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What is a NATIVE SPEAKER? would you teach while travelling?

Travel Forums General Talk What is a NATIVE SPEAKER? would you teach while travelling?

1. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1113 posts) 8y

Some travellers are lucky to have the option of working as ESL teachers in the places they visit.

Especially if you are a so called NATIVE SPEAKER. In theory a native speaker of English is someone who grew up in an English speaking country and therefore, he is assumed to be fluent with the language and he has a western accent. But in reality, a native speaker has to be Caucasian? Atleast in some schools.

I was once in a room full of blondes to do a 3 day teacher training course. I wonder where are the Afro Americans?
You will find blonde eastern europeans in such trainings, but you would rarely find brunettes, unless you look like DEMI MOORE. I have been teaching for ages and I ahd to be in a room full of college students. Most of them are cute, so I lasted for 2 days.

Native speakers are people with the right passports and the right hair color? I am not really complaining, I was head teacher once and I have my own preferences. I just hate it when I have to explain why I am responding to an AD that reads "NATIVE SPEAKERS ONLY". What the hell is a native speaker? It would save time if they could JUST SPECIFY the hair color and other requirements. I don't mind going blonde as EMINEM and wear an incomprehensible Scottish accent that no one in Asia is interested in acquiring.

It seems like many people don't know what a NATIVE SPEAKERS. I have seen so many people from NON ENGLISH speaking countries/nations, who label themselves as native speakers in their CVs. Then you will see thousands of Filipinos in the same website, who are labelled as NON NATIVE applicants. Well not all Filipinos have a nuetral or American accent. But the PHIL is technically the 3rd largest English speaking nation in the world (a reality that is fast becoming a myth due to false notions of nationalism).

A school once asked me to take an exam before an interview and I was asked to identify the VERB FORMS... I missed two items and they questioned my proficiency. WELL I AM A NATIVE SPEAKER. Precisely why I find the exam difficult. It was so elementary and I have gone beyond playing grammar quizes. I'm sure BRITNEY SPEARS would fail that exam, but since she is blonde, she won't have to take it in the first place.

2. Posted by spongehead (Full Member 119 posts) 8y

Well, I hope I can provide you a clear-cut answer to this but unfortunately, the qualifying criteria for being a 'native speaker' varies from country to country. To the best of my understanding, the Philippines is generally not considered an English-speaking country because (correct me if I'm wrong), the official tongue is Tagalog. English is used administratively in certain positions and to a lesser extent, some Filipinos speak English with an accent that is considered 'non-standard'. The next best example I can give is India, where English is not the first language and similarly, many Indians speak English with an accent that's difficult to decipher.

Teaching a language as a 'native speaker' does not only mean getting the grammar right but also the pronunciation (which in turn is heavily influenced by the accent). By the way, in the few paragraphs that you've written, I spotted a couple of glaring mistakes that a 'native speaker' (self-professed or otherwise) shouldn't make:

"3 day teacher training course"
I'd suggest placing a hyphen to distinguish the number of days from the course itself.
--> 3-day teacher training course

"It seems like many people don't know what a NATIVE SPEAKERS"
-->It seems like many people don't know what 'native speaker' means.

But don't lose heart. Work harder towards your goal of being an English teacher in places you visit, I'm sure you're more than halfway there.

3. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1113 posts) 8y

Quoting spongehead

. By the way, in the few paragraphs that you've written, I spotted a couple of glaring mistakes that a 'native speaker' (self-professed or otherwise) shouldn't make:
.

I am aware of those so called glaring errors. Which is something most ESL writers don't make.

I DON'T WANT TO ARGUE. I just read somethings online that got me thinking.
I did work as an American accent trainer for two companies and I've never been to the states.

As for the Indians, I think people have a tendency to exaggerate the so called incomprehensible Indian accent, because of the label, ESL. I know some Irish people who could barely understand how Scottish people talk. I thought it was just me.

Accent is neither wrong or right, it just different. It is also something that people can wear or acquire, regardless of their nationality. I have met some teachers who argued that American English is not the really English. Such arrogance and ignorance is reflected on some ads today. They would say that English came from a country called England. But the Asian students, given the choice, would rather sound like Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama than Bridget Jones or Hugh Grant. Personally, I love the accent of my German and Dutch friends. Some students can't tell the difference between the French accent and the British accent. They just know that if it doesn't sound like Katie Holmes or Ashton Kutcher then it must be Brit.

Lets go back to the question, What is a native speaker? Do they consider Afro Americans as native speakers. Are Americans with SOUTHERN accents more qualified than teachers from other countries. "NATIVE SPEAKERS ONLY", I won't consider it racism, if they stated "MUST BE PLATINUM BLONDE AND BLUE EYED", but please say so. I saw so many CVs online from African teachers describing themselves as Native Speakers of English. And Filipinos calling themselves NATIVE TAGALOG SPEAKERs. Actually TAGALOG is not even an English word. The language is called Filipino and not Tagalog, which is the language of the Northern islands (and we have 7,107 islands). People speak English better than Filipino in other cities.

Asia is learning... Korea and China are reinventing the industry and the way it chooses it teachers. Southeast Asia has a long way to go.

4. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 8y

The standard definition for "native speaker" that is adopted in linguistics is very straightforward: one is a native speaker of those languages one acquired from the earliest stage (usually somewhere around the age of two, depending on what theory you embrace), typically without overt education (at least until the perfection stage, say five/six years and up).

The point then is not your status as a native speaker of English, but your status as a native speaker of what is generally considered standard English. What is subsumed under that label may differ considerably from one country/culture to the next, but it generally comprises some sense of Anglosaxon identity. The perception of language by listeners, especially those in the process of acquisition, depends enormously on the image they have of the speaker. This is probably why native speakers that do not conform to the learner's standard image of an English speaker have such a hard time finding employment as ESL teachers outside their own culture.

5. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1113 posts) 8y

Quoting bentivogli

The standard definition for "native speaker" that is adopted in linguistics is very straightforward: one is a native speaker of those languages one acquired from the earliest stage (usually somewhere around the age of two, depending on what theory you embrace), typically without overt education (at least until the perfection stage, say five/six years and up).
.

Interesting!

6. Posted by sirwhale (Full Member 84 posts) 8y

While i can see some points of your argument, I would like to point out that the countries that comprise the Anglosphere are by no means dominated by blondes and yes, they are infact dominated by brunettes. I have read however, that in Korea and Japan they like their teachers to look ''western'' and the rationale behind this was stated as being the lack of foreigners in the respective countries and this ''westerner'' was all part of the experience.

[ Edit: Edited on Jul 31, 2008, at 5:05 PM by sirwhale ]

7. Posted by Piecar (Travel Guru 894 posts) 8y

I HAVE taught while travelling, most recently in Cartagena Colombia....I have never witnessed someone being turned away because they were not blonde...in fact, at my last school the only person who got fired while I was there was a hot blonde

The native speaker question is so obvious that I would assume it was just a means to open a dialogue.... That said, I was once required to take something called the `Michigan Test` at a school even though I was obviously a proficient native speaker. I would think that anyone who styled themselves a teacher would be able to identify a gerund or a verb form, so I have no issue with being asked to prove that I can break down my own language. There are some terribly poor English speakers in my Canadian neighbourhood. Though they grew up in an English language culture, their conversation is filled with ridiculous patois...`So he goes, like whatever, and I`m all like yeah, duh.` and `Dat wuz fucken rad, dude. Like toetahlly swee`brah!

That kind of language is useless to a student, and if I was a school director and a prospective teacher approached me with this kind of speeh, Native or no, I`d tell him to `Like toetahlly piss off, yo!`

D

So, SA, did you teach somewhere

8. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru 1113 posts) 8y

Quoting Piecar

There are some terribly poor English speakers in my Canadian neighbourhood. Though they grew up in an English language culture, their conversation is filled with ridiculous patois...`So he goes, like whatever, and I`m all like yeah, duh.` and `Dat wuz fucken rad, dude. Like toetahlly swee`brah!

That kind of language is useless to a student, and if I was a school director and a prospective teacher approached me with this kind of speeh, Native or no, I`d tell him to `Like toetahlly piss off, yo!`

D

So, SA, did you teach somewhere

I have acquired this pathetic form of English as a means of self preservation, "Uhm its like, uhm so fucking cool"
I am trying to get it out of my system. Its funny though, how I irritate my friends with my age defying dumb blonde reinvention. But I really need to get it out in days. I have to go to an interview. My accent is so thick, I sound like a computer geek from New Jersey.

"Yeah, I was like a head teacher somewhere, you know." People ussually ask me if I am Canadian. NOW ITS LIKE ARE YOU FROM CALIFORNIA, "Yeah, I'm like from the south, you know San Diego and I'm a bit Latino."