Teach English in Suolun Zhen - Xing'an Meng — Hinggan

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There is a common perception that being a native speaker is enough to teach English as a foreign language and many students would prefer to be taught by native speakers regardless of their competence in teaching language. While this point of view can be supported with some obvious and viable reasons, I would like to advocate for TEFL by non-native speaking teachers based on my personal experience. The first and most important advantage of non-native speaking teachers is that we have experienced similar issues and setbacks along the road of learning English as a foreign language. We have overcome the many obstacles along the way and have figured out how to access and utilize tools to facilitate language acquisition and absorption. We have walked this path and have been in the same shoes as our students. That gives us confidence to share the knowledge with students who have just started or are in the middle of their English language journey. We can help students to effectively study English from whatever point they happen to be at the moment, as we too dealt with and struggled with similar issues at some point of our own journey. While working on improving my receptive skills, reading and watching videos in English have proven to be extremely beneficial. Reading a variety of materials, from recipes to newspaper articles to novels helps to increase vocabulary and develop the feeling of the language on an intuitive level. Watching movies and news broadcasts is helpful for learning formal and informal language; it also illustrates and demonstrates the intonation in natural circumstances. Secondly, learning English as a foreign language we have acquired the skills of explaining grammar and phonology and understanding why and how to use the language point. These are the areas that cause native speaking teachers the greatest amount of difficulty, as learning English as a mother tongue has allowed them to use it intuitively and see some language aspects as obvious. It is extremely important for students to obtain the skills of language analysis, to understand how different words form, then how the words form into sentences and sentences into speech. I remember the exciting feeling of freedom and power I experienced when I was taught phonology at a later stage of my learning journey. Once I acquired the phonemic and pronunciation rules I felt a huge sense of relief about being able to read and pronounce new words based on the phonemic rules instead of memorizing pronunciation of every single word. I was fascinated about the language itself and about the opportunities that opened up once the basic language rules were clear and applicable. Looking at new words in context and analyzing them using the parts of speech and tenses system knowledge helped me to operate the language points more freely and be more creative with the language. As a non-native speaking teacher of EFL I am willing and able to guide the students on their personal learning journeys. Of course, consistent controlled practice at Study stage is an integral part of giving students the confidence of using the language in real life communicative situations. Finally, as non-native speakers we prove, with our own example, that it is possible to speak English fluently and pass the stage of knowing the language but not being able to communicate in natural and real time situations. Maximum exposure to the language or using it in a multi-national and multi-lingual environment (as is the case for me here in Vietnam) benefits students a great deal at any stage of learning and improving English. Needless to say that having a real and concrete purpose for using the language is a tremendous motivation for learning; while overcoming the fear of communication in a foreign language and using every opportunity to speak is an essential step to improving productive, communicative skills. It is easier for us to encourage and act as role models for those students who do not dare to think they will be able to reach the fluency of their native speaking teachers. Besides the benefits of TEFL by non-native speaking teachers to students I have explored above, I think it is crucial to stress the benefit of TEFL for non-native speaking teachers themselves. Teaching English is an effective way of improving ones language skills by regular revision of different language points and rules that might be overlooked or conveniently forgotten over time of using the language and not being in a formal learning environment where you are being challenged and/or corrected. In essence, the only disadvantage of not being a native speaker can be used to teacher’s and students’ benefit in numerous ways. Provided that a non-native speaking teacher has an advanced level of language and is constantly absorbing new and different materials, he or she can be a great resource, example and guide for teaching English to other EFL learners.