Four ways to speak a language like a native.
Part 45 of the Poligo Guide to Learning a Language.
SECTION 4: This section explains how to divide the language into smaller parts and how to learn each part.
From the last part, we understand why people stop improving when they get to the high-intermediate level. If you decide to continue with your language, there are four ways you can make sure that you continue to improve. If you use these four methods, you can be sure that your language skills will get as close to native-level as possible.
Until now, you might have chosen what was "useful" to you, or a "common expression", and only learned that. You might have skipped some words or phrases, thinking that you would never need to say or understand them. However, if you choose to continue learning a language past the conversational level, you need to change your idea of what you need to learn.
This is your new rule:
If a native speaker knows it, I should know it too.
Remember that "know" here does not mean "I understand it when I hear it." It means you should be able to make that sentence or use that word correctly yourself. Every time you find something that you cannot say or use correctly, you should learn it and memorise it. This rule is for words, phrases, whole sentences, intonation, and so on.
Find different types of language that you are not familiar with and and then, one by one, flood your life with each. Some examples of these kinds of genres are:
and so on. Find the major media in the language, and then the important genres within each medium. For spoken language, focus on copying intonation and pronunciation. Good sources for this are speeches and TV shows. Often you can find the script of a TV show or a speech on the internet or in a book. Use that to learn from and shadow the speakers out loud.
It can be very difficult to learn about different types of of conversations. You can get a better understanding of these genres of conversation by studying them when they are in TV shows, movies, dialogues in books, comic books or in drama. If you are able to, you can record conversations and then learn from that. Listen to your recordings many times over, trying to find the words and phrases you do not understand or cannot say yourself. Spend your time copying the intonation and pronunciation of the speakers.
At the end of the intermediate level, writing becomes more and more important. This is because, first, when you write you have more time to think about the way you are using the language than when you speak. This means you are able to use much more of the language than you can when you are at speaking speed. Even in your native language, this is one reason for the difference between written and spoken language. All of us can write in ways we cannot speak. With more time to carefully create sentences and meaning, writing is often more complex and more detailed.
Second, writing practice is useful because it means you can get feedback on your writing from native speakers. This feedback will help you understand your weaknesses. You can find the places you make mistakes. Native speakers can also suggest better ways for you to express your ideas. Whenever you get feedback on your writing, you should make sure you understand the reasons for the changes. You should also memorise the new sentences and then use them as examples to create more sentences of your own the next time you write.
Third, writing practice gives you the chance to practice any kind of language you choose. You may not get the chance to practice some things in conversation, but you can choose to write about them any time. Even if you may never need to write about such things in your life, it is worth practicing. This is important because the best speakers are always using phrases and words that are more common in writing. Educated native speakers have years of writing practice as a large part of their basic education, and this helps them develop their own language skills. If you want to speak as well as a native speaker, you must be able to write well too.
This is pretty simple, but very effective. It is better to record yourself in a real situation. In a real situation, you will be thinking about the situation, and not the recording. The sample of your speech will be close to your real ability in the language.
There are two main ways of using your recordings:
When you do this, you will learn many things about the way you speak the language. You might have strange habits of speech. You will be able to notice your own accent and improve it. You will find many ways that you can improve your language skills.
NEXT: The final part — a summary of our method.