Education - Languages
By: - at April 22, 2013

How Can a Non-Native Teacher Instruct in English

New Teacher in front of her classAround the world, the number of students studying English as a second language has been steadily increasing. In fact, there are now more second language learners than native speakers. With this demand for native speakers has drastically increased. Language barriers, too much conservatism and an unforgiving economy forced many countries to make use of local language teachers to fill positions. With this, there are a great number of English teachers who are not native speakers.

In East Asian countries like Japan and Korea, many students who have studied English at the elementary level still lack the ability to communicate in that language. As a result, there is a great influx of language academies and tutorial centers that cater to their needs. In order to increase savings, many of these institutions hire their citizens to teach English or parents resort to sending their children to study in countries where English is spoken as a second language, like the Philippines. Despite the comments that non-native teachers lack competence, through the years, it has been claimed that what matters most in teaching language is the ability of the English teachers to model and use the language in their classrooms. The following are the ways on how non-native speakers become effective instructors of English.

Use of Handouts
What was written on paper lasts longer than spoken words. In many cases, what was memorized by the student may be forgotten and handouts should be there to serve as reference. Handouts are proven to be effective when teachers want to give definitions of words, especially those that are technical. This will also make students follow what was projected on the screen during class presentations and take relevant notes without having to copy everything. Additionally, it provides detailed information which may be difficult to look for outside the class. Students will also be encouraged to look for unfamiliar words they can find in the handouts.

Don’t Practice Vocabulary Overloading
Frustrated StudentAs with most second language learners, teachers who are non-native speakers might think that providing as much vocabulary in a day is helpful. This is a big mistake. By limiting the number of vocabulary words introduced every meeting, students will learn them faster. Since they do not have to memorize so much, words learned in a day become meaningful and difficult to forget. It is also advised that “words for the day” are to be used throughout the class for it to be appreciated. Repetition of vocabulary and modeling its use in actual situations help the students retain information and use the words with practicality.

Integrate Grammar in Lessons
When giving lessons, teachers should not isolate grammar from the rest of the macro skills in language. When taught separately, students might find it difficult to grasp the concept because there is very little chance to relate it to their everyday life. This can be done by introducing grammar rules used in expressions the students know. When students are young, pictures and other visual aids can help them understand better and for the teacher not to translate the words into the students’ mother tongue. When the teacher does not speak the first language of the student, the help of a much more advanced classmate can be utilized. Give fast learners the chance to explore the language by letting them explain the rules in their mother tongue. This will not only develop students’ independence but also foster clearer understanding of concepts by slower students.

Mind Your Language
Teacher with notebookWhen students know that you only exclusively use English during classes, they will be challenged to listen in order to learn the lessons. One very good way to start is to use the same expressions to cue the beginning or ending of your sessions. “Show me you are ready” as an opening can be a jump start in teaching vocabulary, and meaning of the expression. You can now explain the usage of the words so students have the concrete examples of its use. When explanations are not enough, make students understand “sit down” or “go swimming” by preparing some pictures or doing the actions. Another very important point is to always instruct students in complete sentences. When you want them to “open the door”, say “Please open the door” and never point to the direction and say “door, open”. Students will eventually recognize the sentence patterns and start to adapt the same.

Be Sensitive
Empathy is always helpful when teaching a second language, especially with beginners. As a non-native speaker, the teacher might have encountered the same level of apprehension and stress when attending language classes. When the students commit mistakes, correct them but never criticize. When learners realize they are given the chance to experiment with the language, they learn willingly and enjoy the class. Be generous with praises when students perform well. Students will feel that you are willing to help. As a result, they will respond more and eventually develop language skills towards the end of the class.

Summing Up
There are thousands of books and materials for language teaching but the ability to acquire the language can be fueled by the teacher. When students can communicate with their teachers and classmates easily, the attempt to acquire the target language becomes easy. Creating an atmosphere conducive to learning coupled with competence, a non-native teacher of English can help students achieve as much as they could with a native speaker. It only takes a few special considerations and strategies for the language program to work its best.





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