How to talk like a native

Person who is learning a foreign language ideally should reach native speaker level and enjoy native speaker benefits, that go beyond communication skill

photo by @charlieo_photographer

Based on Marc Green presentation there are 4 levels of speaking: basic, fluency, mastery and native speaker level. On the way reaching fluency - there is not a shortcut there are some methods you have to practice it until you reach a fluency level.

From fluency to mastery it is slower process which requires more efforts. Most people stop at fluency - they know how to speak english, good enough. they don’t attempt to venture on sophisticated or professional slang.

But the good news is to get the benefits of a native speaker at a native-speaker level - you don’t have to go through mastery in the academic sense. There are native speakers, who don’t have an in-depth knowledge of specialized fields or sophisticated vocabulary. That is not really what is required.

What is required to speak like a native? There are three areas to focus on:

1. Pronunciation - work on eliminating your accent, at least minimizing it.

This changes how natives behave towards you unconsciously, gives you an ability to adapt the new self-image. One of the best exercise to improve your pronunciation - is the perfect-sentence technique.


1) You find an native speaker to help you;

2) You take a book in the foreign language;

3) You open it at random page;

4) You read the first sentence;

5) You ask the native speaker to rate you on obvious accent, slight accent, no accent;

6) Then the native speaker will read this sentence back to you;

7) You have to listen carefully and them you repeat;

8) You repeat this process over and over until the native speaker tells you that he can no longer hear the accent when you read the sentence;

9) It can take a long time even to get one sentence right, but if you are persistent and patiently work on this you will be amazed what happens to your accent.

2. Colloquial Speech - learn verbs and expressions locals use.

Sometimes text books are almost useless if you want to converse with natives.


Example on french: My work - “le travail” - “mon boulot”

the clothes - “le vestements” - “le fringues”

Money - “l’argent” - “le fric”, “le sou”


You have to learn it from native speakers - one by one. After you reach the critical level that you are comfortable with, it will be easier when you encounter something new. You’ll just go, just like native speakers would, who hear worlds and expressions they didn’t know before.


3. Adopting cultural traits.

It takes a lot of active listening and observation. For example imagine there are three mens: American, German and French. They bombed the head, the initial reaction might be:

American: Ouch!

Gernam: Ow-ah!

French: Ay! This is what you have to observe and also internalize. It has to be part of you.


There are still this three friends and I sit with them and let’s say I serve them a tea and I ask each of them “Would you like a biscuit with your tea?”

Affirmative answers could be:

American: Uh-huh

German: Mm-hmm

French: Hmm


These differences require active listening, that you interact with natives as much as possible. Ideally you should fully immerse yourself in the culture. If you have a chance to live abroad for a while that will be great Live among natives in your own hometown, romantic relationships, spend time with co-workers, watch tv-shows, films, mimic the characters, learn lyrics of songs


Another way you can move to native speakers status is the right mindset and the belief that you sound like a native, express yourself like a native, act like a native.

If you practice it all, you will 100% archive the native-like level of speech.


Referred to Marc Green speech, bilingual, near native in 6 languages.


by Daria Mudrova