My name is Frances, and I love sounding like a native speaker in whatever language I’m speaking. Growing up, I learned Mandarin thanks to my Taiwanese parents. Even though I had never lived in Taiwan, when I visited during the summers, people would assume I was a local, as opposed to an ABC (American-born Chinese). My young mind soon equated speaking another language with passing off for a native speaker.
So when a random manga book in the local library sparked my interest in Japanese, I made it my mission to speak the language like a Japanese person. Thanks to great teachers, friends, and the internet, by the time I finally went to Japan for a summer program my freshman year, I could pass off as a local. The process, though, took me six long years. You can read about it here.
After that, I decided to try my hand at Korean… and this time, I was able to achieve my goal much sooner. After my junior year of college, I was fortunate to be able to take a gap year in Seoul. In the beginning of my time there, I was continually frustrated when strangers I approached for directions would reply to me in English. I knew my foreign-sounding Korean was why. Slowly and steadily, however, I worked my way up to sounding like a native speaker. Towards the end of my year in Seoul, whenever I made new Korean friends, they would think I was a Korean.
Of course, I’m not a native speaker. I still encounter new vocabulary every day and my intonation slips up here and there. Like anyone else, my languages deteriorate when I don’t practice them. But after a decade of language-study I have honed my method to get to what I call “near-native fluency.” It allows me to pass for a native speaker in most circumstances I need.
I started this blog so I could reflect on my life and language-learning. I hope that the language-learning part of it can help anyone who’s ever wanted to “sound more natural,” to stop getting “confused stares,” or to simply become a more confident speaker. I also plan on including tips for learning East Asian languages–since they are a world apart from the Western European languages most of us are familiar with.
If this interests you, make sure to sign up for my mailing list, where I share free tips and tricks on sounding more like a native speaker.