April 12, 2023
Do I need to sound like a native-English speaker?
At the moment, I am seeing adverts everywhere for English courses that will help you to “sound like a native speaker”.
I can understand why this is attractive – when you learn a language, it’s natural to want to sound like a native speaker of that language.
But, I feel that promising learners will sound like a native speaker is:
- Dishonest – no matter who you are it is going to be difficult to sound like a native speaker
- Distracting – time spent trying to emulate native-speaker speech could be better spent on becoming a better communicator
- Disheartening – if this is your ultimate goal and you don’t achieve it, this will really knock your confidence.
Do I think you need to sound like a native speaker in order to be successful?
It is MUCH more important to be an effective communicator in English in order to achieve success.
So here are 5 questions to ask yourself before spending hours trying to sound like a native speaker.
1. What is your ultimate goal?
Think about what you really want to achieve in your life and career. Maybe you want to be a manger or start a business… or find a partner!
Whatever your ultimate goal is, it takes more than sounding like a native speaker to achieve these. You need to be able to use English to communicate your ideas clearly, to ‘sell yourself” and to build relationships. THESE are what will help you to achieve success.
2. What does a “native speaker” sound like?
What is considered native-speaker English varies dramatically! In the UK alone, there are countless accents and dialects.
The phrases that people use will vary depending on their age, location, and experiences….it may also change depending on who they are speaking to.
Unless you choose one person to emulate, how will you ever know when you have achieved your goal?
When you don’t have clear goals, it can negatively affect your motivation and confidence. This will further distract you from your ultimate goals in your career and life.
3. Do all the native speakers you know communicate effectively?
I’m sure you know some native-English speakers who are difficult to understand.
Just because English is someone’s first language, doesn’t mean they will use it effectively.
In fact, companies hire me to train all of their staff in business communication skills, not just those who speak English as a second language.
Because effective communication is not just about knowing the language, it is about knowing how to use language effectively to communicate your ideas.
4. How quickly do you want to achieve your goals?
If you REALLY want to sound like a native speaker, that’s fine but it will take a LONG time.
For example, if you want to perfect an RP accent it will take hours of repetition and practice.
That time would be much better spent on learning how to communicate clearly and use the language effectively. This way you will achieve your ultimate goals in life more quickly.
Why wait to sound like a native speaker when you can start working towards your goals now?
5. How do you want to be seen?
Many English learners say they want to sound like a native speaker so they can fit in. They think people won’t judge them if they sound like a native.
Although it’s true other people may get frustrated if they don’t understand you, that doesn’t mean you have to sound like a native.
In fact, if you try too hard to be something you’re not, you may seem inauthentic.
In my experience, people who are successful can communicate clearly AND authentically.
So in fact, sounding like yourself can actually be an advantage.
So those are 5 questions to ask yourself before you commit to trying to sound like a native speaker.
If you want to achieve the success that you deserve in the UK but English feels like a barrier right now, book a free trial session and see how I can help you through my 121 coaching.