English Language Development for Non-Native Pre-Service Teachers

English Language Development for Non-Native Pre-Service Teachers

Andrew Johnston (Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1747-4.ch009
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This chapter is describing a plan for a mentor teacher assisting pre-service teachers during their practicum using English in an Emirati national school. The plan consists of 20 lessons that covers speaking, reading, listening, and writing to Kindergarten to primary school age students (3 – 12 years old). As an educator, the author is constantly looking for ways to enhance student's communicative abilities, especially non-native speakers of English. There is a constant need to provide scaffolding and learning situations to make sure pre-service education students feel comfortable using English language in a classroom setting. This chapter will give background information for people who want to do research into incorrect language usage and its effect on students in the classroom. It also describes an outline for a course to develop language proficiency and confidence to use communicative language in a classroom setting.
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As their classroom teacher, the author’s personal interactions and observations with this group have spanned over a two-year period. This contact led the author to the conclusion that the pre-service teachers are going into schools not fully equipped to deal with real life language interactions with the students they teach: reading, writing, listening and speaking (Cullen 1994). According to Adger, Snow and Christian (2003), language development requires teachers to know that language is culturally bound and that errors will be made by the students in classes. They also need to be able to choose appropriate materials that meet the language needs of the students. Furthermore, they need the ability to assess student language needs and plan interventions as required. Finally, they need to have a sound background in what language is and how to teach it. Below is an example of an interaction where the pre-service teacher did not intervene with an error made by a student.

“I want a apple” was stated by one of the students. It was repeated by the student teacher who then told the student “excellent”.

The above example shows that there is a distinction between proficiency levels of “…a native speaker and a non-native speaker” (Kirkpatrick, 2007). The native speaker would pick up on the mistake and correct it accordingly. In contrast, Arva and Medgyes (2000) believe that non-English speaking teachers (NEST’s) do have a distinct advantage over native English speakers. Native speakers don’t have the language proficiency to address errors in the L1, thus leading to frustration from both parties (Arva & Medgyes, 2000). There is a need for explicit teaching of the grammar associated with language and then practice using it in as close to authentic situations as possible.

Therefore, the important issue here is that nonnative speakers are the ones who have to develop and facilitate a “…English-speaking atmosphere…” in the classroom (Gardner & Gardner, 2000). They need to give clear instructions, question the students and develop an understanding of the response (James, 2001). For an example in the classroom, they will use the imperative - must to give commands and directions to the students.

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