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Preparing non-native English-speaking ESL teachers

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This article addresses the challenges that non-native English-speaking teacher trainees face as they begin teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Western, English-speaking countries. Despite a great deal of training, non-native speaker teachers may be viewed as inadequate language teachers because they often lack native speaker competence in the target language and culture. However, non-native speaker teachers possess distinct advantages over native speakers including a deeper understanding of learners' first languages and an ability to explain second language features in ways that students can understand. This article explores the linguistic and pedagogical skills that are required for teaching ESL to immigrant students in primary and secondary schools. It concludes that while it is important for non-native teachers to continuously strive to attain high levels of written and oral proficiencies in English, they must also become familiar with the discourse and cultures of the schools and communities in which they work. In addition, non-native teacher candidates need to be trained to become ethnographers of their own and others' interactions and draw on the knowledge about the different ways of learning and using language to grow as teachers and professionals. This article provides specific suggestions for teacher education programs to better prepare non-native teachers to meet these challenges.
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Keywords: NNEST; TESOL teacher education; critical pedagogy; non-native English-speaking teachers; teacher identity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Education, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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