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Alumni Experiences

Top Benefits of Knowing a Student’s Native Language

Top Benefits of Knowing a Student’s Native Language | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Experience with foreign language is beneficial for both the teacher and the student. If students know that their teacher has some prior knowledge of their native language, it will make early communication easier for both parties. While I feel learning the student’s language is important for early communication, it shouldn’t be used more than needed. The goal of the TEFL teacher is to assist students in their acquisition of the English language. It is possible that using the student’s native language could present difficulties. I believe that commending a student on correctly completing a task in both English and their native language creates another learning opportunity for them. If the TEFL teacher has some experience with the student’s native language, it makes first-class introductions more relaxed. While this isn’t required, I feel it gives the students more opportunities to ask questions or ease into discussion if they are not yet able to do so in English.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Matthew S.

Helping beginner learners

During the process of learning a second language personally, I found it extremely helpful to have the person, place, or thing being referenced spoken in English and the second language. I feel that this is reasonable to do with early learners as they begin their journey into the English language. As students begin to associate items with their English names, the teacher could slowly eliminate the use of the native language. This slow transition is especially helpful for young learners who may not have prior knowledge of English before taking the TEFL course. If students have prior knowledge of English before taking the course, it might become positive or negative depending on the English they have learned. If the English they learned is incorrect, it will be difficult to correct their mistakes. However, if they have learned correct English, it could be very beneficial. It puts students with even a small amount of foreign language experience off to a good start.

Helping the teacher to settle in her/his new country

When creating the initial lesson plans that involve peer work, it is important to place students with prior English experience with those who don’t possess experience. This helps create a positive environment that elicits the use of English between peers. I feel that pairing students who have different levels of English is a great way to create opportunities for both parties to speak the language. Outside of the classroom, it’s imperative that the teacher identifies with the native language. For a decent quality of life in a foreign country, it is necessary to possess a base understanding of the country’s language you wish to work in. Even simple things such as ordering food, purchasing supplies, and getting directions require that you have adequate knowledge of the native language. If the teacher has experience in the local language, the transition will be easier.

To conclude, having experience in the local language is very beneficial for a TEFL course. This applies to both the teacher and the student, but more importantly, the teacher. Having this experience will build rapport and make the class more enjoyable for both parties.

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