Monday, April 21, 2008

Native speakers vs. Second language speakers

I have recently been talking with friends about who makes the best ESL teacher. Is it the native speaker or the second language speaker? I have heard that some professor at Laval University thinks that in a perfect world native speakers would be the only ones to teach English. Personally, I strongly disagree with this person. I am pretty sure, in fact, that second language speakers are privileged in some ways that native speakers are not and vice versa. For example, second language speakers had the chance to learn the language being taught and therefore are more aware of the difficulties of learning the language. On the other hand, native speakers naturally have a perfect syntax and speak at a normal pace with proper stretches.

Regardless of teaching skills (such as the ability to explain), I would like to know what people think about this matter. Therefore, this post is an attempt to discuss the pros and cons of being a second language/native speaker. Please, use the comment section to do so. Thank you for participating!


Mélissa said...

I am pretty sure I'll be an amazing English teacher, regardless of my first language, namely French. I think that an advantage I might have because I am not a native speaker would be that I know how it works in a second language class because I had some all my life! I know what the students feel about this class because I lived it! Of course a disadvantage would be that when a student ask for a specific word related to a specific topic, I might not be able to answer right away! I might use this to make the students look up the words they want to know :D

Simon Bilodeau said...

(comment taken from facebook)

"My killer argument is that almost everywhere on earth, second languages are taught by native speakers, and not by people having learned it as a second language."

Michèle Ducasse said...

(comment taken from facebook)

"This statement most certainly does not apply to ESL teachers. There are more speakers of English as a Second Language worldwide, than there are speakers of English as a first language. And there there are more ESL teachers who speak English as a second language, than there are who speak it as a first language.

Another consideration is the selection of the variety of native English to be taught. To name only a few, there is Black English in the U.S., Scots English, the English spoken in the UK, Jamaican English...There are native speakers of all of these Englishes. And as a good friend pointed out to me, every single speaker of every single language has an accent. We cannot hear our own, because it is very natural to us.

It is a very worthy question, one I am sure will fuel discussion for years to come."

Anonymous said...

I recommend you Pablo Freire's book "Pedagogia del oprimido" (Pedagogy of the Oppressed), i think you would like this author.

Greetings from Argentina

PD: Sorry for my english, i'm still learning