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TEFL for non-native English speaking teachersEven according to more conservative estimates, English as a second language is spoken by around 430 million people. At the same time, the number of those who speak it as their mother tongue is around 400 million (Crystal 2003:67). Having turned into the prime language of international communication, English has gained and continues to gain a greater number of "users" compared to the number of those who are its "owners" as L1 speakers. Accordingly, the number of people learning English from "users" rather than from the "owners" themselves is considerable. It is therefore interesting to examine the role that non-native english speakers play in teaching English to other non-natives. Some authors draw attention to the difficulties a non-native speaker of English encounters while trying to act as a "well-informed source" on the English language from a linguistic as well as a cultural point of view (Medgyes 1999:31-36). Such problems include issues like the use of vocabulary, idioms, phrasal verbs, up-to-date slang, oral fluency, pronunciation or listening comprehension. At the same time, there are several advantages of teaching English as a non-native. Such teachers will usually have a better awareness of the English language (though often lacking proficiency). They will also be able to anticipate and prevent language difficulties or errors, and will be able to show empathy to learners, as someone who had fought their way through the same problems as the students themselves (Medgyes 1999:54-66). These experiences can help non-natives improve the efficiency of their teaching. native speakers, on the other hand, are perfect living models on both linguistic and cultural aspects of the use of English language ? a role that a non-native speaker would never be able to take on. Exploring the advantages and disadvantages of one or the other type of teacher provides us with useful insights into English teaching practices. However, the voice that often puts an end to such discussions is the voice of the employer ? the one who, at the end of the day, decides on the employability of the non-native speaker. A quick survey of recruitment websites of language schools in germany shows that applicants for English teaching jobs are often, though now always, confronted with the criterion of having to be a native speaker, or possess the passport of a Commonwealth nation. This is in line with the tendency described by George Braine, founding chair of the Non-native-speaker English Caucus in the tesol organization as follows: "Outside North America, in affluent countries, visiting native speakers are often preferred over local non-native speakers for the better paying teaching jobs" . Some language schools, e.g. Inlingua, do not openly state their hiring policy on their website, but might turn down non-native applicants nevertheless. Berlitz clearly recruits only native speakers. The Wall Street Institute website for germany uses a softer descriptor in its list of criteria: applicants need to have a "native speaker level of English" . Interestingly, this differs from their international website, according to which applicants are required to "be a native speaker of English" . In response to such hiring practices, tesol issued a statement on non-native speakers of English in October 1991 already . In their statement, they express their disapproval of policies that favour native speaker teachers over non-natives. Giving due consideration to such statements promoting equality and non-discrimination, it still needs to be taken into account that language schools are under pressure to satisfy certain expectations of their clientele. It is perfectly understandable, for example, if a learner of English, having traveled all the way to the UK to learn English, is disappointed to find that their assigned teacher is a non-native, and is unlikely to recommend the school to others. The perfect situation, according to two surveys conducted among ELT professionals (Medgyes 1999:70), would be to expose learners of English to a mix of native and non-native speakers. For an ideal learning experience, it seems that non-native speakers who put a conscious effort into continually improving their proficiency in English are just as indispensable as well-trained native speakers, who have a good level of awareness of their students' L1 and take their teaching seriously. Bibliography Crystal, David (2003). English as a Global Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Medgyes, Péter (1999). The non-native teacher. Ismaning: Hueber. http://nnesintesol.blogspot.com/2007/12/george-braine.html Retrieved on 11 March 2011. http://www.inlingua-franken.de/de/jobs/englisch Retrieved on 11 March 2011. http://www.wallstreetinstitute.de/service/jobs/teachers-mf.html Retrieved on 11 March 2011. http://www.wallstreetinstitute.com/jobSeekers/teachingStaff/teachingStaff.aspx Retrieved on 11 March 2011. tesol Statement on non-native speakers of English and hiring practices, October 1991. Retrieved from http://nnest.asu.edu/articles/TESOL_Statement%5B1%5D.pdf on 11 March 2011.