Dear EBF Community,
It has been a while huh. Y’all good? Hope y’all doin’ great out there. Let us get down to business. What do you think about this Native x Non-Native thing going on out there? Let me put my finger on it!
I personally think that one does not have to sound like a native speaker, but unfortunately people are very judgemental out there. Fact is that once I have mastered this “American English” thing, no one asked me for my curriculum or certificates or anything to prove my worth. Just being able to “talk like them” has been enough to get a job. That is sad and I think it is about time someone said that!
Well, I am the one focusing on different accents from everywhere and I am so in love with the varieties of Englishes all around the planet. Unfortunately, I have only been exposed to a certain set of American Englishes. Later on, though, I got exposed to other varieties of English. As a non-native speaker and teacher of English, I think no one would HAVE TO sound like a native whatsoever. Your focus should be on COMMUNICATION alone.
However, I don’t see any problem if this is your personal goal. I’ve tried to sound like African Americans because I personally identify with the way they speak and I love it. The problem is that the ELT industry imposes certain accents, regions, and looks. Have you ever come across a textbook that brings African Americans, South African, Brazilians, Ghanaians, Nigerians, or Bangladeshis? Nah, It’s always about the same accents BBC/RP and General American English.
Well, that ain’t right! You are not going to speak English only with native speakers and you should know that. Being a native speaker does NOT qualify anybody to teach the language. My whole family speaks Brazilian Portuguese as their mother tongue and I would never recommend them as teachers of Brazilian Portuguese. Same thing would go for the vast majority of my native English-speaker acquaintances and friends. I only know few who are teachers of English and qualified enough be referred to as teachers.
I’m Brazilian and I do teach PRONUNCIATION and I went to university where I majored in Linguistics and Literature. I’ve studied Phonetics and Phonology, as well as Semantics, Pragmatics, Syntax and Discourse Analysis in both English and Spanish as foreign languages, and Brazilian Portuguese. I have learned about rhythm, stress, intonation, pace, syllables, and how to articulate sounds and most importantly, I have learned how to relate English to Brazilian Portuguese so that I could guide my Brazilian students so that they could communicate more intelligibly.
I’m a non-native speaker and I understand the difficulties of a Brazilian student to learn English. Funny thing is, if you’re trying to teach Brazilian students, but you ain’t never been a Brazilian student, what makes you think you are more qualified to teach them than a Brazilian teacher who has walked in those shoes? Is it about your passport and your nationality?
Nowadays, English is spoken by about 375 million native speakers and about 1.5 billion of non-natives who will COMMUNICATE with one another, do business and researches, publish life-changing articles, and share so much knowledge with people from all over the world. Are we really focusing on one’s accent? So my passion, qualifications, certificates, diploma, trainings and experience do not matter because I do not speak a certain way?
Ultimately, I would love to share this with you… Your passport does not determine whether you are qualified to be a teacher of any language, even if you speak it natively. Knowing how to use the language does not make you a teacher. Being fluent does not make you are teacher. Using slang terms, idioms, and sounding native-like does not make you a teacher. Teaching goes way beyond how one sounds like.
If you are willing to COMMUNICATE more effectively, do not hesitate to read my e-book and watch my class. They are free of charge.
Click on the link below and download it!
Rodrigo P. Honorato