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native speakers working with second language learners wanted

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Joined: 10 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:34 pm    Post subject: native speakers working with second language learners wanted Reply with quote

Hello, I am conducting my MA thesis research concerning native speakers as second language teachers. I need as many native speaking English teachers as possible who can fill out my questionnaire. It won't take you more than 10-15 minutes and it is very important so that my research results are reliable. You can complete it on your computer and send it to my e-mail - [email protected].

Thank you so much for help! Smile

PS. In close-ended questions you can choose only one answer, the most important thing in your opinion. When it comes to open-ended questions, please justify your answers. Thank you.


1. What is your sex?
a) male
b) female

2. How old are you?

3. How long have you been teaching English to second language learners?
_______ years.

4. What makes a good teacher?
a) the knowledge of English
a) the ability to motivate his/her students
b) the understanding of the studentsí needs

5. What is the most important role of the teacher in the English second language classroom?
a) controller
b) organiser
c) assessor
d) prompter
e) participant
f) resource
g) tutor
h) observer

6. Which role is, in your opinion, best performed by a native speaker and which by a non-native speaking teacher?

7. As a native speaker of English, what do you think you can give to the second language learners?

8. Do you think that the English language course can be successful without any use of studentsí mother tongue?

9. According to your own experience, what is there that native speakers have and non-native speaking teachers donít?

10. According to your own experience, what is there that non-native speaking teachers have and native speakers donít?

11. What makes a native speaker teacher special?

12. What makes a non-native speaker teacher special?

13. As a native speaker, have you ever encountered any difficulties in teaching second language learners of English? If yes, what kind of difficulties?

14. Have you ever encountered any difficulties in teaching second language students due to your lack of knowledge of the studentsí mother tongue? Have your students ever felt the need to speak their native language?

15. In what way do you use your Ďnativespeakernessí to enhance studentsí learning?

16. Do you share your experiences with non-native speaking teachers?
a) Yes, very often.
b) Yes, sometimes,
c) Yes, but quite seldom.
d) No, never.

17. Do you ask non-native teachers for help or advice?
a) Yes, very often.
b) Yes, sometimes.
c) Yes, but quite seldom.
d) No, never.

18. Who makes a better teacher of English Ė an English native speaker or non-native speaking teacher? Justify your opinion.

19. Do you think it is possible for a native speaker to make a better teacher than a non-native speaking teacher?

20. Do you think it is likely for a non-native speaker to make a better teacher than a native-speaker teacher?

21. Do you think it is attainable for a non-native speaker to have a native-like control over his English language?
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Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 3030
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Gola, I'll submit my answers here (on this thread), if you don't mind (and it could lead to some discussion!).

Qs 1-3: I am male, nearing mid-life crisis Laughing , and have been ELTing for about 12 years give or take a few fallow periods. (BTW I'd maybe phrase Q1 as 'Are you a) male b) female').

Q4: a. Without knowledge, one won't be capable of organizing the language, transmitting much of considered value etc. Of course, the other answers deal with important factors too, but -linguistic factors are just as if not more important than socio- factors in language teaching. (By the way, your answers run a b b, so you might like to correct that to a perfect a b c. Nothing to worry about though really! Cool Smile ).

Q5: b. Which links to my answer to 4. Generally b - f strike me as the most important and interconnected of the stated roles.

Q6: Native speakers will have greater powers of intuition and thus be better f) resources regarding what is and isn't grammatical (though they may not be always quite as able as non-natives to state exact formal grammatical properties/terms) or acceptable in the language, whilst non-natives can certainly make better g) tutors, especially when they are teaching learners who have the same first language.

Q7: As a native speaker, I feel that on average I am in a better position to give students the "real deal". By real, I don't mean just judge what are the best exemplars/sentences - as if authenticity inheres in and drips from example sentences themselves (though some sentences are plainly better than others, with the worst being clearly ungrammatical by any standard of English)! - but rather the wider methodology too, and how the examples and methodology relate to each other and are made (i.e. "demonstrated", authentically) to interrelate, indeed, exist (be seen to come into existence, and for a clear reason). But hey, even native speakers are often guilty of using a lot of quite barren, unauthentic/uninvolving classroomese, when they can't be bothered to continue researching and learning and thereby taking "recommended" materials and methods with a large pinch of salt. The average non-native teacher though often has no option really than to trust others' recommendations and follow them, in the form of whatever course(book), activity etc; I wouldn't mind this "bending of the knee" so much if what the knee were being bent to were actually deserving of the deference and respect, reverence even! That is, it can be hard to wean some non-natives - those who've stopped learning - from silly rules and crippling (self-)doubts. (Sorry that this answer is a bit of a dog's dinner!).

Q8: Yes, but it may then take longer to be successful.

Q9: This question (that is, the 'and non-native speaking teachers donít (have)?' part of it) was to me implicit (though left unsaid) in Q7, so please see my answer above.

Q10: Non-native teachers are bilingual (hopefully) and by definition have learnt (usually more formally than informally) to teach if not speak at least one language in addition to their mother tongue; they therefore can make good tutors for students with the same L1 (see my answer to Q6), especially if the available native speakers don't seem to be true teachers (i.e. lack enough formal declarative knowledge to be able to organize the language for teaching - see my answer to Q4), and/or lack much if any ability in the student's or students' L1 (again, see Q6), and/or lack enough awareness of and sensitivity to the students' culture. All that being said, most learners would doubtless opt for a native speaker, all other things (educational level, formal knowledge, "informal" teaching ability, bilingual ability etc) being equal between a (prospective choice for the student of) native versus non-native teacher, if only because the native speaker is the less fallible informant and has more extensive real-world knowledge of the foreign/native culture, history, people, "world view" etc etc (assuming such things are considered to have at least some bearing on courses, and their perceived/expected interactional norms etc).

Qs 11 & 12: These seem to just be other ways of asking previous questions, and I doubt if many respondents are going to give very different answers, or even bother to more or less repeat what they might have already said earlier!

Q13: Language teaching-learning is always going to be a bit "fraught", never quite "guaranteed" (or if so, mainly by those who are more businessmen rather than teachers, and to students usually more full of wishful thinking and unrealistic expectations than genuine motivation and determination) - it certainly isn't an exact science. Anyway, I reckon that the main problems in language teaching-learning are often a) the comparative lack (compared to the impossible, perfect ideal) of absolute and sure knowledge on the part of teachers, of them not being certain about linguistic matters (and the shorter the training/qualification(s) and/or teaching experience, the more severe this is obvously), b) the attudes i.e. attitudinal problems that some "bad" learners bring to the class and c) the general difficulty of the medium of instruction being the same thing more or less as the very thing to be learnt (whereas students of subjects other than languages can be taught exclusively in their mother tongue), with the tendency then to either totally conflate the product with the process and offer just conversation "lessons", or on the other hand to drone on procedurally whilst giving product too much attention and in the "process" letting genuine communicative processes and interaction suffer. I guess this c) point here could be summed up as '"the" problem of methodology posed in Approach-level terms'.

Q14: I've yet to teach students whose first language I didn't know much (though I hesitate in the case of Japanese to say quite 'enough') about. I can well imagine however that not knowing anything about (and therefore probably not even caring about) the students' L1(s) could indeed be a "problem" (i.e. certainly not ideal) for those teachers brave (foolish?) enough to dare to try teaching in such circumstances - I imagine that at the very least, such teachers wouldn't be quite as respected by their students, or as much help to them as they might otherwise have been. And the corollary to all that I've just said is that, Yes, students do sometimes seem to feel the need to speak (or rather be spoken to in) their own language, but whether their speaking their L1 amongst themselves has that much to do with their teacher not being bilingual enough would be anyone's guess (me, I'd assume that it's because the students aren't yet bilingual enough that they codeswitch - that, or they get a bit lazy sometimes); that is, the second half of your question might not follow on from the first half (meaning, perhaps there should be at least two separate questions from this?).

15. I don't see myself as 'using' my nativeness, pushing it any extra; it is simply part of who I am, and "it" (which to me includes not only all the usual, but also linguistic intution and then actually using that in research and thorough predagogical preparation!) is or should become obvious enough to students once they've enrolled (if not beforehand, in adverts, promotional materials and talk from sales staff in the school etc).

16. b. (Obviously the opportunities to (often, requests to) really depend on where one is working!).

17. b. (I find non-natives useful in "learner corpus" terms - that is, I can get a clearer idea of whatever gap there might be (or not!) between my native competence and their competence, which can help in gauging the level that certain students should be aiming for. So they are "counter"- or "double-check" informants in a sense IMHO).

Qs 18 - 20: I think I've sort of answered these interrelated, similar questions already in my answer to Q10. Cool Wink I will however turn your questions here on their head somewhat and ask myself if I think I would be a better non-native teacher of e.g. Chinese than a native speaker of Chinese would be. I think that in certain respects I could be - e.g. in teaching (English-speaking) beginners not so much the exact sounds of Mandarin but rather in how to go about forming (reasonable non-native approximations of) them, or in taking nothing for granted when it comes to explaining the nature and formation of Chinese characters thoroughly and logically. I could also imagine myself waxing lyrically about certain arcane aspects of Chinese grammar in comparison to English. When it comes to the hurly-burly give-and-take of full-on "Chinese conversation" and associated usage, acceptability and/or grammaticality judgements etc however, I would readily defer to, if not prefer to delegate such duties to, a native Chinese speaker, for obvious reasons.

Q21: Yes. But you probably won't find many like that outside of quite high-level positions in universities - that, or they'll be multilingual merchants haggling in some exotic bazaar. By the way, it might be better to rephrase this question along the lines of 'Do you think it is possible for non-native speakers to attain a native-like level in a second language (that they're studying)?'.
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