It’s a conversation that has raged on throughout the last few years about whether non-native English teachers match up to natives. At TtMadrid, we train non-native teachers on practically each course and have seen time and time again that they make excellent teachers. Let’s take a look at why non-native English teachers can excel in the classroom:
1. Experience is the best teacher
Non-native speakers have a better understanding of the learning process than native teachers, as they themselves have gone through it. They have made the mistakes and learnt from them so they are able to give their students advice on how not to get caught in the usual traps. Native speakers know and use the language, but they can’t always explain how they’re doing it. We can’t use a foreign language if we don’t understand its basic rules and those are rarely taught to the native speakers, as opposed to non-natives that have to learn English grammar with all its intricacies, from zero.
2. Only the best qualify
First of all, a non-native person needs a very high level of the language just to be admitted to a teacher training course, like we offer at TtMadrid, and pass all the assignments required by an accredited body, such as IATQuO. This means that only the best candidates are chosen, already putting them on a higher level than that of their fellow native fellow colleagues without a certificate.
They receive the same intense preparation and a wide knowledge of teaching techniques and methods as a native trainee so acquiring an accredited TEFL certificate certainly evens out the playing field. Nowadays English teachers are rarely hired by any academy, school or agency if they don’t have a certification to attest all the above mentioned skills. All the schools from the TtMadrid’s data base trust our certification and seldom distinguish between native and non-native candidates.
3. Setting a good example
One of the biggest advantages that non-native teachers have is all the hard work they had to put in to reach the level of language proficiency that allowed them to teach. This can provide students with much-needed confidence and motivation to see that it’s possible to learn English to that level.
4. Pot, meet kettle
Depending on their mother tongue (L1), non-native teachers can often have another advantage. Speaking the same or similar language as the student’s means that the non-native teacher can demonstrate when there are similarities between English and L1, as well as highlight the differences where they might need to take more care. This helps students to identify minefields and how to avoid them.
5. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Native teachers come with a lifetime of culture, accents, experiences and feelings all related to their language. They often have their own idiosyncrasies of mistakes, regional slang and also general personal preference. It’s hard to put all that aside to teach the language to someone else. As a result of not being native teachers and having less exposure to informal speech, non-native teachers tend to teach the formal version of the language and therefore, the most widely accepted. For the students it is always better to learn the formal version first because most of them will use it for work and later on will be able to acquire additional vocabulary from TV, movies and books.
TtMadrid has a long history of success training nonnative teachers and we’re always proud to have at least one non-native trainer on our team for all the reasons mentioned above. If you want to know more about the experiences of non-native teachers in Spain, check out our Grad’s stories.
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