TEFL English, Japalish and Americalish

I would like to briefly consider the complexity of a non ? native English teacher in contrast to a native English teacher. My curiosity in this area has stemmed from participating on a TEFL course as a native English speaker. The diversity of students resulted in the course consisting of several students where English is their second language. It also highlighted the immense difference between ?American English? and ?British English?. The initial perception the non ? native English speakers generally voiced, was that the ?natives? had a head start. The more this was unravelled the benefits soon became a rather grey area.

?A non- native teacher is a learner for life? Malgorzata Swwaj,English Unlimited, Poland. 1999

The fine line that can potentially exist when teaching English to advanced pupils is one that can be perceived to be finer when you are both a learner and a teacher. However that would be to presume that those who are born native speakers are no longer learners of their language? a bold statement in its self. Thus the constant adverts in the press in search for ?native English speakers only? may share this belief that they are requiring the perfected genuine article. It raises the question as to what is the perfect background for teaching English, is there one and what are the benefits of both camps.

The teacher who is still learning English can be either native or non-native but for the purpose of this discussion we will presume the native is deemed competent to a high standard in their language. The pre conception of the students. The non-native speaker who may still be in the learner role can use this not only to empathise with their students but also to develop their professional selves. Depending on the language structure to those they teach they maybe able to draw correlations to the students to give greater or clearer understanding. Although the native speaker may provide other insights into the understanding of the language such as sociocultural clues.

The teacher?s image. If the teaching of a language is meant to reflect the culture of the language, where does the culture of English lay? England, America, Australia, St Kitts? These are all English speaking countries with very different cultures.

As the ever-increasing demand for TEFL teachers emerges an increasing requirement to learn what can be described as ?International English? evolves.

?? because the focus of learning English is shifting from Native- like competence to international intelligibility, the term ?EFL (English as a Foreign Language)? may be changed into (English as an International Language)? Yamaguchi ? Towards International English in EFL Classrooms in Japan

Yamaguchi goes on to discuss whether it should be a standardised British standard or American. As discussed earlier the problems of potentially teaching either standardised options is not very realistic or appropriate for educational or socio-cultural views. England, a small country is divided by dialects, accents and regional varieties. In countries such as Japan the actual contact for the average English student with native speakers is very limited, in 1996 there were 4 non ? native English speakers for every native. The model and debate for creating the ?International English? has been ongoing since the early seventies. Jenkins (1998) created the ?idea of a ?common core? creating core sounds and set stress on pronunciation. Her plan was to have this facilitated through enrichment of teacher training that native and non-native English teachers can teach. For countries like Japan where they are ever excepting of their increasing loaned words or Japalish this method may be a success due to the knowledge of English vocab however the adjustment to relearning the stresses could prove problematic.

?English is unique in many aspects. No other language has achieved the status that English has now. The point is not whether this English expansion is good o bad but the fact that a ?vehicle? that enables international communication.? HLT Magazine (November 2001)

Author: Emma Phillips

Date of post: 2006-11-20