Definition: Native Speaker
A person whose primary language (or acquired language) is at a level of communication and comprehension so that it is indistinguishable from that of the standards of communication and comprehension of the community of speakers of that language.
In other words, if no-one call tell that a speaker of a language has acquired it as a foreign language later in life – they too could be considered native speakers.
Finding a Native Speaker
Congratulations on the decision to increase your level of communication of a foreign language. Your options will vary depending on location – whether if you are an expat living abroad, a student in a college town or working at home in a large city.
1. Classified Ads
Native Speakers will often advertise their teaching and tutoring services on-line through the most popular classified ad services – depending on their region. Craigslist might have a virtual monopoly (pun intended) in the United States, however outside of North America, other classified ads sites prevail. These include Kijiji – especially in Canada; Gumtree in the UK, Poland, Central Europe; Farpost.ru in Russia – especially Eastern Russia, former states of the Soviet Union, as well as Beijing China.
For those living abroad sites such as expatriates.com and expat-blog.com might be of particular interest.
These sites will often have a subcategory, usually under ‘jobs’ or ‘services’ which target the language learning and education category. Why not check them out?
The Pro: easy access to multiple ads.
The Con: these sites usually target the largest cities in of a country. Learners in other towns and cities might not find too many Native Speakers listed near them. Also – the fact that the person posting the ad can be anyone – are you getting quality?
2. Educational Institutions: The Local College, Public and Language Schools
Every reputable liberal arts college will have multiple foreign languages departments (also known as Modern Languages). It is a rich community of language learners and potential Native Speaker language instructors – they are not only limited to foreign exchange students, Ph.D. candidates lecturing the undergrads. From my personal experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, every foreign language class I took had at least one (more often multiple) Native Speaker students.
If you are learning a more popular language to your area, e.g. Spanish or French in North America, you can try contacting educators at public schools. They will often have on staff one or more language specialists who are often interested in earning some extra cash on the side teaching languages outside the classroom.
Similarly, educational centers that offer to teach English are crowded with language learners and native speakers of other languages. While they’re trying to improve their language skills – they might be keen on helping others learn their mother-tongue.
You might also consider searching the social network websites for a particular group on sites such as meetup.com, or facebook.com
The Pro: You can usually count on quality as most educators of years of teaching experience, pedagogical training, and a college education.
The Con: The research needed to get in touch with these individuals – calling or e-mailing the schools, and then the individuals. Try searching for the schools’ site with your favourite search engine. The limited language diversity in public schools.
4. Community Centers, National, Cultural and Heritage Organizations
Many immigrants as well as second-, third- and more generation nationals try to keep their mother-tongue alive and share the histories and culture of their heritage through participation in various organizations. Capitals and larger cities will also have their national consulates, embassies and commercial trade organizations.
The above-mentioned strategies are among the pot popular, but nowhere is it an exhausted list of ways of meeting a native speaker.
Feel free to let me know how you found your native speaker by e-mailing me at: