The Strengths of Non-Native English-Speaking Teachers in TEFL
According to the 22nd edition of the Ethnologue, the English language ranks as the most spoken second language at 753.3 million speakers, compared to the second-ranked language which is Mandarin Chinese at 198.7 million speakers. We can see that English is the most globally spoken language by almost a billion people. There is a constant demand for English teachers all over the world and this raises a question; how can non-native English-Speaking teachers be effective EFL teachers? In this essay, I hope to answer this question by providing an insight into the various qualities and experiences that a non-native English-Speaking teacher should possess that make them effective English Language teachers.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ayman E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The Depth of Learning
Firstly, non-native English teachers had to learn the English language from scratch; this means that they have faced the same difficulties in acquiring and learning the language, similar to the difficulties their students will experience. This also means that teachers had to learn how to think English as opposed to comparing it to their native language, a problematic point to explain to EFL students.
Secondly, teachers understand how their students feel when learning the English language which can help them ease the learning process for them by tackling their learning problems in a more relatable manner.
Thirdly, non-native English teachers can anticipate the problems that their students might face as they have gone through the same learning processes and experiences as their students are currently going through.
Fourthly, non-native English teachers have had to learn the English language going from the basics of the language such as the alphabet going all the way to vocabulary, grammar, phonology, literature, and writing; this means that they did not absorb the English language naturally during early childhood, as they did with their native language. This means that they have a technical understanding of the English language which they have studied for an extended period throughout their education years.
Fifthly, Non-native English teachers can act as role models to their students as they can demonstrate a high level of English language knowledge as a Second Language which makes the teachers’ level seem reachable and relatable for their students.
Sixthly, non-native English teachers bring their fresh perspective on teaching the English language as they can factor their own past experiences both as a previous learner of the language as well as their teaching experiences to help their students learn the English language more effectively and understandably.
Finally, non-native English teachers are bilingual which means they have a strong grasp and command of phonetics which enables them to understand why it can be difficult for their students to pronounce certain sounds and this helps them tackles those difficulties from the beginning and help their students better understand the pronunciation of sounds in the English language. This also allows the teachers to use their cultural background to generate interest with the students which creates a more engaging classroom experience and presents the teachers with the opportunity to tackle cultural differences.
Overall, with the combination of the above qualities of non-native English-Speaking teachers, we can see that those various factors contribute a strong skill set for the teachers to become effective and successful EFL teachers.
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In conclusion, with the ever-present need for English teachers all over the world, the non-native English-Speaking teachers’ own past English learning and teaching experiences can help them understand their students’ feelings and the difficulties they face learning the language, teach their students how to think in English, inspire their confidence in learning the language by acting as their role models, anticipate and tackles their problems, help them tackle phonetical problems and offer a unique perspective in terms of teaching and cultural flavor for their class.
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