Many non-native English speakers around the world want to become English teachers. However, lots of aspiring English teachers worry that not being a native English speaker is a disadvantage.
But is it? Let’s take a look at whether a TEFL career is possible for those who aren’t native English speakers.
Absolutely not! The ‘native speaker myth’ – the idea that you have to be a native English speaker to teach the language – is holding many people back. The reality is that non-native speakers bring a totally unique perspective to teaching English that native English speakers aren’t able to bring.
If you’re a non-native speaker interested in teaching English, you might be surprised to learn that non-native speakers make up a significant proportion of TEFL teachers. In fact, there are many non-native English teachers making a living in Spain and throughout the rest of the world.
First of all, being a teacher isn’t about having perfect knowledge of a subject. It’s about being able to communicate with people, transmitting information in a way that they understand and inspiring them to learn a life-changing skill.
It’s also about being able to empathise. This is why non-native English speakers often make great TEFL teachers – they’ve put in the hard work to learn the language. They’ve already been through the journey and know how difficult it was. They are able to see the learning experience through the eyes of their students, and can instil the confidence they need to reach levels they never knew they could reach.
Also, while native-speakers instinctively know the language inside-out, they often find it difficult to actually explain how it works. On the other hand, non-native speakers have a firm understanding of the language learning process, from the fundamentals of grammar all the way up to the intricacies of language construction.
Some non-native speakers might not have been greatly exposed to English-speaking cultures. They might be missing some cultural references, like phrases, sayings and other intricate aspects of the language. The kind of things that are hard to teach in a textbook or classroom.
They might also have to contend with general prejudices based on the myth that non-native English speakers shouldn’t be teachers.
However, these challenges can be overcome. Becoming an accredited English teacher by learning in a dynamic, international environment gives non-native English speakers the expert knowledge and confidence to become fully-fledged professional English teachers.
Studying English at a TEFL school in Europe is a great option for non-native speakers. This is because TEFL schools are often international environments, with a good mix of both UK and US native-English speakers, as well as non-native English speakers from all over the world.
This gives you the chance to immerse yourself in both UK and US English-speaking cultures, while also learning about other cultures, adding up to a richer educational experience.
Yes! Non-native speakers can study to become fully-accredited English teachers, just like native English speakers. There are plenty of TEFL schools throughout Spain that accept non-native speakers – in fact, at TEFL Iberia, around 20% of our students are non-native English speakers and this number continues to grow every year.
Certain entry requirements do apply for non-native speakers wanting to sign up for a TEFL course. An advanced level of English proficiency is required, and a high level of competence in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English will need to be demonstrated during the application process.
As a general guideline, when teaching English in Spain as a non-native speaker, you should have a C1 level of English.
Once you’ve demonstrated your English proficiency, you’ll be ready to begin your journey to becoming an exceptional English teacher!
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