In a lengthy comment to a previous post here, Billy the Kid had this to say.“It is emphatically not impossible to become native-like in one’s second language, even if one doesn’t come in contact with that language until adulthood” Is it realistic to expect to speak like a native in a foreign language, if we start studying as an adult? My answer is no. I think there are very few people who achieve this level of fluency in another language. I have probably dealt with thousands of people speaking a foreign language. I would have trouble remembering even a handful who spoke “just like a native”. There are people who speak well, but almost always they can be identified as foreign. And so what? No only is it not realistic to expect to speak like a native, it is not necessary. We learn languages either to enjoy them and the related culture, or to communicate with the natives of that language, for pleasure or work. None of this requires us to sound like a native. The native speaker is the model,?? the ideal which we seek to emulate, just as we may try to?? emulate Tiger Woods if we are a golfer. But we do not realistically expect to play golf like Tiger Woods, nor should we expect to speak like a native. The natives do not expect it either. We can try to get as close as possible to the ideal, to speak with as few mistakes as possible, to continuously improve. But if we fall short, we can still be satisfied. The thousands of people of all nationalities whom I have met, who had effective and practical control of English or other languages,?? achieved their language goals without sounding like a native. Non-natives can be better than natives in some aspects of the language. Joseph Conrad apparently had a pronounced Polish accent and yet was an outstanding figure of English literature. A highly educated non-native speaker can be more literate than some of the less well educated natives, or , in the case of English, spell better and even be more grammatically correct. But even the semi-literate native speaker will sound more native than most of these highly educated non-native speakers. ??