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Non-native English teachers on 4-week initial training courses : a study IATEFL Glasgow 2012 Jenny Johnson Cactus Worldwide.

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Presentation on theme: "Non-native English teachers on 4-week initial training courses : a study IATEFL Glasgow 2012 Jenny Johnson Cactus Worldwide."— Presentation transcript:

1 Non-native English teachers on 4-week initial training courses : a study IATEFL Glasgow 2012 Jenny Johnson Cactus Worldwide

2 The background Up to 30% of CELTA candidates and around 15% of Trinity CertTESOL candidates are NNS ( private communications ) Theres almost no research into NNS trainees experiences on 4-week courses or into how trainers respond to NNS trainees. In the wider teacher education context, (MA TESOL courses), it is claimed that there are discourses, which disempower NNS trainee teachers (Brutt-Griffler & Samimy,1999) Discourses – include ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting (Gee, 1998:51)

3 The aim of the study Is there the same disempowerment on 4 week courses? Do non-native speaker teachers suffer feelings of inferiority and powerlessness on 4-week courses? Do they feel fraudulent, impostor-like (Bernat, 2008), and that they do not have legitimate access (Golombek & Jordan, 2005) to the ELT community? Do the 'disempowering discourses' which appear, from the literature, to exist in some teacher education contexts, such as US MA TESOL courses, exist in 4-week, initial training courses such as the Cambridge ESOL CELTA or the Trinity CertTESOL?

4 The study The research –Masters in ELT dissertation The participants: –21 trainers their views & expectations –14 non-native trainees their views & experiences The tools: SurveyMonkey questionnaires

5 The questions Is there a difference in tutors' expectations for NS and NNS trainees and how tutors 'treat' NS and NNS trainees? Do NNS trainees feel differentiated / discriminated against? Do NNS trainees feel inferior (or superior) to their NS co-participants? Does the course empower or disempower NNS trainees?

6 NNS disadvantages … the concerns of NNESTs according to the literature: (Kamhi-Stein, 2000:10) low confidence and self-perceived challenges to professional competence self-perceived language needs lack of voice and visibility in the TESOL profession self-perceived prejudice based on ethnicity or non-native status

7 NNS advantages … (Medgyes, 1992:346-347) Only NNESTs: can serve as imitable models of the successful learner of English. can teach learning strategies more effectively. can provide learners with more information about the English language. are more able to anticipate language difficulties can be more empathetic to the needs and problems of their learners. can benefit from sharing the learners' mother tongue.

8 Aspects Empathy (with students) Written work Trainees self-perception Other (taboo issues?) –treatment / prejudice & discrimination / NS>NNS respect & support / value of NNS Language awareness Language proficiency > knowing about vs > knowing how (Pasternak & Bailey 2004:157)

9 Language awareness: trainers comments I would expect non native speaker trainees to have more awareness of the structures of English compared to the majority of native speaker candidates They often have a more explicit knowledge of grammar than native speakers NNS often surprised when they realize that their knowledge of grammar and terminology … is better than that of a lot of their NS peers.

10 Language awareness: trainees comments It is certainly an advantage having learned a language - most of the [NS] had never had a language lesson before I definitely felt advantaged as for Awareness of language systems, but that may also be because I studied linguistics and because I am a translator I already knew a lot about specific language terminology, which was not the case for some of the native speakers I had to work harder on language systems I felt disadvantaged in Language systems

11 Language proficiency: trainers comments A native speaker is likely to be 'better' at the productive skills of speaking and writing NS candidates are sometimes more competent in speaking, pronunciation and vocabulary; and often more competent in writing. NSs will have an instinctive feel about collocations and probably pronunciation [this lack of instinctive feel] shouldn't affect NNS performance overall, but it can cause discomfort when they're put on the spot about vocab or pron

12 Language proficiency: trainees comments knowing the language in detail, using it fluently [is difficult] … my English is not good enough to teach advanced learners I am not always sure my pronunciation is correct and hence might be teaching pron work incorrectly I think that most of them [NS] were better than me in pronunciation and vocabulary and that's very common because English is their mother language NS are better at speaking and listening, certainly as they have grown up with the language and no amount of training can beat that.

13 Written work: trainers comments I generally expect [NNS] to have more problems with completing written assignments with the required standard of accuracy I would expect a non-native teacher to often be weaker on written assignments written language is more full of errors overall than native speakers they often contain grammatical and spelling mistakes

14 Written work: trainees comments Writing skills were more or less at a similar competency I didn't have more problems than anybody else with … writing NESTs definitely better in vocabulary and writing I always double checked everything written (especially the assignments) Yes! [had to work harder] specially on my written assignments, I had to repeat several items of them

15 Empathy: trainers comments I expect NNS from a particular culture to have greater empathy with learners from that culture NNS trainees in their own country tend to have an understanding of and empathy for students because they recognise certain problems, e.g. pronunciation issues Non-native speaker candidates have not shown any significant difference in terms of empathy with the learners I expect them to be more empathetic with learners due to their own language learning experience but often they are not and are actually more intolerant of error than native speakers

16 Empathy: trainees comments the fact that I've also had to learn English as a foreign language somehow helps when building empathy with learners understanding the learning process students go through when they study English because I was "one of them", so I had been through what they were going through I could better understand the learners' perspective

17 Trainees self perception Disadvantaged: By nationality because of not being born native Culturally: lack of knowledge and experience due to not experiencing childhood here (in UK) When seeking work: Yes, when I try to get hired Linguistically: Yes, I always feel I have to be better prepared because I may not know certain words

18 Trainees self perception Advantaged: the grammar - I know English grammar much better than most native speakers the difficulties - I learnt the language so I can tell the difficulties it may pose what learning is like - I know what learning English is like because I had to learn it myself confidence - I feel very capable of passing on my existing knowledge of the English language to others

19 Taboos (?) Treatment - No allowances made / All assessed in the same way / All given fair and equal treatment Evidence of prejudice or discrimination - None NNS value added benefits – Used as a linguistic sounding-board, a resource. Any course with a competent NNS benefits immeasurably … Mutual support - they were always very, very helpful, …. from explaining things to me …, to staring at me with a funny face when I made an important mistake in a Teaching Practice.

20 Conclusions Trainers ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting are profoundly empowering to NNS trainees NNS do not feel 'impostor-like' and feel they have 'legitimate access' to the profession They 'love the course' and their confidence is raised Being able to work well in a group is more important to course success than being NS or NNS There is no prejudice or discrimination The course empowers non-native teachers

21 Barriers to entry Stringent entry criteria 'keep out' weak trainees and allow access only to those with very advanced English It is imperative at the interview stage to ensure the candidate has a high standard of spoken and written English …… Candidates whose level of English is below the standard needed to teach all levels effectively, get rejected at the interview stage On our CELTA courses we only accept non-native speaker candidates whose competence in both written and spoken English is C2/ CPE grade A. In the past we noticed that this is the minimum level that will enable the candidates in question to undertake the course."

22 Standards "I have absolutely no problem with the CELTA course NOT being for everyone. Some people's English is not sufficient, and for that we have other courses. A program that drops the bar too low on English level, hinders the progress of the other trainees on the course and short changes the non- native teacher too". For language teachers English is both the medium and the content (Johnson, K., 2009:25). Teachers' proficiency is just as crucial as their subject matter knowledge. (Andrews, 2003) Proficient L2 users are models of what the learner can be expected to achieve. (Cook, 2008, Walker, 2010.)

23 a question … and MA TESOL courses? Is the bar too low?

24 Trainees insecurities I needed to prove that not being a native speaker was not a problem to do the course I've managed to complete the course despite being a non-native speaker it's better if you teach being a native speaker as you know the language "from the inside But I'm working hard on my English, some day it will be nearly as good as if I was a native speaker but still I feel that not being a native speaker means that I have to keep practicing the language People prefer (and in my opinion, rightly) native speakers some [students] prefer to have a real native teacher.

25 Paradoxes Trainers have different expectations of NS and NNS. Trainers treat both NS & NNS the same If trainers have different expectations for NS and NNS trainees, how can their treatment of them not differ? Trainers ways of ways of using language, of thinking, and of acting 'empower' trainees. (Some) trainees inadvertently express a belief in the superiority of NS If trainers empower, and trainees are confident, why do some trainees still appear to be in thrall to the "NS fallacy"?

26 Modus operandi? tutors need to raise the issue of different but complementary strengths at the beginning of the course as NNSs tend to think they are somehow 'less' than NSs. I think tutors need to highlight that (this) is not the case at all. I encourage them to help each other. It's important for both groups …. to respect each other and value one another's contributions. Often non-native speakers defer to native speakers and so a dynamic can develop where native speakers take the lead and become more dominant and powerful in the group. I make sure that all contributions are valued and try to raise trainees awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and their need to work together.

27 The (simple) answers Is there a difference in tutors' expectations for NS and NNS trainees YES and how tutors 'treat' NS and NNS trainees? NO Do NNS trainees feel differentiated / discriminated against? NO Do NNS trainees feel inferior (or superior) to their NS co-participants? NEITHER / BOTH Does the course empower or disempower NNS trainees? IT EMPOWERS THEM

28 Thank you! Twitter: JennyJohnson10

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