Beyond Borders with Ethan #2: “Do I Need to Sound Like a Native?” | Hadar and Ethan’s Advice on Fluency

In this episode of the show I had an amazing conversation with Hadar Shemesh, an incredibly skilled and insightful accent and fluency coach from Israel. She moved to NYC when she was 21 to pursue acting, where she worked as a bartender at a Jazz club to support herself. According to her, she used to get criticized because of her strong Israeli accent, but acting helped her become a “diligent speech student.” We start off talking about how we can often feel uncomfortable speaking a foreign language because we can’t express our identity, and her experience of this while living in New York. We discuss why it is less important than you think to speak like a native, and much more important to discover how to speak like yourself. We cover extensively about native-speakerism and discrimination towards English learners and non-native teachers, and how you can overcome imposter syndrome and share your passion with the world. No matter where you are on your language learning journey, whether you are a non-native teacher or a student, you will get a lot out of this interview. So, let’s jump in!

Words You’ll Learn in the App

  • To come to terms
  • Persona
  • To set someone free
  • To carry over
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • To blow someone’s mind
  • To flip the switch
  • To take a stance into
  • To tiptoe around sth/sb
  • To take something with a grain of salt

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  • Hey guys, what’s going on?

    I think this is one of the most avant-garde standpoints when it comes to English speaking, learning, and teaching. I’m a non-native English teacher myself. I have never been abroad, I mean, never been to an English-speaking country and that does not make me less of a good teacher. I totally agree with Hadar mainly when it comes to this new trend of “don’t say thank you”, “never say this or that”. It’s commonplace here in Brazil YouTube channels native speakers saying “10 mistake Brazilians make”. Excuse me? “Don’t say you’re welcome anymore”. Excuse me? And the worst part is that a lot of Brazilian teachers are buying that idea and taking their students’ or audiences’ English to an unbelievable level of being careful with what you say or choosing words or idioms you should use instead of the other ones.

    • Agnieszka from RealLife English says:

      Thank you, Marcelo, for sharing it. You got the point! We wish you all the best!

    • David says:

      Absolutely agree with you. I live in China and have seen so much hatred towards the non native teachers. Some natives unfortunately forget that they don’t own the language or any kind of a golden standard of it. Any language is just a tool of expressing your thoughts and ideas and the idea that’s is being expressed is much more important than the grammar rules used or the word order etc. I really appreciate your comment and this podcast as well and will try to spread the message.