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.
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.
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?