Do You Need a Native Speaker To Practice a Language? (Podcast Episode 48)

Hello and welcome to Episode 48 of the Creative Language Learning Podcast!

We started off our episode with some insights into what's going on with our language learning - in a new format! It's called the good, the bad and the struggling. Listen in and tell us what you think!

What's your Good, Bad and Struggling?

We'd love to hear from you guys on this one. If you want to share what's good, bad and difficult in your languages right now, send your feedback to us. We read every one and your language news could make it to a show intro in the future.

Simply do one of the following:

  • go on Skype and leave a voice message for fluentlanguage
  • email us at - include a voice memo from your phone if you can, so we can feature your voice on the show

Topic: You Do Not Need a Native Speaker For Practice

This one had a controversial statement at the heart of it, and Lindsay and I debated the merits of hunting, finding, selecting, working with and learning with native speakers.

So, do you need a native speaker to learn a language?

Or can you learn a language just as well if you don't have a native speaker to practice with?

One of us argued that native speakers are almost "fetishized" in the world of language learning -- listen in to find out which one and see where our debate ended up.

Some Of The Arguments We Made

1. A Tutor Can Be Better

Tutors tend to know what learning is like, and they see people learn all the time. They know the grammar structures, the vocabulary you're looking for, and they're ready to help you out and set you up for success. So for a language beginner, working with the tutor could be way more successful than working with any native speaker.

The native language of your tutor doesn't matter - it's all about what they can teach you, and that their personality allows you to blossom.

2. Don't Procrastinate Through Searching

If you're always looking for a native tutor to practice with, could it be that you'd hold back when practicing with non-natives? Before you start setting irrelevant standards in your language learning, it may be time to consider what is most relevant.

Waiting to find the perfect native speaker to practice with can become its own form of procrastination.

3. Find The Native At The Perfect Time

When you're feeling shaky about your speaking speed, accuracy and fluency, the native conversation can become a struggle. There's no point in getting yourself frustrated. Instead, consider working towards that natural conversation and a feeling of it being "effortless" - the native speaker can become a goal you set yourself, not something you put in your way as a hurdle.

4. It's Too Vague To Have A Vague Goal

A "15 minute conversation with a native speaker" is a goal that you may find inspiring, but it's a tough one to put into reality. Try and go about this goal more specifically by putting in milestones, things that will happen on the way to that conversation, and will pull it into sharper focus.

I can't count the amount of times I've found an advanced speaker of my target language, and then we ran out of things to say within a few hours. You need to find someone who wants to help you on the path, but also someone you have a rapport with. And once you've got that covered, it's a milestone.