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pronunciation standards
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Joined: 30 Aug 2003
Posts: 5
Location: Canada/Korea

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2003 5:02 am    Post subject: TO BE OR NOT TO BE...NATIVE Reply with quote

I have been hired by a recruiter to teach English to kindergarten kids in Korea. Since I am here I have been surfing on the Net, and all the jobs offers specify that you MUST BE A NATIVE SPEAKER.

When I discovered that, I started to ask myself many questions. First, that the recruiter had probably told my employer that I was a NATIVE SPEAKER...(They will never know...I have a Canadian passeport, I have a "white face"...) But the fact is that I am a French Canadian and speak English as a "second language". I have a high level of fluency in English, I understand when I watch the news on TV, when I watch a moovie...I read books in English, I read the newspaper in English, I've been working in an English environment for many months, etc...but I still have a "French accent" when I speak it...

Can my "accent", that I minimize as much as I can when I teach, cause damage to my students??? ...I don't think so, because I also use audiotapes and children seem to understand the tapes (in "american standard English") as well as they understand when I speak to them...I think it takes a high level in a language to be able to recognize difFerents accents...I have a korean friend who teaches English as a higher level (elementary school) with a good level in English, and she's not able to perceive my accent...But I still sometimes feel as an "impostor"....???

What about the korean teacher who is in the class with me who says "led" to children, when I say "red", who says "lice" when I say "rice"?Should I tell her not to speak? She is also an English teacher...

Is it a misconception to hire only NATIVE SPEAKERS..? What is the reason? Why don't they ask potential teachers to pass a proficiency test instead? I think the importance is to be understood when you speak than trying to copy am hypothetical "american English standard"...

Do we live in a society where THE WAY we say things is more important than WHAT we have to say? Do we want a planet where everybody is "white" and speak an "American English"???

When I've asked people WHY it is so important to learn English, I have been told that is it to prepare for the "University exam" or the "job exam"...Why do people have to pass a proficiency test in English to get a job where they will never have to speak the language?...I'm sorry, I really don't understand...Does speaking English make a person more intelligent?????? All those exams are writing exams...Why the so-called "Native English" is so important in the children's education?

Any honest NATIVE and NON NATIVE teachers who have experiences to share Question Question Question

Thank you,

A Citizen of the world who tries to understand the world he's living in...and who doesn't want to "cause damage" to his students that he loves so much...
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1195
Location: Aguanga, California (near San Diego)

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2003 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Martin,

All your questions are good ones. And your wonderments are reasonable, of course. "Native" English teachers are not necessarily better than non-native teachers, nor does speaking English make one more intelligent. It's all rather silly, but it still is a reality you'll have to learn to accept if you're going to be content in Asia. Confused

When (at what stage of your language development) did you learn English? If you learned it while still a child (say, under 10) then you are a native speaker even if you learned French at home first. Smile Especially so if you learned if from your peers at elementary school. In any case, I wouldn't be concerned about being "an imposter" as long as your employers are satisfied that you are right for the job. I think it's simply an easy way for them to assure themselves that their teachers know what they're talking about when they give lessons to students. (Even if lots of native speakers don't actually know what they're talking about, they at least look and sound the part.)

Larry Latham
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