You start with a teacher who speaks the same language as you, and then eventually transition into learning with a native speaker. This is the commonly accepted wisdom in language learning. It seems so logical to people that many wouldn't bother to question it. Well, we do question it. It's simply not the case that the best path for all learners is to first work with a teacher who speaks their own language and then only later transition to working with native speakers of their target language.
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OK, admittedly the first step of working with a local teacher is fair. We don't dispute that in itself, but rather the amount of time you might need before adding in time with a native-speaker teacher. Once you have a basic bank of vocabulary and a decent accumulation of fundamental knowledge in the language such as its grammar and construction, then it's time to bring on the natives.
📈 The Steep Learning Curve is Better
We are naturally inclined to avoid the steeper slope. A careful approach is often touted as superior; "Slow and steady wins the race," right? In fact, no. The problem with taking language instruction too steadily is that you will find it easier to forget all the things you learned earlier on. A shallower curve means a much longer time period, which means far more time for things to get lost in the mix. Effective language acquisition happens when you use a lot of language in a relatively short time frame. A native speaker teacher will dramatically increase the amount of material you can potentially learn, even when you only meet with them once a week for an hour or so.
🤢 Avoiding Bad Language Habits
The early period of language learning is often characterized by relatively quick progress. Learning the simplest elements of a language can create a sense of comfort and achievement, all of which is good. When you put off the inclusion of native-speaker teachers into the mix, however, problems can occur. A teacher for whom your target language is also a second language is more prone to overlook minor but noticeable errors in language such as grammar use and pronunciation. These problems need to be nipped in the bud.
A native teacher will be able to quickly and deftly correct these issues, putting you onto the right track for faster and more accurate progress in your target language. You will also be able to avoid the pitfalls of mixing elements of your first language with your second language. French speakers learning English, for example, who have no exposure to native-level teachers, may succumb to "Franglais" --- the unfortunate hybrid of French and English where conventions and vocabulary get mixed up.
📖 Skip Over the Useless Content
Another great advantage of working with a native teacher earlier is skipping out all the wasted effort on defunct language points. Your local teachers are likely less aware of real trends in the native version of your target language. They may not keep up to speed with what words are common or even acceptable any more. A native speaker is better placed to instruct you in the most relevant and authentic version of the language you wish to speak and understand well.
💬 Pitch-Perfect Pronunciation
As we mentioned in the second point, a native teacher is better placed to steer you clear of the many pitfalls of language learning. The truth is that their value goes beyond merely helping you to pronounce words correctly. They will even help you to generate a better accent; to sound more natural and more like a native yourself. Accent is one of those things that many learners hope to acquire, so that their interlocutors may never even know that they're dealing with someone speaking their tongue as a second language. If you don't get the accent, however, you can still benefit greatly from picking up native-level cadence and rhythm.
Mastering the rhythm, emphasis, and tone of the target language will help others understand you better than you can imagine. Very often, it's not the level of the vocabulary or accuracy of grammar that takes listeners aback, but rather just how comfortable and "regular" you sound in their ears.
⏳ Don't Wait for the Benefits - Grab Them Now
In summary, there are too many potential benefits of learning with a native speaker to keep kicking that can down the road and putting off those classes. Once you have the basic building of the language in place, take that bold step and move on to the next level with gusto.
🎉 Get started!
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