If you haven’t already read Teacher David’s article, be sure to check it out here!
If you don’t already know David, you should because he is an amazing example of a non-native English speaker who has accomplished the ultimate goal – learning to speak English like a native! And, he was generous enough to share his wisdom with us about how he did it so be sure to check out his article.
In this post, we will talk about the research and pedagogy that prove that David’s advice is not only true for his situation, but also for yours based on current educational research in the field of language acquisition. So, here is an overview of the research behind David’s tips:
As David mentioned, if you want to learn English, or actually anything, you need to start by believing you CAN do it. When it comes to learning a language, many people believe that if they start learning after a certain age, they will not be able to have good pronunciation and fluency. But, the most current research in neuroscience has proved that the brain is much more malleable than previously thought. People can learn new skills and make new habits over time at any age with the right training. What does that mean for you as an English Language Learner? It means that you CAN do it! You can learn perfect pronunciation, you can learn an American Accent, you can learn fluency, you can learn anything you want! All you need to do is believe in yourself and put in the time and effort to accomplish your goals.
To read more about research in mindsets, click here.
David also mentions the importance of immersion to learn a language well. We all know that is true, but not everyone can just pack up, move to an English-speaking community and start immersing themselves in it. BUT, what everyone CAN do is use research on learning and forming habits to help you mimic an environment of English immersion so that you can get the benefits that immersion provides. Specifically, being in an English-speaking community forces you to form a habit of speaking and listening to English because you have no other choice. If you’re not in an English-speaking community, you can still get this benefit by motivating yourself to form a habit. How long does it take to form a habit?
Research (Source 1 or Source 2) shows that the average time to form a new habit is 66 days! When was the last time you did something new every day for 66 days in a row? It takes commitment to be able to do that! So, for example, if you start working at an English-speaking company, you will form a habit of speaking English after 2-3 months based on that research. But let’s say you don’t work at an English-speaking company. Well, you can still get the benefit by committing to work on your English and pronunciation and fluency for at least 10 minutes per day for 3 months. Then, it will be a habit. And your goal of speaking English fluently with great pronunciation will be accomplished.
3. Usage in Context
David’s final key to speaking English like a native is to use English in context. This advice relates to the concept of motivation, which is a well-researched topic in language acquisition. For example, the Journal of Educational Research published a study by Sultan Sarwat and Irshad Hussain that studied the correlation between motivation and achievement in language learning and found a strong correlation between the two. In other words, the more motivated you are to learn something like pronunciation, the more likely you are to be successful. Using English in context, such as having to actually communicate with someone about something important, is very motivating and will therefore have a big impact on your success in learning a language.
So, in summary, now you have heard about how to be a successful language learner both from the perspective of someone who has done it himself and from the perspective of current research in the field of language acquisition.