The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

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mentecuerpo
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The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

Postby mentecuerpo » Sun Sep 08, 2019 7:20 am

I have always looked for a native teacher of my target language, but this may change after watching this youtube blog.

I am not into studying English, which I should because I live and work in an English speaking country (granted, Arizona, is a bilingual State, Eglish and Spanish. You can also find many different Native American Languages, and I think Navajo is a big one here).

My English is good enough for what I need to do. I follow “Canguro English”, and even though I am not interested in learning English. I follow his youtube blogs, just because I enjoy what he says and his post have interesting content about learning languages in general: he cites journal articles about language learning and he interviews people on the topic. His approach to learning languages makes a lot of sense after I listen to him.

I just watched his video published on September 4th, and he touches on a very interesting topic: non-native English teachers.
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Re: The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

Postby Random Review » Sun Sep 08, 2019 10:50 am

mentecuerpo wrote:I have always looked for a native teacher of my target language, but this may change after watching this youtube blog.

I am not into studying English, which I should because I live and work in an English speaking country (granted, Arizona, is a bilingual State, Eglish and Spanish. You can also find many different Native American Languages, and I think Navajo is a big one here).

My English is good enough for what I need to do. I follow “Canguro English”, and even though I am not interested in learning English. I follow his youtube blogs, just because I enjoy what he says and his post have interesting content about learning languages in general: he cites journal articles about language learning and he interviews people on the topic. His approach to learning languages makes a lot of sense after I listen to him.

I just watched his video published on September 4th, and he touches on a very interesting topic: non-native English teachers.


Personally I find your informal written English very impressive FWIW. Even by the high standards of this forum.

I've worked with a lot of non-native EFL teachers. The good ones are really, really amazing. The bad ones are really, really bad.

I think with all teachers, you have to be really cautious. With natives, you might get someone with no insight at all into how their language works, no interest in teaching and who just wants to travel or to make a bit of extra cash from their mother tongue with the least effort possible. With non-natives, this is far less likely; but you may well get one who models and teaches all sorts of errors that you will pick up. I'd say these are a minority, but not a small one.

FWIW with natives, a good rule of thumb is to compare how long they have been teaching with their self-evaluation. In my experience, the really bad natives all think they are awesome teachers. Of course, there are some awesome teachers out there, but all the ones I've met have been doing it for 8 or 9 years or more. If someone's been teaching for a year and thinks they're a great teacher, IMO you should pass.

At the end of the day, each teacher should be evaluated on their own merits. I don't think it's possible to say that natives are better or that non-natives are better.
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Re: The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

Postby Cavesa » Sun Sep 08, 2019 9:37 pm

I totally agree with Random Review.

While there are good and bad teachers in both categories, the CELTA business has completely changed the market. The easily available expats wanting to live the life of their dreams and get paid for having being born into the most profitable language have changed everything. The non native teachers struggle to compete, which should be pushing them to better qualification and skills (many still suck, true). It is very hard to criticise a bad native teacher, exactly for the reasons mentioned, you will face social pressure to shut up. And while there are of course awesome teachers among the natives, many of them are simply delusional concerning their skills.

Yes, there are very good reasons for intermediate and advanced learners to prefer the natives. But a good non native teacher is superior to a bad native teacher. If you want a bad native teacher, then pay just for conversation (because that's what will be valuable) and not for "teaching".

FWIW with natives, a good rule of thumb is to compare how long they have been teaching with their self-evaluation. In my experience, the really bad natives all think they are awesome teachers. Of course, there are some awesome teachers out there, but all the ones I've met have been doing it for 8 or 9 years or more. If someone's been teaching for a year and thinks they're a great teacher, IMO you should pass.

At the end of the day, each teacher should be evaluated on their own merits. I don't think it's possible to say that natives are better or that non-natives are better.


Yes, judging every teacher individually is the only way.
But the length of their experience can be misguiding. Ask where they've been teaching (some countries have lower requirements and a different culture in schools and it matters), in what settings they've been teaching, students at what level, and whether they've prepared anyone for exams (what exams, how many students, with what results).

Especially the level of the previous students is important. I recommend not trusting any generic profiles like "I have lots of experience with students of all levels and age, with a wide range of goals and preferences". Nope, it is not humanly possible to be awesome at teaching any kind of student. Demand experience with people at your level, with goals similar to yours.
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Re: The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

Postby Cainntear » Sun Sep 08, 2019 11:06 pm

While the topic interests me, I'm not going to spend 30 minutes listen to two random people having an unstructured discussion on it.

My thoughts on the topic:

At times I'm a native-speaker teacher. At times I'm a non-native-speaker teacher. In the two roles, I act differently in some ways and but similar in most... or I would if I was the boss and teaching in Spain. My English classes tend to be near-monolingual, and my last job involved teaching people whose first languages I didn't know at all. I would feel very odd giving a Gaelic, French or Spanish lesson without using any English.

As a native speaker, I know I have the option to cheat and just say "they're getting authentic exposure" to justify almost anything I do in an English class (it's an option I never deliberately take, but on a day when you wake up to find your kitchen is flooded and you barely get to the school in time for class, leaving not even 10 minutes to run the planned activities through the printer....), whereas when teaching non-native languages there is no such fallback. But then again, it the non-native teaching, I reckon I used to find it easier to improvise a more structured alternative lesson when something fell apart, because even though I've got a very deep formal knowledge of English, I'm more consciously aware of the surface basics of the languages I learned in a classroom, so I can fall back on that instead. ("Used to" because I've found my ability to do this in English has improved with practice.

A good teacher is a good teacher. I think one of the relative strengths/weaknesses of different teaching methodologies is whether they can derive value from a bad teacher. The TEFL industry has adapted to take bad teachers (well, more strictly non-teachers) and get value out of them based on their native language. If we want to get value from bad non-native teachers, well, that would require a different approach!
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Re: The truth about non-native English teachers (with Marek Kiczkowiak) by youtube blogger "Canguro English"

Postby Random Review » Mon Sep 09, 2019 2:46 pm

Cavesa wrote:Especially the level of the previous students is important. I recommend not trusting any generic profiles like "I have lots of experience with students of all levels and age, with a wide range of goals and preferences". Nope, it is not humanly possible to be awesome at teaching any kind of student. Demand experience with people at your level, with goals similar to yours.


I think this is an excellent point. I suck at teaching teens. Not because I don't care or because I don't work hard; but because until very recently most of my experience has been with adults on the one hand and younger children on the other.

It's something I'm working very hard to try to improve. It's a very good point you make.
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