HOW TO HELP SOMEBODY TO LEARN YOUR LANGUAGE:
Ultimate Guide on Teaching Languages To Your Friends And Lovers
Practicing with Natives – The Survival Manual
In this article you will learn how to speak with somebody that wants to learn your native language. We share tips & tricks to keep the conversations flowing and reduce the stress so that language learning become effective and fun. If You are studying any language, share this with your friends to get the best help you could dream of.
You probably speak a language as your native, a language that you never studied, you grew up and the language got magically installed in your brain. And now there are people in your life that are trying to learn your native language. Crazy!
They might be friends, they just moved here looking for a better life. Maybe they moved because of you and you are now building a life together. Learning your language is a big part of their struggles.
Lithuania is Beautiful, Studying Lithuanian Not so Beautiful
Why Studying Languages Is Not Easy
Learning a language is not so easy. There is a lot of psychological pressure involved when, as an adult, you try to learn a language.
- Mistakes are not allowed (you got punished for several years at school every time you made one)
- Hard to understand what people are talking about
- Grammar is impossible to learn
- Pronunciation sucks
- Friends remind you to study harder
There is a billion dollar industry (60 Billion Dollar every year) focused on studying languages.
Unfortunately studying a language makes you good at knowing the grammar. You could become a teacher of the language after any beginner course. The funny thing is that most of the natives don’t even know the grammar rules.
So what about speaking the language? Understanding the language? Knowing the language? Learning the language?
Schools and language courses have failed to provide the adequate tools to learn languages. They give you a simplified version of it, they force you to memorize words, let you pass exams, enroll you in more classes, more exams, you get a certification…but at the end you still can’t speak or understand the language. Or maybe you can speak and understand the language but you don’t, because you are still afraid of making mistakes.
Help Us Learning Your Language: Time for Action
YOU CAN HELP US!
Our dear NATIVES: how can you help US to learn your language?
Don’t Try To Teach The Language
We need you as a friend, not as a teacher. There are wonderful teachers around but they are rare exceptions and you are probably not one of them. You don’t want to be our teacher, let’s be friends.
Speak As Much As Possible
Speak with us in your language as much as you can.
Even if we answer in English.
Even if we don’t answer.
Don’t Switch Back To English
Speaking a broken version of any language might feel shallow and awkward. And most or all conversation ends up in English. But if you tweak these situations, you will get a lot out of your conversations.
Fight this instinct of switching (it’s a survival instinct) and keep the conversations in your language.
Bliu Bliu Interviewed by Lithuanian Newspaper after our Video got viral on Facebook
Agree together on a rule that, every time we meet the conversation starts in your language. To make it easier, use a timer and start with 1 to 5 minutes. (more here about timeboxing).
Then build up, slowly, adding more minutes. Nobody dies if they have to speak a language for only 5 minutes. You will actually find out that it’s really fun to do it.
The earlier we start speaking in your language, the faster we will progress.
Keep It Simple…But Real
We might look 30yo but our language skills is on the 3yo level: fine tune your speed and vocabulary
But at the same time we are not 3yo, so keep it real. Don’t make us feel stupid, don’t speak too fast neither too slow.
If you think this is stressful, you have no idea how stressful it it to speak a language that is not yours.
Use Words We Know
Get to know us, chances are that we can understand way more than you think. We might not speak much but we can understand a lot. Dig deeper. Show us how to correctly combine the 100 words that we know.
If we keep making mistakes and you can’t stop yourself from correcting us – establish a routine where every mistake gets rewarded.
Between friends you could hug, high five, drink a glass of wine.
In a couple you could kiss or make love.
Anchor mistakes to something that feels good. You want us to make more and more mistakes, because this is the only way to learn a language.
If we are making only few mistakes, we are not pushing ourself enough.
Fix Our Mistakes Like a Secret Agent
Instead of saying “I want to go to the toilet” we might say “I want to go toilet“, or any other variation. Don’t point out the mistake. Don’t try to fix it. The best way to fix it is to simply paraphrase us: find a way to repeat what we just said and fix the mistakes in your phrase.
– “I want to go toilet”
WRONG – “You can’t say – I want to go toilet – you have to say – I want to go to the toilet”
RIGHT – “I will wait for you while you go to the toilet”
Our brain is a powerful computer, it will pick up the right way.
Add Cherries On Top of Every Conversation
Help us to make our sentences more beautiful. We might say
– Will you wait for me?
RIGHT: yes, I can wait for you until you are done.
RIGHT: yes, I can wait for you on the corner
RIGHT: yes, I can wait for you but only for 5 more minutes.
RIGHT: yes; I can wait for you, how long will it take?
Now you just thought me 5 new expressions that I can reuse immediately.
Don’t Get Too Excited
This advice might sound counterintuitive but it’s a very powerful one.
It’s easy for natives to get excited when you hear us speaking your language for the first time.
“WOW YOU ARE GREAT”
“WOW, THAT IS SO CUTE”
We don’t want this. Maybe a bit, but just a bit. What we want is have natural conversations with you in your language. We don’t want to be funny cute parrots getting you excited cause we can pronounce few words in your language. Create a low stress environment where speaking the language together is the most natural thing ever.
Don’t Praise Talent, Praise Hard Work
If you want to say a compliment, always praise hard work and not talent.
– “WOW, you are so talented” talent
– “WOW, you must work so hard” hard work
Praising talent is dangerous because at some point we will hit a wall and stop progressing as fast as the beginning. If you praised our talent, our brain won’t believe that is possible to overcome this obstacle, talent got us just that far.
When you praise our hard work, there is no wall impossible to climb.
Real Words, Not “Official” Ones
At school they always teach certain vocabularies just because they perfectly fit the grammar rules they have in chapter one. It doesn’t matter that nobody uses that verb or that expression.
We want you to use the right verbs, the right adjectives, the right expressions. And by right we don’t mean right in a grammatical sense. Use broken grammar if needed, just keep it real, talk to us how you talk with other friends.
You use slang? We want to use slang.
You need to be patient when you speak with us. We are not there yet but we are trying hard. Relax.
Find Your Own Rules
The game of practicing a language needs to be fun for both of us, you the native and us the students. Define your own rules on how to handle your conversations. Different people different rules
- Do you want to use a timer? Timeboxing is a great technique and you could agree that you will speak always for 10minutes only in your language. Set a timer and voila, speak until the timer rings
- Do we need translations? Please correct our phrases and translates our English, always and straight away.
- Only we can use English, you as the Native can only speak your language
- Only you can use English, we as Students we can only speak your language
- If somebody break a rule they will get penalized, for example paying the other part 1€.
PUT IT TO ACTION
Now you know some new tricks, go and try them out. Give it a shot, rework it into your way and tell us about your tricks to practice a language in a “harsh environment”. And don’t forget to share this with your friends.