Practising with non-native speakers
I am fortunate enough to hang around with friends who are all at different levels of learning the same foreign language, and who are all fairly keen to speak it to each other. The people who are at a lower level learn a lot from the people who speak it really well. Me being somewhere in the middle, I am able to both learn and teach and it’s very satisfying. I find that when I listen to a non-native person speaking a foreign language, I understand more readily than when a native speaker is speaking it (provided, of course, that they have a certain level of language knowledge). I think it’s a combination of them speaking slower and more clearly, and being more likely to choose words that I know. Even when foreigners have very good language skills and speak quite quickly, I understand a lot more than when native speakers are talking.
I have a friend who also uses some foreign verbs in English ways (e.g. adding -ing, -ed), which is done in a joking way, but has also helped me learn some new words!
I know that ideally you would be talking to the most native of native speakers, but sometimes speed, accents, contractions, and slang get in the way. Especially for elementary and intermediate students, it might be advantageous to speak with more advanced non-native speakers. It’s a good way to consolidate your existing knowledge, as well as pick up a few new language along the way.
Have you found that speaking to other non-native speakers helps you?