Knowing the local language

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  • Richardavie
    Participant
    19 April, 2012 at 7:38
    • Total posts: 24

    Any thoughts on this? If you teach English to French people does it help to know French? Or can you be a perfectly good teacher without knowing the local language?

    Is think a good teacher can deliver effective classes to speakers of any language but if you know what the student is thinking and how they are translating then you have an edge.

    Thoughts :?:

    Keith
    Moderator
    23 April, 2012 at 13:21
    • Total posts: 279

    Reply To: Opinions: Knowing the language of the people you’re teaching

    I think it’s a double-edged sword.

    I agree that it can "give you an edge" and help you to know what your learners are thinking and how they’ll translate something. Anticipating learner problems with language is an important part of any lesson plan, and having this edge can help us to do this more effectively.

    A quick translation of a language item (where there is a direct and unambiguous translation) can also be a quick and effective method of conferring meaning.

    On the other hand, speaking the learners’ language well can tempt teachers into taking the easy way out, using translation when other methods fail. Apart from the potential pitfall of something not translating exactly into another language, I think there are two other dangers:

    – Learners can become too reliant on the teacher providing a translation
    – Teachers’ creativity can be stifled and laziness and uninspired teaching methods can set in. I’ve seen this happen in many observations of teachers.

    So to sum up, I agree with you Richard, that a good teacher should be able to deliver classes to speakers of any language, and should be thinking about the learners’ L1 when anticipating problems. I also agree that speaking the learners’ L1 can be an advantage, but should be used with caution…

    Richardavie
    Participant
    29 April, 2012 at 16:10
    • Total posts: 24

    Reply To: Opinions: Knowing the language of the people you’re teaching

    [quote]- Learners can become too reliant on the teacher providing a translation
    – Teachers’ creativity can be stifled and laziness and uninspired teaching methods can set in. I’ve seen this happen in many observations of teachers.[/quote]

    Agree! I always try to keep it as a last resort when all else fails.

    I think speaking too much of L1 conveys the message to the students that English is just for learning and not a language for communicating and can be slightly disheartening for them, if you constantly translate. That said, I know plenty of students who prefer it as a ‘safety net’ so they know exactly what they’re saying.

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