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Top Tips for Obtaining a TEFL Certificate as a Non-Native English Speaker

Top Tips for Obtaining a TEFL Certificate as a Non-Native English Speaker | ITTT | TEFL Blog

In today’s globalized world the knowledge of English is crucial to be able to communicate on an international level. Large parts of today’s communication take place in English, making it one of the most important languages in the world. Its simplicity in grammar, structure, and vocabulary makes it relatively easy to learn and thus more suitable as a world language than, for example, Chinese. In fact, English is the largest language by the number of speakers, which means that a majority of English speakers are non-native. This places great importance on language education. It must be of high quality and ideally, students should acquire the language as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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

Native speakers vs. Non-native speakers

There has always been a debate about whether native or non-native speakers are better at language teaching. Due to globalization English teachers, today come from a variety of different countries and have different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. But many companies and schools prefer a native English teacher over a non-native. In this paper I will thus have a look at the following question: Can non-native English teachers be just as good as native English teachers?

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What is the definition of a native English speaker and a non-native speaker?

A native speaker is someone who has learned English as their first language in childhood. Non-native speakers of English have learned it as a second or third language and have a different native language. That means that being a native speaker cannot be changed and no one can ever become a native speaker of another language later in life.

In many teaching jobs, native speakers are preferred and are considered to be better teachers. They are the perfect role models in terms of fluency, accuracy, pronunciation, proficiency, and intonation. They know how to speak appropriately in different contexts and their language is always correct, which gives them an advantage over non-natives.

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Despite the advantages, hiring native speakers can result in several problems.

Often, they are only hired based on their native language and not their teaching skills. Additionally, most native English speakers have never learned a second language themselves and can be quite unfamiliar with the learning process. They might struggle to understand their student’s problems and fail to communicate appropriate solutions due to language barriers. Furthermore, native speakers might not consciously know all the rules and structures of their native language, since they learned English naturally as a child and not in a classroom setting like their students. Lastly, native English teachers might overwhelm their students, because the proficiency of a native speaker is almost unattainable to a non-native.

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Non-natives might not be as fluent or proficient in English, but they have many advantages in language teaching.

They are more familiar with the language learning process and have experienced the same problems and mistakes as their students. Moreover, they are conscious of the rules and structures of English, which makes them better at explaining and teaching. They are the perfect role models for their students since they acquired high proficiency in English as a non-native.

In conclusion, I think that non-native English teachers can be just as good as native English teachers.

When looking for a language teacher, the deciding factor should not be the native language of the applicant, but rather their teaching skills, experience and how familiar they are with the structure and rules of the language they want to teach. Being able to perfectly speak a language does not automatically make for a good teacher. Of course, non-natives still should have a high level of language proficiency and their pronunciation and intonation should resemble that of a native speaker as much as possible.

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But in the end, communicating effectively and reaching a high proficiency in a foreign language is not about being perfect all the time. It is about making mistakes and constantly trying to improve.

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