Clever Apple English



You need not speak English like native speakers

Hi!!! I'm Clever Apple!! I'm studying Master of Education (TESOL) at Wollongong university in Australia. 

Today, I will show 3 reasons why you don't have to speak native-like English!


In short, the reasons are: ①the word 'Native' is ambiguous, ②L2 English speakers can't become native English speakers, and Most of L2 English learners will be less likely to talk with native speakers.



Lets' get started!!






・I hope this article will encourage you not to persist in speaking native-like English and feel comfortable learning English.

 0. Is native-like English the only correct English?


I think many English learners hope to speak 'native-like English'.


I had believed that native-like English is perfect and I must speak it, but I know this thought is wrong.



I guess some English learners feel embarrassing to speak English in front of people, leading to less opportunities for English output.


For those people, I will explain the 3 reasons why you don't have to speak 'Naive-like English'.



 1. What is 'native-like English?

We sometimes use words like 'native speakers' and ' native-like English'.
However, who are they and what is it??
In some countries such as the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, English is spoken as a first language.
Also, in one country, the spoken English is various because of a large variety of race and cultures.
For example, America has 50 states and the people speak different English. 
In this way, I think many English learners study English for an ambiguous purpose.
So, why is 'native English' important?
My answer is that 'native English' is necessary as a standard.
According to Cook (2016), RP (Received pronunciation) spoken in the UK is essential in that it can be understood by anybody in the UK.
However, this doesn't mean RP is easily understood all over the world.
English spoken by native speakers is just a 'standard' and blindly aiming to speak native-like English can decrease the learners' motivation, because that is hard to achieve.


 2. L2 English speakers can't become native English speakers


The second reason is that it is impossible to become native English speakers.


As Bloomfield mentions, "The first language a human being learns to speak is his native language; he is a native speaker of this language" (Bloomfield, 1933, p. 43), and L2 English learners can speak 'native-like English' but they cannot become native speakers.


Such an aim that is not achievable is meaningless.



Therefore, as I mentioned earlier, 'native English' is just a standard, and aiming to become native English speakers means cutting your own throat.



 3. Most of L2 English learners will be less likely to talk with native speakers


The final reason is that native English speakers are minority and most of English speakers are non-native speakers.


According to Babbel (2021), less than a quarter of English speakers are native English speakers, while over 1 billion English speakers are non-native.


This means the majority of the interlocutors of L2 English learners are non-native English speakers.


For example, if you want to work in tourism, 74% of travelers are non-native English speakers (Graddol, 2006).


Furthermore, Asian English speakers are more likely to understand English spoken by Japanese than that by native speakers. People from 11 Asian countries listened to English spoken by Japanese and native speakers, and 55% of native speakers' English was understood, while the percentage of Japanese speakers' English was staggering 75% (Smith & Rafiqzad, 1979).


This means, 'native-like English' isn't always more intelligible than 'Asian accent English' for Asian people.



If you want to learn English, not to learn about English, you don't have to care about the nativeness of your English.



 4. Summary

 ・In this article, I explained the reasons why L2 English learners don't have to speak 'native-like' English.


・The reasons are: ①The word 'Native' is ambiguous, ②L2 English speakers can't become native English speakers, and Most of L2 English learners will be less likely to talk with native speakers


Reference list

     Babbel. (2021). How many people speak English, and where is it spoken. Available at: (accessed December 12 2021).
     Bloomfield, L. (1933). Language. Holt.

     Cook, V. (2016). Second language learning and language teaching (Fifth Edition). Routledge.

     Graddol, D. (2006). English NextBritish Council.

     Smith, L. E. and Rafiqzad, K.(1979). English for cross-cultural communication: The question of intelligibility. TESOL Quarterly, 13(3), 371-380.
Enjoy your English learning :)