Can an ESL Student ever become a NATIVE SPEAKER?

esl to native

(Photo credit:

One answer:  Absolutely!

I say this because I know many people who were born in non-English speaking countries, lived in their non native English country for a long time, and are now speaking English like a native.

So the question is how did they do it?

3 ways:

  1. They all had to learn it through school or courses and went from the lowest level to as high as they could go.

They knew that there was no easy path, and mastering English is no different to mastering anything, you have to learn from the best and know it all takes time.

  1. They all had a clear personal goal for learning the language .

For each person it varies, but here are the most common:

  • To become an ESL teacher themselves
  • To be able to travel easily and see the world
  • To meet a future partner from the English speaking world
  • To enjoy the books, films and television from the English speaking world
  • To work in an international organisation
  • To just enjoy the language
  1. They all had an unstoppable drive to reach their goal no matter what.

They knew full well that no one gets anywhere without drive. They took (and still take) every opportunity to use their English whenever possible and if their passport allows it, they travel and try to stay in an English speaking country for as long as they can.

So I guess what I am saying is that if you are a non native speaker and are striving to be able to speak like a native YOU WILL achieve your goal, but only if you know you want it more than anything.

Go ahead – just keep going and going and going.


12 thoughts on “Can an ESL Student ever become a NATIVE SPEAKER?

      • Agree! I’m reading some articles about English writing now . I got that website from your website. I’m ready to learn. I have ever read from a book, “it needs 10 thousands hours to be an expert in English writing. Everything needs times and process. I’ll wait your next post.

  1. Yes, it can be done. I’m more competent now in English than I am in my native language. That’s after spending two decades in the UK, and working for the publishing industry, including as a proofreader.

    In my observation, it depends where your “ceiling” is, though, rather than the time and effort spent, although these factors are, of course, important. Besides inborn linguistic ability (some of us are just naturally better at it), your native language is also a determining factor. English is a Germanic language, and if your native language is in that group, you’ll find it a whole lot easier to reach a very high level of English. Besides a residual accent, prepositions is where most people will trip up. It’s the last thing you learn to get right, and the first thing that slips when you stop using English on a daily basis.

    • I am so pleased to hear that…I think the whole native English speaker thing should really come down to competence rather than where you were born. Many of my friends who I would consider native speakers, actually know more about English than their own language because they had to seriously study it…. that is of course, why you are so good now too.

      • Yes I just checked it out now. Really good. To learn through reading is the ultimate, but you are true, taking it in small bites is the way to do it. You need a lot of training before you can take on that marathon, as you say! But training is really what everyone is doing as they are developing their English skills.

      • The trouble with English (and that’s not the only language where this applies) is that you have no clue how a word is actually pronounced until you’ve actually heard someone say it. Spanish and German, on the other hand, are nicely phonetic, so that hurdle doesn’t exist.

  2. I’ve known and met many ESL speakers over the years and while sounding exactly like a NES (Native English Speaker) may not be possible, a good number are very proficient to the point where they could fool a native speaker. It takes lots of practice and hard work at learning the grammar and nuance of the language (slang and idioms, meanings in context, etc.).

    • I agree. I do feel that because someone has a certain passport should not advantage or disadvantage them. To me a native speaker and someone who speaks as good as a native speaker are just the same. Who would ever know the difference unless you asked to see their passport. However I think that a non native speaker who does not speak English proficiently should be measured as such and be given the title of a ‘non native speaker’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s