Non Native English Speaker Teachers and their insecurities about teaching a language which is not their mother tongue #ELTchat summary 27/04/2011

A PLN for ELT Professionals

Non Native English Speaker Teachers and their insecurities about teaching a language which is not their mother tongue #ELTchat summary 27/04/2011

On 27 April at 9pm BST, #ELTchat tackled the topic ‘Non-native teachers of English and their insecurities about teaching a language that is not their mother tongue!’ This was the favourite topic this #ELTchat with 36% of the vote. This summary was first posted on Mike Harrison’s blog @harrisonmike on Twitter – and it is reproduced here with his kind permission.

Thanks Mike!



At first it seemed that the exact focus of the chat had been missed – everyone was discussing the relative benefits and disadvantages of being either a native or non-native speaker of English as a teacher, rather than identifying any insecurities either group may have.

Insecure by Photo4jenifer on Flickr

@naomishema #eltchat Hi all! I work with a lot of NNesters and they have the advantage of having grown up in the system , know SS point of view well

However, after a quick reminder, we all got back on topic. Some insecurities that NNESTs had were identified as (brackets indicate #ELTchatters I think put forward these ideas in nice succinct tweet-form – and where I have been able to identify this in the transcript!):

  • pronunciation, and in particular accuracy thereof and of being able to ‘pronounce words [they may] never have heard before’ (@hakan_sentrk), and especially…
  • dealing with different dialects and accents in English-speaking countries and around the world (@ShellTerrell), and…
  • general confidence using the language, especially when they might be ‘corrected by someone with a “how dare you” look?’ upon making a mistake (@hakan_sentrk)
  • dealing with collocations (@pacogascon)
  • dealing with a climate where the learners (for whatever reason) want a native-speaker teacher
  • @ShellTerrell also mentioned colleagues she knew who hadn’t been allowed to speak at conferences as they were not native speakers

However, I think that areas where NNESTs might be more confident with were also identified:

  • dealing with grammar (or perhaps, more accurately described, dealing with FORM) (@Marisa_C), because of…
  • understanding learners’ errors better as they share an L1 and have grown up in an English language learning environment perhaps somewhat like their learners (@naomishema)

Some mention was also made of the relative NESTness and NNESTness of private and state-provided EFL, that is, the fact that there are relatively few native-speaker teachers in state EFL in some countries and the teaching body is predominately made up of non-native English speakers. When you look at private language schools where EFL is taught, the native speaker is king/queen. However, that is probably a question for another #ELTchat!

So, how can NNESTs deal with these insecurities. These were suggestions put forward (as tweeted):

@tarabenwell: @harrisonmike @Marisa_C […] we can all improve by focusing on “intelligibility” rather than  “accent”. #ELTChat

@maikelfontes: RT @harrisonmike: Teachers can get a wide range of accents to listen to from podcasts like the BBC ones: #eltchat #pronunciation

@BethCagnol: RT @divyabrochier: #eltchat I think it’s healthy to use materials that show worldwide uses of Eng to debunk the myth that it belongs to any one culture/nation

@divyabrochier: RT @Marisa_C: So LOADS of listening – and more listening and more listening – and KARAOKE! #ELTchat for pronunciation practice

@lolonagi: @Marisa_C  recording ur self audacity and listeing to ur recording #eltchat

@japglish: @Marisa_C  skype based language exchanges for free #eltchat

@mkofab: Think we should do what we tell  r stds.Read,listen,learn,study,travel,communicate with NS in every possible way.Create PLN with NS #ELTchat

In addition to those above, some great links were shared:

by Mike Harrison



2 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this, Marisa.

  2. […] and, didn’t I think I should be using English all the time, as I should be helping local non-native speaker (NNS) teachers (of which the conference was mostly made up) improve their […]

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