Teaching English as a Foreign Language for Non Native English Teachers How many of the students learning


How many of the students learning English as a foreign language have had the chance of having native teachers' I don’t believe they are that many. The reasons are various: not many of them (students as well as native teachers) are willing to travel; costs are usually much higher; the students are afraid that their English level is not strong enough to have a teacher that can only communicate in English, etc.

This last reason is one of the most common because learners are so used to having a teacher that speaks their mother tongue and explains in their own language different expressions, words, grammar issues, etc. They do not know that even if the teacher does speak their native language, it is much better if he doesn’t use it at all. Any other method of explaining new words (miming, pictures, games, words associations, etc) is better than simply translating.

While teaching in a private school in France, I realised that French “English teachers” (especially public school teachers), usually tend to speak more French than English during the lessons. They are concentrating more on writing and reading skills than on speaking and listening. I know that because my students expected the same teaching methods during my lessons.

My students could not understand the reason why, even if I could speak French perfectly, I was constantly using English to explain everything to them. They were participating reluctantly in our games that were forcing them to speak English just because they were used to only reading and writing in English.

However, I met some non-native English teachers (French as I was in France) who were teaching in international private schools and most of them were constantly trying to improve their teaching skills. We had very interesting conversations about problems they had encountered, solutions to improve the well known “cute French” accent and methods to make our students talk more during our classes as we all experienced the same issues. I realized then, that it was not important the fact that they were native or not. What counted the most was that they were very gifted teachers, trying to improve their method of teaching and giving 100% of themselves when trying to find different fun ways of interacting with their students.

Reading some articles about non-native English TEFL teachers confirmed my theory. The authors argue that non-native teachers, usually have very prestigious diplomas to prove that they CAN teach, as well as qualifications from institutes of higher learning and most likely they have a very good knowledge of grammar and a good experience in teaching. Many of native teachers don’t have or at least are NOT required to have any kind of training in second language development and they will need guidelines to be able to start teaching. The simple fact of speaking English properly is enough confirmation of their value as teachers.

And maybe native teachers should feel superior compared to the non- native teachers from a pronunciation point of view, but many of the non native teacher spend more and more time in English speaking countries (exchange programs during college, summer jobs, etc.) so their level in English is somewhere near “native”.

But this is not a good enough reason to reject very good, hardworking passionate non-native teachers. In fact, non-native TEFL teachers will more likely detain more advantages than “visiting” native teachers with no experience in teaching or practice what so ever. For example, non native teachers, having already dealt with the same kind of issues as their students, will come up with brilliant ideas to avoid different problems they might have already encountered in their teaching career, as well as in their personal learning experience. Non-native teachers will have solutions to many delicate issues and they will more likely know better how to deal with the students. They can share their own experience in learning English and encourage as well as motivate their students to keep on trying and improving their pronunciation, reading skills etc. because this is what a good teacher should do: be a good example for his students.