Teach English in Yanji Zhen - Suqian Shi

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There are a lot of semplifications and assumptions about teaching a language, the first and most common being the conviction that a good language teacher should be a native speaker. First of all, what am I referring to when I use the term native or non-native speaker? When I say native speaker I speak about someone who has learned English as their first language, while a non-native speaker is someone who has learned the language as second (or third), someone who's first language is different. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages in both. The first point I will discuss is pronounciation and fluency. A good pronounciation and fluency are important when teaching English (or other foreign languages, but for the purpose of this essay I will only consider English), but it is not the most important quality a teacher should have nor is a native speaker's prerogative to have it. Native speakers are more fluent and they have a cultural background that is a great example to teach the learners how to use the language properly. But there are also other things to consider. Nowadays English is a very popular language, it is used all around the world by a lot of people coming not only from different countries but also from different backgrounds. For this reason, it could be of help being able to understand accents different from the "standard" one. Also, it is not uncommon for a non native speaker to have pronounciation and fluency as good as the one of a native speaker, for a number of different reasons, for example having spent a good amount of time abroad working or studying. Finally, we are in an era where teachers can easily have a lot of aids at their disposal. Social networks, like YouTube, services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, but also websites tailored for students like BBC Learning English (http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/) can provide incredibly useful video and audio resources to be used in the classroom so that the students can experience a lot of different – and real – ways of communicating in English. The second point I will discuss is the knowledge of the language. It is often assumed that native speakers know the grammar better. While it may be true in some cases, it's not so obvious as one might think. A native speaker may know the grammar more from experience than from a teaching point of view. When you speak the language everyday from when you are born, the rules and the grammar and the meanings are internalized and it can prove difficult to teach them to others. This could particularly happen because native speaker are often hired as teachers simply for their natural language skill and not for their teaching competences. Teaching comptences are not to be underestimated: a skilled and trained teachers should be able to understand learners difficulties and help solve them. Another possible problem that native speakers may encounter is that they have do not have the experience of having to learn the language, and this brings me to my third point. The third point is what I shall call empathy. A consequence of not having to learn the language, but being born within it, is that the native speaker may not be able to understand the struggles and difficulties of a learner and may also result in an unattainable model for the students. It could be considerably easier for a non-native speaker to better explain the target language, also because of their experience being similar to the experience of the learner. Of course, I'm considering the issue from my point of view, the point of view of a non-native speaker teaching English, so I am biased on the subject in a way, but I recognize the major advantages a native speaker has. Native speakers are familiar and fluent with the language and can be creative and flexible with it. They undoubtedly have the upper hand but they are not to be considered inherently good because of it. All things considered, I believe a good teacher is not to be judged by them being native or non-native, but by their ability to convey the language, by the passion they put into designing their lessons and by their willingness to be of help for their students.