I've seen advanced graduate courses for languages, in which the level of the language itself is higher than average for the average native speaker. I was wondering if there was any research on whether it would have a different effect on a native speaker versus someone a second language learner.

For example, if a native Spanish speaker from a Spanish-speaking country chose to improve their Spanish skills, would the effect of the same method be different from a second language learner?
Or would the disparity in each individual's learning effectiveness make this ordeal trivial?

I'm using English and Spanish as examples for the question since, according to this article, Spanish has a Category I ranking of difficulty for Spanish speakers. I do believe the question still stands for native speakers of other languages since the question is for people who are around the same level of Spanish before taking the advanced classes.

  • Okay. That changes things a little. Advanced language courses for a given language where it was learned outside of the culture would be beneficial because of the (probably) limited exposure to literature and the like. Whereas native cultural speakers would probably gain insight into the grammatical aspects of the language, but not much more than that. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:34
  • (1) What level is "advanced" exactly? C1/C2 in the CEFR (or ILR 3/4)?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 20:48
  • 1
    (2) I once attended an advanced (C1) writing course for German, where they had also sent a native speaker of German because his writing was very bad and they couldn't find a similar course for native speakers. So SLA courses can sometimes be useful for native speakers. (3) There are Chinese language schools in Germany that accept both native speakers of Chinese (born in Germany) and second language learners. The native speakers need to become more comfortable with the written language, but they speak Chinese fluently, so second language learners are often out of their depth in these courses.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


In my experience, I've found that while most of the content taught in both types of classes are very similar, the teaching styles themselves can be quite different.

Classes for second language learners tend to

  • be more connected to the SLL's native language (for example, comparisons might be made between words in the two languages that mean the same thing)
  • be more centered around the SLL's culture (for example, while a advanced-level native English course might be analyzing Shakespeare, a group of Hispanophones learning English may be dissecting Don Quixote translated into English)
  • have foreign teachers that can speak the target language fluently, but are also fluent in the language of the learners (in the Spanish example above, the class might have a teacher that is a native Spanish speaker but can speak English fluently)
  • be less analytical and deep about literature (while native language classes might delve into the motifs of complex literature, even the most advanced non-native classes only go so far as introducing basic figurative language, such as similes or metaphors)

All in all, if you are considering taking a course in a second language, it's almost always better to take a course specifically designed for non-native speakers, unless you have a very strong grasp on the language.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.