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Contemporary English Teachers


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''Teachers share a significant responsibility in  preparing young people to lead successful  and productive lives'' - Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership points out. The role of a teacher is very important, crucial even - there's no question about that. So who would you have teaching you English? Your friends and children?

The fact is that most of the English language teachers are not native speakers. Whereas before, the emphasis was on ''imitation'' of one of the accents - accepted standards of Englishes in Canada, America, Britain, Australia. However, this has changed, and in many ways, lessened the burden the teachers were carrying. Now, the emphasis is no longer on imitation, but proficiency is tested in other ways - everything else taken together. English is spoken worldwide. It is taught worldwide. The contemporary trend is to try to grasp this intercultural background.

What do you think of this? Is this a good thing or not? Why? How important do you think becoming ''assimilated'' in one culture is?

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I think it's alright. As long as the teacher knows what he or she is doing then it shouldn't really matter what nationality they are originally. I don't think accents are that important either unless they somehow interfere with the lessons but I doubt that is common. I think as long as the students are being taught proper grammar and given a wide vocabulary to learn then the accents would be a secondary worry.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here in Ecuador and Colombia, where I have been working for the last 6 months, there is a big demand for native English speakers. As a matter of fact, native English speakers are preferred even if they have hardly got any experience in teaching. In the beginning I was totally overwhelmed with my "Superstar" status here. Wherever I applied for a job, I was almost instantly hired on the basis alone that I am a native English speaker. So, in my own experience, I see a trend in many places where non-native teachers will always be a second choice.

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I first started work in 2002. We basically developed English review materials for Korean companies. In my first two years at work, I struggled because I'm constantly compared to my American contemporary. Admittedly, since English is only my second language - my contemporary was way better than me. I initially accepted that, but I soon observed that the American did have perfect grammar, but the cohesion of paragraphs are very much wanting. It took years before my Korean co-workers believed that even a non-native English speakers can actually be better at writing in English, too.

Anyway, budget aside - a lot of Koreans now recognize that Filipinos can actually make good English teachers. Over the past years, our Korean tourists have increased to flock to different cities in the country to learn English. A lot of them come here to get the fundamentals (as it's cheap here). Once they've built the confidence, they then immerse themselves to their real target countries, primarily U.S. and London in England.

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I think originally, there's this unspoken assumption that native speakers are the VERY BEST at all things English. However, that is definitely not always the case. I've seen a LOT of native speakers whose grammar and/or spelling was horrible to say the least, and not just the uneducated people either. I see doctors, lawyers, engineers making mistakes all the time. Whereas if someone became fluent through learning, I KNOW that person has near flawless grammar and could communicate just as well as a native speaker

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As a student I didn't like the idea of having a teacher that wasn't a native, mostly because there were things my teacher didn't know so much about, like for example cultural bits and so on. Also there are some idiomatic expressions that only a native will surely know!  I really liked the idea of my teacher being a native english speaker, my non native ones made so many awful pronunciation mistakes!

As a non native teacher tho... I did feel prepared to teach english, mostly because I lived ni the US for a while, so I knew things that non native teachers that have always live in Mexico didn't know.  I think  that really changes the things. I still think natives make better teachers of their own languages... I mean, f I think about it... how odd would it be if some American person was teaching Spanish?

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Here in Ecuador and Colombia, where I have been working for the last 6 months, there is a big demand for native English speakers. As a matter of fact, native English speakers are preferred even if they have hardly got any experience in teaching. In the beginning I was totally overwhelmed with my "Superstar" status here. Wherever I applied for a job, I was almost instantly hired on the basis alone that I am a native English speaker. So, in my own experience, I see a trend in many places where non-native teachers will always be a second choice.

This is very common in latino American, they always prefer to hire native english speakers, even if they don't have a lot experience teaching english. There mere fact of being a native english speaker is good enough for most schools and institutions.  In a way I do agree with them, in my opinion it's better for a native English speaker to teach english, but that is not always possible.

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That's right, I think that teacher should have new policy of teaching because the students requirement and demands are more than enough nowadays. And also in learning language the student should be centered and more focused.

Thanks 

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I think that if they know what they are doing then it's okay if they aren't a native speaker. We didn't have a native Spanish or French teacher at my school, but you could learn a lot from her. She was able to do her job well, and that is all that I think matters. I wouldn't mind if I had another teacher like that just because it doesn't matter so long as I am able to learn something.

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If I didn't speak a word of English and wanted to learn it, I personally wouldn't have minded if the teacher were a non-native speaker! BUT I have noticed that a lot of adverts in the Far East and Arab countries will specifically state that they want native speakers, it doesn't even matter if they have a teaching qualification or not! That I find shocking. I think it comes down to there being this snobbery over people who speak English as a second language. I'd be interested to know how these people actually fare in those roles. For me, it's all about that person's command of the language and their credentials to a degree. if they came highly recommended, all the better.

I lived in the UK for 13 years, and even some of my English friends would tell you themselves that when it comes to the intricacies of how the language functions, they are not very good at English.

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I don't care much about the race of my teacher, whether he/she is a native speaker of this particular language or not. As long as the teacher is knowledgeable enough to teach this particular language, and if he/she uses good language teaching methods, I am totally fine with it. Anyway, not all native English speakers are good in grammar and vocabulary. I know a lot of native English speakers who still don't know the difference between "your" and "you're."

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My English teachers back then were all Filipinos and non native English speakers. But they all taught well and imparted knowledge that I would not have known otherwise. So I'm extremely grateful for having them as my teachers. I think they speak and write English well for non native English speakers. And so for me, it doesn't really matter if they speak English natively as long as they have a good grasp of that language.

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I don't care much about the race of my teacher, whether he/she is a native speaker of this particular language or not. As long as the teacher is knowledgeable enough to teach this particular language, and if he/she uses good language teaching methods, I am totally fine with it. Anyway, not all native English speakers are good in grammar and vocabulary. I know a lot of native English speakers who still don't know the difference between "your" and "you're."

I totally agree with you, missbookwork! I lived in Bolton, a town in North West England for thirteen years and the people always told me I spoke 'posh English', even though I clearly have a non-English accent. This is because regional dialects don't always observe the formal language rules. This is why I sometimes worry when all these countries insist on recruiting any native speaker over someone who speaks English as a second language but who also has the qualifications to teach English. I think you'd have to visit different British towns to really get a feel of exactly what I mean. A few of my English friends even struggled with written English skills.

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I totally agree with you, missbookwork! I lived in Bolton, a town in North West England for thirteen years and the people always told me I spoke 'posh English', even though I clearly have a non-English accent. This is because regional dialects don't always observe the formal language rules. This is why I sometimes worry when all these countries insist on recruiting any native speaker over someone who speaks English as a second language but who also has the qualifications to teach English. I think you'd have to visit different British towns to really get a feel of exactly what I mean. A few of my English friends even struggled with written English skills.

I think there are many great non native English speaker teachers. Many of my friends teach English to Korean students or Japanese students. There are also companies that hire Filipinos to teach English to their workers or students. I think it's because English is taught to us very formally and we see it as the universal language. So we learn it more hoping that more job opportunities will be present when we are fluent in it. 

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My English teachers were all over the map. I wish I had better English teachers. Some were either trying to shove grammar down my throat and others were too focused on creative writing without any structure rules. I wish we all had a standardized instructional video or something. 

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I taught English for several years for children under 10, and it was mostly about games and bringing language down to their level. Of you could teach the body parts on a batman action figure you won the child for yourself :)

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I think there are many great non native English speaker teachers. Many of my friends teach English to Korean students or Japanese students. There are also companies that hire Filipinos to teach English to their workers or students. I think it's because English is taught to us very formally and we see it as the universal language. So we learn it more hoping that more job opportunities will be present when we are fluent in it. 

I'm glad to see that the tide is turning and the snobbery towards non-native English teachers is slowly but surely disappearing :) I guess i'm even more aware of the situation because English is my second language, and I'm a trained English teacher myself. In my country we have many professionally trained English teachers who are fully capable, too. It would be such a shame to see so many qualified English teachers across the world go to waste because of some ill-conceived notion that because English is not their first language, they couldn't possibly effectively teach the language. Long may this continue :)

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I think it's more a matter of how well they have mastered it.  I was lucky enough to have a French teacher who wasn't a native speaker, but did live in France for years.  He was able to explain the little things that Americans do while speaking French that annoy native speakers.  He also helped us with cultural differences. 

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I am not a native English speaker, English is my second language, but I am a teacher of English as a second language. What I can say is yes there is a big demand for native English speakers, even in my own country, Serbia, like everywhere, I am guessing; however, a great number of these native speakers do not have any experience teaching anything, let alone a language to people in a foreign country. Not to mention most of them are not even familiar with culture, background, history, language of the country they are teaching the language in. Add to that the lack of any pedagogical training, methodological background and the pure principle of the idea how to share knowledge, and what you get is just a bad teacher. Yes, they may speak English fluently, having any of the English accents, and may seem very professional in a way just by sounding well. However, it is all on the surface. I am not saying all of the native speakers are bad, not competent enough to be teachers; what I am saying is that they are being put forward, in front of the people who have got a degree in linguistics, teaching, etc.due to the very obvious fact - that they come from the English speaking country. That seems a big unfair to all of the people from different countries that put a lot of effort, money, energy and love into learning a language, only to be put on the side, or rejected for the simple fact that they were not born in some of the English speaking countries.

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I am not a native English speaker, English is my second language, but I am a teacher of English as a second language. What I can say is yes there is a big demand for native English speakers, even in my own country, Serbia, like everywhere, I am guessing; however, a great number of these native speakers do not have any experience teaching anything, let alone a language to people in a foreign country. Not to mention most of them are not even familiar with culture, background, history, language of the country they are teaching the language in. Add to that the lack of any pedagogical training, methodological background and the pure principle of the idea how to share knowledge, and what you get is just a bad teacher. Yes, they may speak English fluently, having any of the English accents, and may seem very professional in a way just by sounding well. However, it is all on the surface. I am not saying all of the native speakers are bad, not competent enough to be teachers; what I am saying is that they are being put forward, in front of the people who have got a degree in linguistics, teaching, etc.due to the very obvious fact - that they come from the English speaking country. That seems a big unfair to all of the people from different countries that put a lot of effort, money, energy and love into learning a language, only to be put on the side, or rejected for the simple fact that they were not born in some of the English speaking countries.

I just want to say that you did a wonderful job learning English.  In a lot of posts, I see many people who are fluent in English (including native English speakers!) make many grammar and spelling mistakes.  You have obviously worked hard. It's good that there are people like you teaching English. 

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I just want to say that you did a wonderful job learning English.  In a lot of posts, I see many people who are fluent in English (including native English speakers!) make many grammar and spelling mistakes.  You have obviously worked hard. It's good that there are people like you teaching English. 

You have just made my day. Thank you so much for lovely words. I have put a lot of effort, and lot of years, plus my parents put a lot of money in me, invested almost everything they had; it often used to happen they did not have any food in the fridge just because they sent all their money to me in another town, to finish my studies. In the end, I got a degree, and now I have been searching for a job for 4 long years, almost 5...I have had some jobs here and there, but seeing how much my country is being corrupted and everyone and everything revolves around money, just makes me sick in my stomach. Often, there are some kids coming to have some English lessons with me, telling me that their teachers of English did not explain anything to them. They often say what they would do was they would come to the class, tell them to open their books and read, taking turns. Then, they would go to a grammar section, the teacher would write the content from the book on the blackboard, they would copy/paste that in their notebooks, without any questions asked, or any time provided for any questions. Then, when they get to do the homework, they would come to me completely clueless..I am not sure what to say here, other that I have been utterly disappointed...

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It is truly frustrating for us who only speak English as a second language to be treated as second class citizens to native speakers. I agree that English being only our second language, there is truly some limitation to our capacity. But language schools should give us a little bit of credit. Hire English teachers on the basis of capacity and ability to teach the language and NOT on the basis of whether it is one's first or second language. I agree with the poster who said that sometimes the credential of the native speaker is only at the superficial level. Of course, they speak with perfect intonation but when it comes down to explaining sentence structure, grammar and what not, the native speakers can be found wanting. (Of course, I'm not speaking about the native speakers who truly have the credentials to teach.)

I guess focus should be given on ability. Native speakers will always have that edge over second-language speakers. But at least, native speakers should at least live up to that expectation and be able to transfer learning effectively. It is a rip-off to those who are trying to learn English and end up not learning anything because the native speaker fails to explain things.

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