Will there be a difference in the way a non-native speaker of English teaches the language to a native speaker?
Diary submitted by Tom B. Valencia
Is TEFL a prejudiced industry (cf. immigration laws)? Is there place for non-native speakers of English?
At the language school where I am teaching, there is a wide variety of nationalities represented by those who are teaching English as a foreign language. For example, there are three of us who are native speakers, coming from England and Ireland, but there are also teachers from Italy, France and Hungary, who are all teaching English, and we share the workload between us. In this journal, I shall explore the differences in the way a native speaker teaches students and the way a non-native speaker teaches.
A native speaker of English may be more likely to have a more authentic accent and clearer pronunciation, however, there are differing accents in England, let alone the wider English speaking countries of the world, and a student may have difficulty in understanding someone from London, if they are only used to hearing English spoken by someone from Newcastle, or vice versa. A non-native speaker of English (NNS) must have a very high quality of the language and pronunciation in order to be able to teach; otherwise they might struggle to find employment, but with a high level of English, they should not have too many problems and following a survey conducted by Llurda, ‘pronunciation/accent did not affect the students’ attitudes towards their teachers’. On the other hand, Agudo mentions the fact that many EFL students feel that ‘listening to a good model (a native speaker) will result in good pronunciation, and listening to a bad model (an NNS) will result in poor pronunciation’. A student may request having a native speaker teach them because they feel they are more likely to receive a more authentic education of the language.
A non-native speaker will have had to learn English themselves in the past and therefore will have studied the grammar and vocabulary of the language in a similar way to that of the student they are teaching. A native speaker learns their own language in a different way, not focusing on grammar in lessons at school, and improving by talking and reading, and living their everyday lives. The student may feel that they may have more in common with an NNS, as they have experienced the same method of teaching. On the other hand, there will be intricacies in the language that only the native speaker will know, and this may lead to a more developed style of English that is being taught.
An NNS might also be the same nationality as the student they are teaching English to, and this may have both positive and negative effects. The student may start to depend on using their native language with their teacher, limiting the time in which they can actually speak and practise English as their target language. However, the shared nationality and culture may generate a strong rapport between the student and the teacher, which is necessary to help them to learn.
- Juan de Dios Martinez Agudo, Native and Non-Native Teachers in English Langauge Classrooms: Professional Challenges and Teacher Education
- Enric LLurda, Non-Native Language Teachers: Perceptions, Challenges, and Contributions to the Profession