Sarah676

Does anybody else find it easier to learn from non-native speakers?

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Over the course of my schooling, I've had the opportunity to take Japanese classes from a variety of different teachers, and I've notived an interesting trend where I find it a lot easier to learn from non-native Japanese speakers. I think this is because with native speakers, since they never had to consciously learn the rules of their language (they mostly learned them intuitively as they were growing up), they are not able to explain the rules as clearly as somebody who's had to consciously learn the language when they were older.

I imagine this is true not just for learning Japanese, but for learning any language. I currently work as an ESL tutor, and I've noticed that sometimes I really struggle to explain certain aspects of the English language because I've never really had to think about them - I've always just known English without ever havign to consciously learn it.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else found this to be the case?

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I think there are both benefits and inconvenience in having a native Japanese professor. The negative parts are, like you said, they learned their language as they were growing up so they might not be able to explain it well to their students.

But looking at the other side of the coin, they are natives so they know A LOT more than those who are non-natives. They should be able to answer a lot of questions that non-natives (particularly those who haven't lived in Japan for a long period of time) can't answer.

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Agreed. There are a lot of tips and tricks that someone who needed to practice will know that the natural speaker might not. I think this is true with most, if not all skills. On the contrary, there might also be some details that a native speaker might know of that a non-native speaker never picked up on. However, I think as far as basic learning goes, just in general, I think a non-native speaker might be able to empathize more with the whole experience, so like I said, yes I do agree. :)

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Well... So far I've only had classes with native Japanese speakers. I think that the beginner grammar stuff should be taught by non-native speakers, though. My teachers are awesome, but I think they sometimes didn't understand what our problems were, and we were a bit too intimidated to ask for more details and sometimes we didn't even realise that we don't exactly understand... If you follow me.

I'm very grateful I can have classes with native speakers, though, especially now.

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Most definitely.  I have started teaching myself a language in the past using various "Teach Yourself" style text books focusing on grammar, and later engaged native speaking tutors to learn how to speak in a more natural and idiomatic manner.  It was a frustrating experience because I found the tutors frequently made grammatical mistakes, or simply didn't understand the structure of their own language at all, having picked it up instinctively since childhood.  Perhaps those grammatical mistakes were correctly idiomatic according to some obscure rules not mentioned in the Teach Yourself books, but the problem was that there was no way of knowing for sure.  My father learned English as a second language, and his knowledge of English grammar was always far superior to the general populace of England, even university students. 

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For me, it depends. When I want to study conversation, of course I'd go talk to my Japanese friends. Otherwise, if I want to improve writing, grammar, etc., I would go attend classes here in my country. My school doesn't have Japanese teachers except when you're already on advanced level.

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Over the course of my schooling, I've had the opportunity to take Japanese classes from a variety of different teachers, and I've notived an interesting trend where I find it a lot easier to learn from non-native Japanese speakers. I think this is because with native speakers, since they never had to consciously learn the rules of their language (they mostly learned them intuitively as they were growing up), they are not able to explain the rules as clearly as somebody who's had to consciously learn the language when they were older.

I imagine this is true not just for learning Japanese, but for learning any language. I currently work as an ESL tutor, and I've noticed that sometimes I really struggle to explain certain aspects of the English language because I've never really had to think about them - I've always just known English without ever havign to consciously learn it.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else found this to be the case?

Oh, I would definitely agree! Non-native speakers of language X, favorably speakers of your mother langue have been through the SAME problems in language X as you are (or will be). Therefore, it makes sense that they can explain you (sometimes) things better than native speakers of language X. This especially holds true for grammar and writing, I agree with that as well.

For some matters, as speaking and pronunciation, it might come in handy to have a native-speaker as a teacher, as their pronunciation/speaking is obviously perfect.

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Yes, you are absolutely right. In my own experience, I have also noticed that non-native speakers can teach you about certain "mental crutches" that will help you to better remember grammar and vocabulary rules. But on the other hand, I often found it disadvantageous not to be able to properly pronounce certain words, as non-native teacher usually have thick accents. :)

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I think that's its a good idea to learn from native speakers, because they might find some way or another to do a spelling or a grammar, still non-native speaker can teach you a language but it's might not be as easily as someone who have learned it before, because they will show you a way to learn.

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I've learned English with a non-native speaker and I would agree with you. I might not be as good at speaking fluently in English, but I use proper grammar because he really did explain the rules really well to me. The native speaker will actually focus on speaking and pronunciation more than grammar. That's what I personally think.

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The advantage of learning from a non-native is the he/she has had to study all the mechanics of the language - grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation, etc. He is probably more in tune with the actual structure of the language. Native speakers, although speaking the language fluently, often can't explain the grammar of their own language. (Being a native English speaker, I can attest to the fact that many, many native English speakers haven't a clue when it comes to how English grammar works.) I started studying Russian with a native speaker, and he couldn't explain the grammar at all!

However, I think learning from a native speaker is equally important. Only natives can teach exact proper pronunciation (and hear mistakes you make that you don't hear, and that a non-native speaker wouldn't pick up on), idioms, subtleties of words that you won't find in a dictionary, and conversational speech.

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Spot on, Sarah!  What you said really makes sense, I'm not a native English speaker myself, hence when my students asked me something regarding to certain verbs and idioms it wasn't so hard to answer, because as non native English speaker teaching English I had to think about every aspect of the language (or almost) in order to start teaching it.

I still preferred to be taught by a native tho,  mostly because their pronunciation was much better.  There were some teachers that weren't natives, but I lied their teaching styles.

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Agreed. There are a lot of tips and tricks that someone who needed to practice will know that the natural speaker might not. I think this is true with most, if not all skills. On the contrary, there might also be some details that a native speaker might know of that a non-native speaker never picked up on. However, I think as far as basic learning goes, just in general, I think a non-native speaker might be able to empathize more with the whole experience, so like I said, yes I do agree. :)

I totally agree with you!  Non-natives surely have a lot useful tips to share, plus they make you feel less nervous or intimidated.  But I noticed having a non-native as a teacher can backfire, specially if the students and the non-native teacher speak the same language.

When I was teaching the kids obviously knew what my mother language was... it was their mother language as well!  So they often tried to speak in our language!  That's bad, because hey weren't even trying to put the effort to communicate their ideas in English.

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I think this is totally true. Non-native speakers have to put a lot more work into remembering the grammar structures and spelling of words and phrases while they're learning the language. While you're learning they drill this deep into your mind, so  it become hard to forget. As a result, they're probably better than a native speaker. That's not always the case though, but it's certainly a trend!

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Well it depends really. If the native speaker is a language teacher also then you're going to have a great time learning but if the native speaker is just a normal guy then he/she might not provide you with the best lessons. The way I see it, if you want to learn a new language inside out, find a language teacher that speaks the language your learning.

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I think what mostly matters is that your teacher understands both your native tongue and the language they are teaching very well.  It also helps if they have sat down to learn a language themself, rather than just growing up bi-lingual.  That's part of why I like the "Talk to me in Korean" podcasts.  One of the main hosts doesn't have any particular accent when speaking English, so I think he's Korean-American.  He will often point out things that I've wondered about, like how the "m" sound in Korean often sounds like a "b" to Anglo ears. The other host doesn't hear how similar they sound, because it's inherent to the language. On the other hand, she definitely learned English in school (she has a small accent), and will point out things that seemed strange to her when learning English as a way to emphasize that what we are learning in Korean works differently than English.

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That's true, native speakers may have learn rules of the language unconsciously, and may have taken it for granted. They may not be the best to explain the rules of their language, unless they themselves have studied it thoroughly or as a subject. A non-native speaker on the other hand needs to first learn the rules of the language, and therefore, once enlightened, can easily give you that knowledge. Also they may be able to teach it in a very easy form compared to native speakers, who are already at a complex level.

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What you all said is true. I want to add another factor: the non-native speaker teacher has gone through the same learning process he or she is now imparting to the student. In some cases that helps teachers have a better understanding of the thought processes of their students. They can understand better why students are a stuck on a certain problem, which are the possible pitfalls they could meet, what to say to make a concept simple to someone who thinks in another language. Clearly this is assuming that both the teacher and the student are native speakers of the same language.

I think non-native teachers can be just as good or even better than native speakers, assuming they have a very thorough knowledge of the language they're teaching, obviously.

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I would have to agree with you. I think this is because non-native speakers pay more attention to the spelling and grammar rules than native speakers. For instance, non-native English speakers are more accurate in punctuation and grammar than native English speakers. It is actually surprising when you meet an American who can't spell words properly.

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Over the course of my schooling, I've had the opportunity to take Japanese classes from a variety of different teachers, and I've noticed an interesting trend where I find it a lot easier to learn from non-native Japanese speakers. I think this is because with native speakers, since they never had to consciously learn the rules of their language (they mostly learned them intuitively as they were growing up), they are not able to explain the rules as clearly as somebody who's had to consciously learn the language when they were older.

I imagine this is true not just for learning Japanese, but for learning any language. I currently work as an ESL tutor, and I've noticed that sometimes I really struggle to explain certain aspects of the English language because I've never really had to think about them - I've always just known English without ever having to consciously learn it.

What do you guys think? Has anyone else found this to be the case?

I strongly agree with you, for the most part. I have always thought about this possibility being fact, and I've seen it in action, because in most of my encounters with language teachers, those who were not native speakers of the language I was being taught, really did seem to have a tighter handle on the grammar tools and rules, vocabulary distinctions, and handy "language hacks" that'll make learning this new language easier .

I also agree with you, that perhaps the reason why it was easier to learn from a non-native speaker of the language, was that a native speaker probably never had to formally study the language, say, at the tertiary level, so they would "know everything" by nature and exposure, but not necessarily be able to explain why they or their language subscribe to the different unique principles that define that language, but a person who has been formally studied that language at a high level, I think, has a greater understanding of the technical breakdown of it.

That being said, I think some of my best teaching has come from native speakers of the language , because they have actually done the formal training themselves, and have the added benefit of speaking the language as natives , so it's like they have the perfect balance between experience and schooling , allowing us to get "the full immersion experience", while understanding the principles and good learning techniques, both at the same time!

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Both of the teachers that I had in the past were pretty much born bilingual because of their environment. One was born in Montreal, so she had to learn both English and French, and the other was born in Canada, but in an Italian household.

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I'm an English teacher, even though English is not my native tongue.  My husband is American and a native speaker. 

There was one time when we had the same student.  After having classes with my husband and I, my student felt that I'm a better teacher than my husband who is a native speaker.  He felt I can explain grammatical concepts and differences in vocabulary meanings better.

Even though my husband has used English all of his life, I have a better understanding of the English language because I studied it in school.  As an English major, I feel like I have a better grasp of English grammar and as a trained teacher, I can definitely instruct an ESL student better.

That's why I'm of the belief that just because someone is a native speaker, it doesn't automatically mean he can teach that language.  Most native speakers don't think much about their language.  They just use it; it doesn't always mean they can explain better.

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If for not the correct pronunciation alone, I am always hesitant to take any foreign language classes from a non-native. I've made this mistake before and when I was corrected by several natives, I ended up having to double-check everything the non-native teacher was teaching. I would rather have native pronunciation and less perfect grammar, than vice versa.

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I find it really interesting that you would say that- I've never really considered it. I can see how that could be the case, though, and a non-native speaker could relate a little better to someone learning it as a second (or third, etc.) language. They might be better able to address the issues of a non-native speaker. I suppose if they had a fair amount of experience with the language, and were comfortable with it, there's no reason that learning from a non-native speaker couldn't be just as well, if not better.

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Could the reason be intimidation? With Native Speakers as teachers, we students sometimes feel a bit inferior and intimidated by the Native Speaker's language level. That is, we can't help compare our own proficiency (or lack thereof when just starting) and that somehow paralyzes our learning? As with non-native speakers, teaching method is a bit toned-down as the NNS teacher somehow tries to go down to the level of the student, instead of forcing student to meet the teacher's level. At least, that's how I see NS teachers. There is the expectation that student try to achieve the speaker's level. So it becomes harder for the student.

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