak English more naturally than a non-native speaker and will always pronounce English better than a non-native speaker.
Is English a phonetic language?
Some languages are phonetic. This means that you can see a word and know exactly how to pronounce it. In addition, you can hear a word being spoken and know exactly how to spell it. Polish is a phonetic language. English is not a phonetic language. This difference makes it difficult for some people to learn to pronounce English correctly. A learner should hear English words being spoken before they start to use those words. This is one reason to speak with English native speakers. You can always be sure that an English native speaker will pronounce English words correctly. However, English native speakers have different accents and come from different parts of the world, so local pronunications of words may be different among English native speakers.
Are English native speakers better teachers than English teachers who are Polish?
Some English native speakers are better teachers than English teachers who are Polish and some English teachers who are Polish are better teachers than English natives speakers. Being an English native speaker does not automatically make a person a good teacher. Many years of teaching experience and a passion for teaching as well as other skills and abilities make a person a good teacher, as with any subject.
Should English native speakers speak other languages?
Everybody should speak another language, if possible, more than one other language. Language, the same as travel, broadens the mind and develops the brain. Some people believe that learning a language is especially important for older people to keep their brains active. English native speakers who have learnt another language will better understand the problem that language learners have when learning another language. This means that they can often recommend the techniques that they used to learn another language.
Should an English native speaker speak Polish?
Yes and no! An English native speaker should never speak Polish or any other language apart from English when they are teaching English. Some native speakers try to explain English grammar or English vocabulary to their students using Polish. This is a mistake. The only time an English native speaker may speak Polish is when they are organising the time and place of a lesson with a student. However, this should not be very often. In particular, an English native speaker should never speak Polish with children they are teaching or in the presence of children they are teaching. Once a child hears a native speaker speaking their language then the child will often use their own native language when speaking with that person. If the native speaker ignores the child when the child knows they understand Polish, for example, then the child will be confused. This is usually the case for children under the age of about ten. Children over ten years old usually understand that a native speaker may understand Polish as well as English.
Should a native speaker speak Polish during a lesson?
Absolutely not! The reason students go to a native speaker is to hear them speak the native English language with a natural accent in a natural way. There is no point in speaking Polish during a lesson for any reason. The only time a teacher may consider speaking Polish during a lesson is when there is some danger or trouble, for example, if a student or the teacher starts to feel seriously ill.
Who can be a native speaker?
Of course, everybody is a native speaker. However, not everybody can be a native speaker teaching their own language. In general, only native speakers of languages that people want to learn can work as a language native speaker. Otherwise, anybody can become a native speaker teaching their own language. All that is necessary is access to students who want to learn the language.
What is the difference between a native speaker and somebody who is bilingual or trilingual?
A native speaker of a language learnt their language from the very beginning. Of course, it is possible that a native speaker started to learn a language from the age of five or six, which later becomes their native language. Perhaps they learnt their first language from their parents and then started to learn a different language at school. There are many combinations of factors which make it possible for somebody to become a native speaker of a language. However, it is not really possible to be a native speaker of two languages. One language will always be better and will always be the dominant language. A bilingual speaker or a trilingual speaker is somebody who has a very good command of several languages, probably learning all of the languages from an early age. For example, a bilingual speaker may have an English mother and a French father. In addition, if the child has good contact with the grandparents then the child can grow up being bilingual or even trilingual. However, bilingual and trilingual speakers can have language problems, for example, by borrowing words and phrases or sentence structure and using them in one of their other languages. For this reason, it is not always true that bilingual or trilingual speakers make good translators.
Do good translators translate both to and from their native language?
The best translators often translate only one way, from a language they know very well into their own native langauge. Since it is only really possible to have one native language, this means that the best translators will translate from one, two or more languages into their own native language.
Is a native speaker also a good language teacher?
No, not every native speaker is a good language teacher. Many people assume that every native speaker is also an expert in their native language and an expert in teaching that language. This is just not true. It takes many years of practice and many years of experience to become a good native speaker language teacher. Of course, many people start teaching their own language with a passion and this makes up for a lack of experience. However, in time, it becomes important to develop a system of teaching to make sure that the students are learning in an efficient and effective manner.
Can a native speaker prepare students for English examinations?
Of course, a native speaker who teaches English can prepare their students for examinations if they know how to do this and if they have experience. However, not all native speakers have this experience and not all native speakers know how to do this. A native speaker who wants to prepare students for English exams must have excellent knowledge of English grammar and English vocabulary as well as experience with the exam format.
What qualities does a native speaker need to teach a language?
There are many different types of native speakers who teach their own language and it is difficult to describe the exact combination of skills, experience and qualities that is necessary for teaching their own language. It very much depends on whom the native speaker will be teaching. The qualities needed to teach children are different to the qualities needed to teach adults. Obviously, the most important quality is a reasonable knowledge of their own language and a good natural accent and good pronunciation. However, many native speakers have a difficult accent to understand but are still good teachers. For students at an advanced level, it is a good experience to speak sometimes with native speakers with a Scottish or Irish accent, for example.
What jobs apart from teaching languages can a native speaker do?
Many people visit another country and want to work. Because they do not speak the local language, they can have a problem finding work. So what can a native speaker of English do apart from teaching English? In Poland, many native speakers work in call centres. There are many call centres in Poland working for companies operating internationally. In these call centres, many agents speak several languages including English. Often, these call centres employ English native speakers to call or to answer calls from their customers in English speaking countries. For example, customer help lines for washing machines or dishwashers, customer support lines for computer manufacturers. Many English native speakers also work for banks in Poland. Many banks in Poland have international clients who do not speak Polish, but these clients do speak English. So these banks employ English native speakers in their client services departments, for example.
Can an English native speaker teach English grammar?
Of course! Many English teachers who are Polish will claim that an English native speaker cannot teach English grammar. This is just not true. Many English teachers who are Polish will claim that an English native speaker does not know English grammer. Again, this is just not true. A well-educated English native speaker knows English grammar and, often, knows English grammar much better than an English teacher who is Polish. Knowing how to teach English grammar is a matter of practice and experience. Most English teachers who are Polish concentrate on teaching English grammar and so they are very good at this, especially at teaching their students to pass the relevant exams. Often, English teachers who are Polish are not very good at teaching their students to speak English, for obvious reasons. However, this is not always the case and there are many English teachers who are Polish who can teach their students to speak English well. However, what is true is that English native speakers are best at teaching their students to speak and understand English.
Can an English native speaker teach English vocabulary?
Of course! The above discussion about teaching English grammar applies to teaching English vocabulary. However, it is important to remember that the best way to learn vocabulary is to read a lot. Learning lists of words is boring and not really very effective. This is good if you want to pass a test, but not very effective if you want to learn a language. Language students who read a lot will always make more progress than those who don't read.
Should I learn English grammar with an English teacher who is Polish and conversation with an English native speaker?
It depends. Do you know an English teacher who is Polish and is good at teaching grammar? Do you know an English native speaker who is good at teaching conversation? Certainly, the opposite does not seem to make sense. Learning English conversation with an English teacher who is Polish and English grammar with an English native speaker is not really recommended.
What is the best English accent for learning English with an English native speaker?
How long is a piece of string? This depends on the person who is learning English. There are many different accents of the English language. Firstly, there are the main national accents. A British accent, an American accent, an Australian accent, a South African accent, a Canadian accent, a New Zealand accent and, of course, an Indian English accent, a Nigerian accent and a Jamaican accent, for example. In addition, there are many regional accents within each country, for example, in the United Kingdom there are Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish accents as well as Geordie, Yorkshire, Brummie (from Birmingham), Cockney (from London), and Cornish.
Does a native speaker know the culture of their country well?
Of course, some native speakers know the culture of their own country very well and other native speakers know very little. This all depends on how well educated the native speaker is and how well read they are.
Does a native speaker know everything about their language and their country?
Of course not! Some people believe that native speakers are a fountain of knowledge about their own countries and their own native language. This is simply not true. Knowledge of their own country may be limited to the areas where they have lived and the areas in which they worked. For example, a chef may know a lot about cooking and English cuisine and may also know a lot about the geography of the country they come from, but they may know less about law and medicine in their own country. On the other hand, a lawyer may have limited knowledge of their own cuisine, unless they are gourmets!
Does an English native speaker teaching in Poland understand Polish?
Maybe the native speaker understands Polish, but you should not assume they do. And if they do, they should not show this or give their students any indication that they understand Polish. When you learn with native speakers you should only speak with them in their native language.
Can every native speaker be a teacher of their own language?
Theoretically, yes, but in practice, no. Very often, a native speaker has no teaching experience and no language teaching training. It is not always necessary to have language teaching training to teach your own native language, a lot of passion and energy can often be a good substitute for proper language teaching training, especially if you want to teach one-to-one or very small groups of students. However, it is difficult to teach a large class of 15, 20 or more students without any experience or training. Also, it is difficult to prepare people for exams without experience.
What are the most important qualities of a good English native speaker?
A good English native speaker should speak well and clearly without making any linguistic mistakes, or at least avoid making any serious linguistic mistakes. When I hear a student say “Me and John went to the park” then I just have to rephrase it for them by saying, “Oh, you mean, John and I went to the park”. However, when I hear a native speaker say that, then all I can do is sigh or groan. There are many common linguistic mistakes that native speakers make when speaking with other native speakers, but it is better not to make these mistakes when teaching. A good knowledge of your own language is not enough to teach it. If you want to teach conversation English, then you have to learn not just how to speak good English but you also have to learn how to encourage and motivate students to speak. It sounds easy, but in practice it is not so easy.
How do I translate the words “native speaker” into Polish?
There is no real perfect way to translate “native speaker” into Polish that captures the same meaning of native speaker in English. Most Polish people just use the English phrase in Polish, for example: (1) native speakera; (2) native speakerzy; (3) native speakerem; (4) native speakerami; and (5) native speakerów. Sometimes, the spelling of native is changed, for example: (1) nativ speakera; (2) nativ speakerzy; (3) nativ speakerem; (4) nativ speakerami; and (5) nativ speakerów. And, of course, when Polish people use the phrase native speaker in Polish, the pronunciation is changed to sound Polish.
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