Many schools around the world will prioritize hiring teachers that are passport-holders from countries like the United States and the United Kingdom. And boy, are they missing out. Not only do non-native English teachers bring a new cultural element to the classroom, but they bring a lot—we mean, a LOT—of expertise and skill.
Luckily, not every country or online teaching platform excludes hiring teachers from non-native English speaking countries. They recognize the sheer value that these individuals can bring to the classroom, to their students, and to their country as a whole. If you’re starting to sell yourself as a one-on-one tutor or small-group teacher, your potential employer/family might need a little more convincing on what you bring to the table.
Here are just a few of the many benefits students will receive if they work with non-native English speaking teachers.
6 reasons why non-native English teachers rule
1. You’ve actually studied the language, so you can teach it well.
Can you properly explain the complex rules of grammar functions in your native language? Can you help a new student understand the difference between “fewer” and “less” and when to use each? Can you explain why all planets are treated the same—capitalized—except “earth”? Or, worse, the it’s vs. its dilemma? Or even the word “dilemma” itself (“di” means “two” or “double” but can be used to describe any serious predicament, not just when choosing between two bad choices?).
The truth is, many of us forget the “why” behind the “what” as we grow more comfortable using our native tongue. Eventually, we justify our grammar and vocab use with phrases like “It just sounds right.” But it’s not as simple as that, and teachers who were former students of the English as a second language—like you—will be better prepared and equipped to do the hard work of explaining nuance to you.
2. You have good study tactics (and can share them).
Not only are fluent English speakers graduates of ESL classes themselves, they’ve put in the legwork of completing all of the courses, quizzes, presentations, and more. Years of study have already exposed them to myriad ways to improve their own language skills, and they’ll be able to share them—from the get-go—what served them best as they learned specific grammar rules or techniques.
Rather than have students go through the same road bumps and start/stops, non-native English speaking teachers know strategies and tactics that work best for improving your English skills rapidly.
3. They know the best TV shows, movies, Youtube channels and music for non-native speakers to listen to.
All of my foreign friends LOVED watching, well, the TV show Friends, as a way to be entertained while simultaneously sort-of studying. The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, Lady Gaga, Frozen—some forms of media are better than others at exposing you to native speakers as entertainment. If you love podcasts, documentaries, Youtube, rap music—whatever your taste—your non-native English speaking TEFL teacher probably has the inside scoop, plus a Netflix login can point you (and your iPhone) in the right direction!
4. Their learning/teaching style might be more compatible to yours.
Let’s look at the US for instance. The American education system puts a LOT of emphasis on creativity, interacting, student engagement, homework, AND frequent tests/exams. This can mean a very hyperactive class to non-American students who are more accustomed to reading quietly in class on their own or studying intensely for one major exam at the end of the semester (rather than submitting homework every day).
If you’re a student who prefers a specific style of learning or studying, chances are your teacher—a non-American, in this use-case—will have a more compatible pedagogical approach to the one you’re used to.
5. You’ll learn about a brand new culture.
One thing that many dominant western cultures are really good at is exporting their culture. We can all name Canadian actresses or a factoid about the life of a typical Australian (i.e. they all wear khaki). But what do you know about the history of Portugal? Do you want to celebrate a new-to-you holiday like Chinese New Year? Are you interested in learning popular
Step aside, Christmas. Move along, Halloween. It’s time to learn about a brand new world, a whole new culture, a new chapter of history—and your non-native ESL teacher is a great avenue to do just that.
6. Their hearts are really in it
Non-native ESL teachers know the impact that learning language can have on one’s life. They’ve lived a version of your students’ possible story—somewhere in the struggle, they persevered and have been rewarded with opportunity (like moving abroad and becoming a teacher!) that would not otherwise be possible without their hard work and dedication.
As a person who has benefited tremendously from acquiring English language skills, they’ll be fully dedicated to affording you a similar privilege. These teachers will put their heart into their work—every single day—in a way that can’t always be matched by native speakers cashing in on a skill they were essentially guaranteed.
Non-native English teachers are GREAT
If you’re a non-native English teacher feeling worried about your job prospects as an English teacher abroad, fear not. There is plenty that you bring to the table—and your acquired skills, paired with a TEFL certificate and general coaching about destinations with optimal opportunities for teachers like you, will put you on the right path to success. Find ESL teacher jobs abroad for non-native English teachers today!