The basic meaning of ‘native speaker‘ is widely debated, but in general it is accepted that it means someone who learned the language from a young age in an environment where native speakers were present. Non-native speakers typically learn the language at later stages, perhaps from their elders or by watching other people speak. While it is common to hear people speaking in non-native languages, it does not necessarily follow that they are native speakers, or that they are able to accurately and easily convey their native languages.
‘Native speaker’ is not, however, limited to languages spoken in this country. Some other languages are considered ‘native’, but in most countries the exact definition of ‘native speaker’ is subject to debate. For example, in many societies native speakers may only be able to converse in their native language in social settings, such as at a family gathering, a school reunion or the wedding reception. They may speak in the mother tongue only when communicating with other people outside of those contexts. In these cases the person is said to have ‘learned’ the language through contact with native speakers.
‘Natural speaker’ refers to those who learn a second language as adults because they did not learn it as a baby and so have little need to learn it again. Most studies of second languages report that people learn them as adults because they do not seem to benefit from learning them as infants or toddlers. For example, in Canada, children who speak only English at home tend to develop a stronger sense of Canadian national identity, whereas those who speak both English and French at home are more likely to develop a strong sense of national identity as adults.
While it is possible to learn a second language just as quickly as you can learn a native speaker, there are some situations in which it is better to learn a language at an early age. If you intend to travel abroad, you will probably need to learn at least one foreign language before you embark on your journey. You may also need to be aware of the customs and laws of your host country, and so it may make sense to learn both English and a second language before you travel. There are also times when you will require a second language to perform at work, such as being a medical translator, or teacher, or to be prepared to do a job interview. in another country.
There are many factors which contribute to determining whether someone is a native speaker or a non-native speaker. It is worth noting, however, that there are plenty of non-native speaking native speakers in the world and you can learn a second language just as easily if you follow these tips.