Imitation is the key to learning languages

Did you know that if you mimic someone’s accent, you’ll be able to better understand what they say? As playwright George Bernhard Shaw once said: “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.”

That’s what psychologists at the UK’s University of Manchester and Holland’s Radboud University discovered in a study in 2010. The results showed that imitating the person you’re talking to helps your speech comprehension.

So for language learners, this means it’s best to practise your conversation skills with a native speaker.

Loving couple having fun on the beach

Imitation speeds up learning

In the 1970s, American psychologist Andrew N. Meltzoff identified so-called ‘social learning’, where people or animals observe and then copy their companions.

“Imitation accelerates learning and multiplies learning opportunities”, he noted. “It is faster than individual discovery and safer than learning by trial and error.”

 

Practise talking with a native speaker

So if you want to learn a new language, don’t just study books. Make contact with native speakers to set up a language exchange – you’ll learn, have fun and make new friends, all at the same time!

People who want to learn at any time and anywhere have met native speakers from all over the world on busuu.com, the online language-learning community. Its integrated video-chat function makes it easy to log in and start talking.

 

Hot tip for learning even faster

Don’t simply imitate your partner’s way of speaking, accent or intonation; try to mimic their gestures and facial expressions too. Not only will you sound like a native speaker, you’ll also act like one!

There are so many benefits to learning a language like this. As well as having a great time and enjoying interesting conversations, you’ll practise your observation and socialising skills.

Tell us what you think! What languages have you learnt by interacting with native speakers? What extra benefits have you found? And do you have any tips for successful conversations?

9 thoughts on “Imitation is the key to learning languages

  1. Christoph

    I think what this study says is absolutely true. I’ve been learning Portuguese from my girlfriend for more than 1 year now and the feedback she or other native speakers of Brazilian Portuguese always give me is that the more I imitate them the better the result. Brazilians talk very loudly and very fast, and when you learn the language you need to adapt to their style (which for me as an Austrian was a bit difficult at the beginning). And really, the more you try to speak like them, the more easy it is to form correct sentences or remember common phrases. It helped me a lot and I think it’s the same thing with other languages.

  2. Ella Kovzharova

    Здравствуйте! Спасибо огромное! Я за 3 месяца многому научилась в busuu. Обучение в busuu очень помогает запоминать слова, строить предложения, проверять знания, правильно произносить слова, слушая диалоги с речью носителей языка. Но для меня сложным оказалось освоить грамматику с помощью busuu. Я вынуждена воспользоваться помощью преподавателя, чтобы хоть чуть-чуть разобраться с глаголами и их использованием на практике в разных временах. Я бы очень хотела, чтобы busuu смогла изложить грамматику более доступно.
    С большой благодарностью и уважением, Элла Ковжарова (Украина, город Киев). :)

  3. Thomas Post author

    Здравствуйте Елла,
    спасибо большое за ваш отзыв. Мы будем иметь это в виду и постараемся переделать грамматику. Продолжайе учиться с нами! С уважением the busuu.com team

  4. Oscar Rene Mu;oz Gutierrez

    GRACIAS POR TOMARME EN CUENTA Y PODER TENER LA OPORTUNIDAD DE CONOCER LOS SISTEMAS PRACTICOS QUE USTEDES OFRECEN. EXITOS EN TODO LO QUE EMPRENDAN. Saludos Cordiales.
    Atte.
    Oscar M./Industrias Mycenter S.A.
    Gte. Gral.

  5. asiye

    hi guy’s . i agree with you because i have been learn English and try more but i live in Iran an i couldn’t find some body very easy .
    i love chat with foreign people , does somebody can help me?

  6. nourollah asri

    i would like english language . . so i can not read or learnning this program . help me .
    teaching my language in what base ? i could not up program .
    i like comnucation . comphrention .. i do not know gramer . ./…. only gramer . i have weak gramer .
    teaching me gramer . ok

    i hope you understand . what i say ? ok …
    i love you . bye

  7. Fabia Alves

    Hello asiye,

    We are glad you like our blog.
    With busuu you can make friends and connect with native speakers who can help you improve your language skills.

    Ciao for now,
    Fabia

  8. Fabia Alves

    Hello nourollah,

    You can also improve your language skills by learning with busuu and it’s community of native speakers.

    Ciao for now,
    Fabia

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