How can you expect to teach someone when you don’t speak Chinese, Korea, Thai, Spanish or whatever?
You don’t need to. Schools usually don’t want you to and if you do, they don’t want you to use it in the classroom.
Here is a good example: At my last job at a university in Korea, the native-speaker French teacher was fired for teaching using too much Korean.
The issue is that most EFL students have already studied English/French/Whatever language for years – in their native language. Kind of like talking about English, but using Korean, Chinese or whatever. Thus the poor level of English skills many EFL students have even after 4-5-6 years of study.
But – studying a language is a bit like driving a car. You can talk about it and talk about it, but eventually you have to get in the car and drive. With English, you can talk about it and talk about it in Korean/Chinese/Whatever, but eventually you have to learn to listen and speak in ENGLISH. That is why they hire you. To talk and teach in English.
Teachers who use too much of the students’ first language actually devalue their worth as a native speaker. Why should the school hire you and pay you double what they pay a local teacher if you are going to teach in Korean?
They can just hire a well skilled local teacher instead, usually for half the money or even less. And no need to pay for airfare, accommodation and other expensive things foreigners need – like work permits, visas, etc.
The issue becomes more important after you spend a few years in a country and begin to gain some facility in the local language.
TED’s Tips™ #1: It is important to remember your function as a “native speaker”. It is better to minimize the use of the local language in your classroom or even better yet – not use it all.
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