#ELTchat is a twice-weekly Twitter discussion that is all about English Language Teaching (ELT). It takes place on Wednesdays at 12pm and 9pm London time (currently British Summer Time/Greenwich Mean Time +1). Every week, hundreds of English language teachers and other professionals dedicate their tweets for an hour each #ELTchat to a topic about ELT. #ELTchatters propose topics for discussion and these are chosen before the chats by means of a twtpoll. More about following and joining in #ELTchat follows this summary.
On 27 April at 9pm BST, #ELTchat tackled the topic ‘Non-native teachers of English and their insecurities about teaching a language that is not their mother tongue!’ This was the favourite topic this #ELTchat with 36% of the vote.
At first it seemed that the exact focus of the chat had been missed – everyone was discussing the relative benefits and disadvantages of being either a native or non-native speaker of English as a teacher, rather than identifying any insecurities either group may have.
@naomishema #eltchat Hi all! I work with a lot of NNesters and they have the advantage of having grown up in the system , know SS point of view well
However, after a quick reminder, we all got back on topic. Some insecurities that NNESTs had were identified as (brackets indicate #ELTchatters I think put forward these ideas in nice succinct tweet-form – and where I have been able to identify this in the transcript!):
- pronunciation, and in particular accuracy thereof and of being able to ‘pronounce words [they may] never have heard before’ (@hakan_sentrk), and especially…
- dealing with different dialects and accents in English-speaking countries and around the world (@ShellTerrell), and…
- general confidence using the language, especially when they might be ‘corrected by someone with a “how dare you” look?’ upon making a mistake (@hakan_sentrk)
- dealing with collocations (@pacogascon)
- dealing with a climate where the learners (for whatever reason) want a native-speaker teacher
- @ShellTerrell also mentioned colleagues she knew who hadn’t been allowed to speak at conferences as they were not native speakers
However, I think that areas where NNESTs might be more confident with were also identified:
- dealing with grammar (or perhaps, more accurately described, dealing with FORM) (@Marisa_C), because of…
- understanding learners’ errors better as they share an L1 and have grown up in an English language learning environment perhaps somewhat like their learners (@naomishema)
Some mention was also made of the relative NESTness and NNESTness of private and state-provided EFL, that is, the fact that there are relatively few native-speaker teachers in state EFL in some countries and the teaching body is predominately made up of non-native English speakers. When you look at private language schools where EFL is taught, the native speaker is king/queen. However, that is probably a question for another #ELTchat!
So, how can NNESTs deal with these insecurities. These were suggestions put forward (as tweeted):
@tarabenwell: @harrisonmike @Marisa_C […] we can all improve by focusing on “intelligibility” rather than “accent”. #ELTChat
@maikelfontes: RT @harrisonmike: Teachers can get a wide range of accents to listen to from podcasts like the BBC ones: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts #eltchat #pronunciation
@BethCagnol: RT @divyabrochier: #eltchat I think it’s healthy to use materials that show worldwide uses of Eng to debunk the myth that it belongs to any one culture/nation
@divyabrochier: RT @Marisa_C: So LOADS of listening – and more listening and more listening – and KARAOKE! #ELTchat for pronunciation practice
@lolonagi: @Marisa_C recording ur self audacity and listeing to ur recording #eltchat
@japglish: @Marisa_C skype based language exchanges for free #eltchat
@mkofab: Think we should do what we tell r stds.Read,listen,learn,study,travel,communicate with NS in every possible way.Create PLN with NS #ELTchat
In addition to those above, some great links were shared:
- On NNESTs:
- Raised by NNESTs by Natasa Bozic
- The NEST/non-NEST debate by Ken Wilson
- Any obstacles for non-native English-speaking teachers on the TeachingEnglish forum
- On pronunciation:
- Session by Robin Walker at IATEFL 2011: Pronunciation matters!
- My EnglishClub pronunciation activities from Tara Benwell
- @Cybraryman1 AKA Jerry Blumengarten’s Pronunciation page
- English Central, which has some good self-access practice activities
- Not tweeted, but sent to me after the chat by Elizabeth Anne: Stephen Krashen’s conjecture on pronunciation
So, how can you join in #ELTchat???
First of all, you don’t need a Twitter account to follow #ELTchat. Simply go to twitter.com and search for #ELTchat on Wednesdays at 12pm and 9pm London time respectively. Want to know when this is in your part of the world? The times for the next two #ELTchats around the world are here and here
But you don’t want to just follow, do you?
Go to twitter.com, sign up for an account (if you haven’t already got one). Then, on Wednesday join in the discussion by adding the hashtag #ELTchat to your tweets. For more information about ELTchats, including opportunities to propose your own questions and vote in polls to decide what will be discussed go to eltchat.com. Full transcripts of discussions (and much more!) can also be found on the #ELTchat wiki.
What’s a hashtag? How do I follow them? Listen to Shelly Terrell’s informative video: