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Old 12-10-2009, 03:27 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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I wanted to start this thread b/c there is a particular issue that I, as a non-native foreign language educator, am so utterly galled by: schools (usually private) that discriminate against non-native speakers and who even go so far as to state in job advertisements that non-native speakers need not apply.

I have yet to hear an argument that convinces me that it is somehow okay--and should remain legal--to discriminate against someone who has a degree, experience and can speak the language fluently b/c they are a non-native speaker. And yet, I see it happening all of the time because, apparently, there is nothing illegal about the practice
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:36 PM
 
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I cannot comment on the hiring practice, although private schools are free to retain anyone they want.
I do know however, that my kids have taken foreign language classes taught by both native and non-native teachers, and had a much harder time learning under a native speaker. The difficulty of learning a new language when it is accompanied by a heavily accented teacher was tough.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:04 AM
 
Location: Liberal Coast
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It was way easier when I had a native teacher. Of course, I lived in a heavily Hispanic area and grew up around the accents. Then my senior year I had a white teacher from Montana. I couldn't understand what Spanish she was trying to speak.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:40 AM
 
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I don't see the accent issue as a negative; if anything, it's a positive, and is presumably part of the reason the districts want to hire a native speaker. I don't see how it matters if the kids have problems with the accent; they'll get used to it, and that's part of the learning process. The best foreign language teachers don't spend a great deal of time in class speaking English, anyway.

It's possible (and common) to speak a language fluently but with an accent, so if I had a choice between two qualified and fluent teachers then yes, I'd go with the native speaker. It would be different if that was a requirement for any class other than a language class.

On the other hand, I don't think it makes sense to make native language status a requirement. I'd cast the net a bit wider; maybe the fully qualified teacher who lived in France for ten years is a better teacher than the native French speaker who isn't as good of a teacher.

For what it's worth, native English speakers can take their skills and take advantage of their native language experience to get jobs teaching English in other countries.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:52 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uptown_urbanist View Post
I don't see the accent issue as a negative; if anything, it's a positive, and is presumably part of the reason the districts want to hire a native speaker. I don't see how it matters if the kids have problems with the accent; they'll get used to it, and that's part of the learning process. The best foreign language teachers don't spend a great deal of time in class speaking English, anyway.

It's possible (and common) to speak a language fluently but with an accent, so if I had a choice between two qualified and fluent teachers then yes, I'd go with the native speaker. It would be different if that was a requirement for any class other than a language class.

On the other hand, I don't think it makes sense to make native language status a requirement. I'd cast the net a bit wider; maybe the fully qualified teacher who lived in France for ten years is a better teacher than the native French speaker who isn't as good of a teacher.

For what it's worth, native English speakers can take their skills and take advantage of their native language experience to get jobs teaching English in other countries.
This is exactly my point. I just find it hard to believe that schools can actually advertise "native speakers only" or "native speakers preferred" given that the US is so stringent wrt anti-discrimination policies. It seems to me that such policies would fall under the "national origin" category but apparently not.

Yes, native English speakers can take advantage of their skills and teach in other countries. However, I do not think that being a native speaker of a language qualifies someone to teach it. How many native English speakers out there feel qualified to teach English based solely on the fact that they are native speakers? For me, qualification and area of expertise have to do with what you have studied and are degreed in. A native language speaker is not necessarily qualified to teach their native language b/c they are not necessarily aware of grammar, phoenetics, syntax, etc.--all areas that foreign language degree holders have studied.

Moreover, what kind of a message does it send to the kids/students who are learning foreign languages when all of their teachers are native speakers? How encouraged and capable are you going to feel when your role model is someone who knows the language b/c they grew up speaking it rather than b/c they were able to master it by studying it in a classroom?
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:27 AM
 
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My experience is in language immersion schools where native language speakers are preferred to non-native language speakers. The students are immersed in the native language from kindergarten through 12th grade. By the time they reach middle school, most students can speak the language "as a native speaker". Native accents are an important part of the acquisition, according to the immersion philosophy.

Unfortunately, native language speakers with qualifying teaching credentials can be hard to find; therefore, non-native speakers must sometimes be substituted. Usually, in immersion schools those non-native speakers are utilized at the younger grades. Teaching in the content areas in Russian, Spanish, German or Japanese is a major challenge at upper levels. For example, science terminology takes on a whole new dimension when taught in, say, Japanese.

In two-way Spanish immersion programs, half of the students are native Spanish speakers and half are native English speakers, with a native Spanish speaking teacher who speaks only in Spanish half the day & a English teacher the other half of the day.

Of course it is paramount that the native language speaking teacher have excellent teaching skills too!
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Old 12-11-2009, 07:07 PM
 
Location: Massachusetts
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Originally Posted by bongo View Post
My experience is in language immersion schools where native language speakers are preferred to non-native language speakers. The students are immersed in the native language from kindergarten through 12th grade. By the time they reach middle school, most students can speak the language "as a native speaker". Native accents are an important part of the acquisition, according to the immersion philosophy.

Unfortunately, native language speakers with qualifying teaching credentials can be hard to find; therefore, non-native speakers must sometimes be substituted. Usually, in immersion schools those non-native speakers are utilized at the younger grades. Teaching in the content areas in Russian, Spanish, German or Japanese is a major challenge at upper levels. For example, science terminology takes on a whole new dimension when taught in, say, Japanese.

In two-way Spanish immersion programs, half of the students are native Spanish speakers and half are native English speakers, with a native Spanish speaking teacher who speaks only in Spanish half the day & a English teacher the other half of the day.

Of course it is paramount that the native language speaking teacher have excellent teaching skills too!
Right but the assumption here is that native speakers are somehow "better." FYI, there are many foreign language professionals who are not native speakers who are able to speak fluently and without an [English] accent. In fact, you would probably have no idea that he/she was not a native speaker.

Moreover, to have non-native speakers teach lower levels or lower grades b/c they are non-native spekers and, therefore, "not as good" as a native speaker is discriminatory and unjustly so. How would you feel if you knew that you could never advance in a profession past a certain point--regardless of any controllable factors, such as education and training?
That to me screams illegal discrimination.

Foreign language professionals need to be assessed according to their language skills, not their native language or country of origin. In other professions, professionals are assessed according to their skill sets, not according to their origin. Can you imagine if you were a doctor and an ad read "medical family background preferred/need only apply"?
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:36 PM
 
8,240 posts, read 14,902,624 times
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A native speaker of a foreign language knows the nuances, the idioms of a foreign language that a non-native speaker does not. I would much prefer to have a native speaker teaching me a foreign language rather than someone who had just learned it out of a book.

OP, don't YOU feel more qualified to teach English to Russians than a Russian who took 8 years of English?
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:25 PM
 
Location: LQA, Seattle, Washington
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I have heard that it's actually easier to learn a new language from a non-native speaker and I believe it.
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Old 12-11-2009, 10:39 PM
 
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This is exactly my point. I just find it hard to believe that schools can actually advertise "native speakers only" or "native speakers preferred" given that the US is so stringent wrt anti-discrimination policies. It seems to me that such policies would fall under the "national origin" category but apparently not.
The US is not a stringent about discrimination as the media or internet forum conversation would have you believe. Anyone can throw around the term discrimination, just as this thread has done, but legally discrimination has far narrower implications. Neither language nor 'national origin' as you call it are protected classes.
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