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Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a non-Native TEFL Teacher

Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a non-Native TEFL Teacher | ITTT | TEFL Blog

When you think of a TEFL teacher you immediately expect it to be a native speaker, but I think it will be surprisingly interesting to have a non-native speaker as a teacher.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Reem A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Efforts of Learning

English is not their first language so in order to become fluent they would have had to go through the process of learning the language. This means that they have done the exact same thing their students are doing. They will understand how the students are feeling, what problems they may be having and how to keep them interested and motivated to learn. Having a non-native speaker English teacher is positive to show the students that it is possible to learn the language and be great at it.

Also Read: Why is establishing rapport important?

Rapport and Explanation

For beginner levels it can be really helpful to have a non-native speaker who is genuinely fluent in the student’s language; they can explain some of the things that someone who only spoke English couldn’t, they are more likely to speak slowly in a way the students will understand, rather be tempted to talk in a conversational way that is really only appropriate at higher learning levels. If they speak the language of their students, then they are likely to understand their culture too and know the teaching styles they’re used to. They will be able to make use of appropriate translation techniques to enhance their teaching, which would not be available to native speakers. Many native speakers need to refresh their grammar when becoming TEFL teacher and they have a natural feel for the language, non-native speakers are better to explain grammatical rules and concepts to their students because they have learned the grammar thorough out the years.

Also Read: The Value of Observed Teaching Practice for ESL Teachers

Pronunciation Difficulties

Some of the problems that will face a non-native speaker in the classroom are the pronunciation, it will always be a little difficult to whatever pronunciation they are trying to teach their students. Native speakers have the target pronunciation and while they may have their own local accent (British, Australian, American), they do not have any other foreign accents. For this reason, they are better pronunciation models for ESL students. Non-native speakers are likely to make some errors themselves and, worse, may not even realize they are making them. Their vocabulary will be smaller. They will not have as much knowledge of the underlying culture that the language they are teaching is part of. It takes a great deal of practice to use expressions, slang, and informal language correctly and with confidence. Native speakers are better equipped to correct students and redirect their efforts when using informal language.

Also Read: My Personal Teaching Experience - The Different Roles of an ESL Teacher

The Ability to Teach

As far as native English speakers are concerned, the main advantage is that they can speak English clearly, confidently and with excellent pronunciation. But that does not mean they are able to teach. By the same token, the fact that you speak English with a foreign accent does not mean you can not be a great teacher. ESL teachers must teach. It helps if they speak English perfectly. But you can still be a great teacher even if you do not.

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In conclusion, it is not that some teachers are good, and some teachers are bad. I see it differently. Some teachers are experienced, and some are inexperienced. You must be patient when you start out. But as you gather more experience, you will feel more confident in your skills and ability to teach, no matter if you are native or non-native.

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