How to get a job in Japan as a non-native speaker teacher following these three easy steps

You might have heard that Japan is a bit of a difficult market for ‘non-native speaker’ teachers. In fact, many of the jobs are explicitly advertised for ‘native speakers’ only.

You shouldn’t get discouraged, though. Meet Nicholas…

Nicholas Susatyo is originally from Indonesia, but he’s been working as an English teacher in Japan for several years now. And he’s thrived, where other non-native speakers have failed to get a job.

What has he done? How can YOU imitate his approach?

Watch the video to find out and learn how to get a job in Japan as a non-native speaker teacher. You will learn:

  • the three steps you need to follow to get a job as an English teacher in Japan
  • why already being in Japan can boost your chances (even if you’re just on a tourist visa)
  • the importance of a driving licence
  • how to ensure your application isn’t turned down immediately (even if you’re a non-native speaker teacher)

What challenges have you encountered as a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher? Have you found Nicholas’ tips helpful?

Let us know below in the comments section.


If you’ve enjoyed this video, and would like to watch the entire 30 minute interview with Nicholas where he goes into much more detail into how you can get hired in Japan as a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher, then I’ve got good news for you!

You can watch it now completely for FREE right here on TEFL Equity Academy.

You will learn:

  • how CELTA can significantly boost your job opportunities
  • three surprisingly simple steps you need to follow to get a job as an English teacher in Japan
  • what it’s like to work in the state school sector
  • why it’s not true that you have to be a ‘native speaker’ to get a work visa in Japan
  • top mistakes to avoid when looking for a job as an English teacher in Japan

So if you’re serious about boosting your job opportunities as a non-native speaker teacher, watch the rest of the interview for free right here.

A Skateboard With a Boost: TED Talk Lesson Plan by Lewis Lansford

If you’re like me, and you like to bring in a variety of different accents and speakers to the classroom to supplement what you can find in class, then you’ve probably tried or wanted to try using TED talks. They’re engaging, motivating and can really help showcase the incredible diversity of the English language.

But…

There are currently more than 3,000 TED talks on TED.com. So how do we choose which ones to use in class?

One reason video is so powerful in the classroom is the visual side. Moving images engage learners, but they also can carry huge amounts of information. Often, students can understand the main ideas of a talk just by looking at it – and I mean literally looking – watching with the sound off.

One way to choose a TED Talk for use in the classroom is to notice what it offers visually. What can you see when you watch it? Because the pictures can bring a lot of language into your classroom.

Here’s a highly visual talk that shows exactly what I’m talking about: Sanjay Dastoor: A skateboard with a boost. The talk is just over four minutes long, so it’s super accessible.

I’ve put together a rough lesson plan for using this talk in class – with the sound off. You’ll need to adjust the questions and the focus of the lesson to fit the level of your students, keeping it very basic with lower level learners and encouraging more discussion at higher levels.

 

I can imagine using this talk with just about any level, in most classrooms – primary, secondary, upper secondary, adult – and also in a variety of ESP classes: engineers, to talk about design, business people, to talk about marketing, and medical professions, to talk about potential injuries. TED Talks are like that. They’re incredibly flexible, because they’re full of real life and big ideas.

Sanjay’s talk is in Keynote Intermediate, if you’re interested in the support that a coursebook provides.

Good news!

If you enjoyed using this worksheet, I’ve got good news. I’m working on a few others – and also on an entire online course about teaching with TED Talks. But before I tell you about that, let me tell you a bit more about myself and where I’m coming from.

Who I AM

I’m an award-winning coursebook writer materials developer and teacher trainer. I’ve co-written two course book series featuring TED Talks for National Geographic Learning: Perspectives (upper secondary) and Keynote (young adult and adult).

My ELT career started in Barcelona in 1989, shortly after I finished my BA in English literature in the States. After teaching for about six months, I decided that I loved the job but wanted to be better at it, so I went back to Arizona and did an MA in TESOL.

After that, I taught English at the University of Arizona and then at a manufacturing company in Japan. In 1995, I took an editorial job with a major publisher in Hong Kong, and in 1997 became a freelance editor, project manager and writer based in the UK.

I’ve worked on books, videos, tests, audio materials, worksheets, apps and online materials for learners of all ages across the world. I specialize in developing classroom materials using authentic input and have been lucky enough to work extensively with print material from The Financial Times and with video from Disney, the BBC, Discovery Channel, and TED.

I’ve delivered teacher training globally with Pearson Education, OUP and National Geographic Learning, and have taught a materials development module for Master’s students at the University of Durham.

How to Teach with TED talks: on-line course

Through my work as an author, I’ve been given the opportunity to speak at a lot of conferences, and TED Talks have featured in varying degrees in many of the talks I’ve given. I’ve also written a series of posts for the National Geographic In Focus blog with practical ideas for using TED Talks.

Through talking with teachers all over the world, I’ve come to appreciate how much teachers love TED Talks but also that they often feel unsure how to use them.

I’ve also realized that after all the talks and blogging, I had enough material to put together an online course about how to teach with TED Talks. The course is currently closed for enrolment, but…

…we’re doing a pre-launch giveaway. 5 people will get FREE lifetime access to the course!

How can you win?

Sign up below and then share the course with your friends on social media. The more friends you refer, the higher your chances of winning.

To learn more about the course itself, click here.

Thanks again for your interest, and good luck teaching with TED Talks!

How to raise students’ awareness and tackle native speakerism using these five simple activities

You are probably familiar with the widespread preference for ‘native speakers’ in ELT job ads, especially as far as the private sector is concerned. However, this is just one manifestation of the ideology of native speakerism visible in our profession. And if we are serious about tackling it, we also need to look beyond the discrimination in job recruitment to identify other discourses and practices that support the ideology.

In a nutshell, native speakerism (similarly to other ideologies, such as sexism or racism) is spread, supported and normalised by seemingly common sense beliefs. For example:

  • ‘native speakers’ are better teachers
  • ‘native speakers’ are better models of the language for our students to imitate
  • students will learn better pronunciation from ‘native speakers’
  • students should be taught about the ‘native speaker’ culture in order to be successful users of the language.

Note that I use inverted commas in here to indicate that we are talking about those perceived as ‘native speakers’ since in ELT being a ‘native speaker’ is often a subjective and ideological category. This means that certain groups that do not fit the perceived image of a ‘native speaker’ might not be granted the same privileges (see for example this post about racial discrimination in ELT).

One way to address native speakerism then is to deal with some of the beliefs that support it. While it’s very important to do this in teacher education and training programs, it is also vital to address these beliefs in class with our students, especially since the discrimination in recruitment is in part at least driven by the market demand from students for ‘native speakers’.

To help you do just that, I’m sharing here a paper I wrote for The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL: “Confronting Native Speakerism in the ELT Classroom: Practical Awareness-Raising Activities”. You can download it for free below:

 

 

What are you going to learn from the article?

  • what the ideology of native speakerism is
  • three main discourses that help support native speakerism
  • how to discuss native speakerism with students in the classroom
  • five awareness-raising activities you can use with your students.

More specifically, you will get five activities which you can immediately use with your students to raise their awareness of native speakerism:

  • Activity 1: Who is a ‘native speaker’?
  • Activity 2: Strengths and weaknesses of ‘native’ and ‘non-native speaker’ teachers
  • Activity 3: My ideal English teacher
  • Activity 4: My beliefs about teaching and learning English
  • Activity 5: Choosing a language school

To give you a better idea of what kind of activities I’m talking about, let me share with you Activity 1: Who is a ‘native speaker’?


Activity 1: Who is a ‘native speaker’?

Rationale: As discussed in 2.1, numerous scholars have criticised the simplicity of the binary division into ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’ (Holliday, 2005; Jenkins, 2015; Paikeday, 1985; Rampton, 1990). It has also been shown that the two labels are subjective, ideological and value-laden (Aboshiha, 2015; Holliday, 2013, 2015), and that being a ‘native speaker’ is at times associated with being white and Western-looking (Amin, 2004; Kubota & Fujimoto, 2013). Students tend to have an idealised and less diverse view of the native speaker (Reis, 2011).

Activity: Complete this statement using your own words. Then, compare your answer with your partner. Were your answers similar? Why (not)?: A ‘native speaker’ is somebody who…

How far do you agree with the following statements? (1 – completely disagree; 2 – disagree, 3 – agree; 4 – completely agree):

  1. A ‘native speaker’ is somebody who was born only in the UK, the US, Ireland or Australia.
  2. A ‘native speaker’ did their tertiary education in English.
  3. A person who has IELTS 9 or CPE is a ‘native speaker’.
  4. A ‘native speaker’ speaks English perfectly and never makes mistakes.
  5. All ‘native speakers’ are white.
  6. There are no ‘native speaker’ in Kenya or India.
  7. Only the English spoken by a ‘native speaker’ is the real and correct English.
  8. A person born to English-speaking parents who has lived abroad most of their life is not a ‘native speaker’.

Compare your answers with other students and try to justify your choices. Which statements do you most disagree about? Why?

Read the following statement. Discuss with your partner. Do you agree? Why (not)?

Some scholars have suggested that the labels ‘native speaker’ and ‘non-native speaker’ are artificial and have little relevance in the modern world where most people are at least bilingual. These labels have also been reported to create an antagonistic view of the English-speaking community, contributing to the view that ‘non-native speaker’ are worse English teachers.


Sounds like something you might want to use with your students?

You can download this and four more activities by clicking on the button below.

 

 

References:

Kiczkowiak, M. (2017). Confronting native speakerism in an ELT classroom: practical awareness-raising activities. The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and TEFL, 6(1).

Three reasons why you need to start teaching English as a Lingua Franca (rather than as a foreign or second language)

Recently, you might have seen me post quite a lot about English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) on this blog. So perhaps, you might be wondering:

  • what’s the big deal about ELF?
  • why does Marek want me to start teaching ELF?
  • how the heck is it related to TEFL Equity’s fight against native speakerism?

That’s why in this post I wanted to answer these questions and  give you three reasons why you should start teaching ELF (rather than EFL or ESL). Ready?

We all know that English has become the global lingua franca of international communication, primarily used by its ‘non-native speakers’.

Yet,

  • ‘native speakers’ are still commonly regarded  as the ideal language models our students should aspire to
  • they’re also seen as ideal teachers.

This idea which has been frequently referred to as native speakerism.

You probably know full well that it leads to widespread discrimination in ELT recruitment with the vast majority of vacancies in the private sector being advertised for ‘native speakers’ only. But, what you might not have realised, is that native speakerism  also leads to a situation where we emphasise ‘native speaker’ pronunciation, vocabulary and culture in our classes and materials. This is despite the fact that research shows that ‘native speakers’ (especially monolingual ones) are frequently the least comprehensible English users in international contexts.

So on the one hand, we know that English is an international lingua franca. Used primarily for communication between ‘non-native speakers’.

On the other hand, we still teach it as if it was a foreign language. Used primarily to communicate with its ‘native speakers’.

And to top it off, we have the problem of native speakerism.

I believe that we can tackle these issues if we start teaching English as a Lingua Franca, rather than as a Foreign Language.

Benefit no. 1 of Teaching ELF: Promote Equality and Tackle Native Speakerism

The way I learned English and the way I was taught how to teach English also planted and cultivated the idea that ‘native speakers’ perhaps indeed are not only better models of the language, but also better teachers.

They have the right pronunciation.

They have an intuitive feel for the language.

They know the culture.

And as a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher, I don’t and can’t ever have any of that.

It does deep down make you feel inferior.

And worst of all, this emphasis on ‘native speaker’ models of the language in teaching and learning only further justifies the idea that ‘native speakers’ are entitled to better jobs.

That what matters most in a teacher is not how well they can teach, but whether they are a ‘native speaker’.

So I would argue that the first benefit of teaching English as a Lingua Franca, rather than as a foreign language, would be to address native speakerism.

More specifically, by moving to teach ELF rather than EFL/ESL, you’d be addressing some of the most fundamental beliefs and practices that help normalise, spread and justify native speakerism Let me give you three examples:

  • teaching pronunciation – using ‘non-native speakers’ as valid models and focusing on intelligibility will help address the idea that ‘native speaker’ pronunciation is superior
  • teaching culture – focusing on a wide variety of cultures and on teaching intercultural communicative skills can help tackle the idea that you need to learn about ‘native speaker’ culture, which of course only a ‘native speaker’ can provide, in order to be proficient
  • teaching listening – introducing a wide variety of Englishes can not only better prepare your students for the real English out there, but also to address the idea that it is ‘native speaker’ recordings students should be listening to in order to improve their English

Benefit no. 2 of Teaching ELF: Help Your Students Succeed

My experiences as a teacher and student of English also did not prepare me for the sheer variety of Englishes out there.

Learning and teaching English as a foreign language prepared me to interact with ‘native speakers’. To understand their pronunciation. The peculiarities of idioms and phrasal verbs. How their culture was reflected in the way they used English.

That would have been fine if I mainly interacted with ‘native speakers’.

But of course I didn’t.

I have used English mainly with other ‘non-native speakers’. So the EFL approach failed me in a way. It failed to show me how to interact in this highly multilingual English. How to navigate my way among a myriad of different cultures. How to understand countless different accents.

So the second benefit of teaching English as a Lingua Franca, rather than as a foreign language, would be to better prepare our learners to be successful users of the language in international, lingua franca contexts.

Benefit no. 3 of Teaching ELF: Engage and Motivate Your Students

When I learned English as a student, the aim (even if not expressed explicitly) was for us to speak English as closely as possible to how a ‘native speaker’ would.

When I studied to be a teacher in university, we quickly learned that there were only two correct types of pronunciation: British or American English. Any deviation from the two was wrong. And meant a failed exam.

I also remember learning a lot (both as a students and a teacher) about the culture of English-speaking countries, primarily British and US culture.

Inevitably, it gave me the impression that in order to be a successful user of English, you had to imitate ‘native speakers’. The closer you got, the better.

Of course, you never quite get there. So you continue worrying about having a foreign accent. About misplacing the word stress. About forgetting the third person ‘s.

This can be very demotivating for many students. Constantly striving to achieve what they are constantly failing to achieve.

So the third benefit of adopting an English as a Lingua Franca approach to teaching would be motivating your students. Showing them they can succeed and become highly proficient multilingual users of English. Without having to worry about not speaking like a ‘native speaker’.

To sum up, if we are serious about tackling the ideology of native speakerism, apart from the necessary advocacy work, we also need to rethink how we teach English. As any ideology, native speakerism is made to seem normal and common sense by powerful and deeply ingrained discourses (e.g., ‘native speakers’ are better models of pronunciation) and social practices (e.g., predominantly using recordings of standard ‘native speaker’ accents). And these discourses and social practices aren’t going to go away unless we actually change the way we teach the language.


If you would like to further explore these ideas and learn how to:

  • teach English for global communication
  • promote equality
  • tackle native speakerism
  • gain confidence as a ‘non-native speaker’
  • improve your job opportunities,

check out TEFL Equity Academy and start your FREE 30-day trial today.

There are currently 10+ courses and 80+ lectures with new content added every month.

What exactly will you learn?

  • how to raise students’ awareness and promote equality
  • how to teach intercultural communicative skills
  • how to help your students communicate effectively in global contexts
  • how to tackle native speakerism
  • how to write materials and lesson plans for teaching ELF
  • how to boost your confidence as a ‘non-native speaker’
  • hot to teach pronunciation for ELF use

What’s included?

  • 10+ courses
  • interviews with experts
  • new content added monthly
  • LIFETIME access
  • downloadable pre-recorded video presentations
  • lesson plans and teaching ideas

Sounds good?

You can start the 30-day trial here (only $9 a month afterwards).

And watch the video below to take a sneak peak inside the Academy 🙂

How to motivate students using recordings of successful E(LF)nglish users

A lot of the times course books feature a rather narrow range of recordings of standard ‘native speaker’ voices.

Just to give you a few examples:

  • Syrbe and Rose (2016) note that most characters presented in books are ‘native speakers’ (mostly either US or British)
  • ‘Non-native speakers’ also tend to contribute much less in dialogues, and few examples of ‘non-native speaker’ to ‘non-native speaker’ interactions are present (Matsuda, 2002)
  • ‘Non-native speakers’ are often presented as tourists in Inner Circle countries,  very seldom interacting with other ‘non-native speakers’ in ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) settings (Vettorel and Lopriore, 2013)
  • Tomlinson and Masuhara (2013) show that the coursebooks they analysed focus specifically on contemporary middle-class British English.

And typically, we might encourage students to imitate these ‘native speaker’ models as closely as possible.

However, aren’t we then encouraging them to imitate a model few will ever be able to achieve?

I’ve had lots of students in the past who have been frustrated and demotivated by not being able to speak English like that ‘native speaker’ in the recording in class.

As a student of English in the past I also certainly found it rather frustrating and somewhat discouraging that I was never able to speak English like the ‘native speakers’ I could hear in the recordings.

That’s why in this video, I’m going to show you how you can use recordings of successful English as a Lingua Franca users to motivate and engage your learners.

And as an added bonus: to also contribute to tackling native speakerism in our profession.

What are you going to learn in the video?

  • 2 reasons why recordings of successful E(LF)nglish users can be motivating for your students
  • 9 examples of E(LF)nglish users that will be great for your classes
  • how to choose the right recordings
  • a 5-minute prep lesson framework that works with any recording.

So after watching this video you will know how to motivate your students in the next class using a recording of a successful E(LF)nglish user.

Ready?

Watch the video below.

Did you enjoy the video?

Would you like to watch more similar videos and learn exactly how to teach listening for ELF contexts?

Join TEFL Equity Academy and discover 10+ courses that will show you exactly how to:

  • teach English for global communication
  • promote equality
  • tackle native speakerism.

The video above forms part of a course available on TEFL Equity Academy: “How to teach listening for English as a Lingua Franca”:

So if you would like to learn how to teach listening for ELF contexts, then check out TEFL Equity Academy and start your FREE 30-day trial today.

What else will you learn?

  • how to raise students’ awareness and promote equality
  • how to teach intercultural communicative skills
  • how to help your students communicate effectively in global contexts
  • how to tackle native speakerism
  • how to write materials and lesson plans for teaching ELF
  • how to boost your confidence as a ‘non-native speaker’
  • hot to teach pronunciation for ELF use

Sounds good?

You can start the 30-day trial here (only $9 a month afterwards).

What’s included?

  • 10+ courses
  • interviews with experts
  • new content added monthly
  • LIFETIME access
  • downloadable pre-recorded video presentations
  • lesson plans and teaching ideas

Start your FREE 30-day trial now.

References:

  • Matsuda, A. (2002). Representation of users and uses of English in beginning Japanese EFL textbooks. JALT Journal, 24(2), 182–216.
  • Syrbe, M., & Rose, H. (2016). An evaluation of the global orientation of English textbooks in Germany. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 12(2), 152–163. https://doi.org/10.1080/17501229.2015.1120736
  • Tomlinson, B., & Masuhara, H. (2013). Adult coursebooks. ELT Journal, 67(2), 233–249. https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/cct007
  • Vettorel, P., & Lopriore, L. (2013). Is there ELF in ELT coursebooks? Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 3(4), 483–504. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2013.3.4.3

Boost your confidence as a non-native speaker teacher with these two simple hacks (and get hired!)

In 2011, I applied for a job with a well-known language school in Lisbon.  I had all the right qualifications, the right experience and skills.

Or so I thought.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that I didn’t have the right mother tongue. I wasn’t a ‘native speaker’. So I was politely turned down.

I was shocked. But at the same time completely clueless:

Nobody had told me this might happen.

Nobody had told me what to do if it did happen. That I could and should fight back. And most importantly how I should fight back.

So I might have actually even accepted the situation.

Perhaps because deep down I believed that maybe ‘native speakers’ are indeed better teachers. Which is problem number 1: as ‘non-native speakers’ we frequently lack confidence. We don’t believe in our own ability to teach and speak the language just as well as any ‘native speaker’.

In the last several years I have spoken to literally hundreds ‘non-native’ teachers, many of whom are incredibly proficient. They’ve got all the right qualifications. Yet, many of them somehow still doubt their own abilities.

They worry about having a foreign accent.

They fret over making language mistakes.

Forgetting that being a ‘non-native speaker’ actually carries many advantages for you as a teacher.

Forgetting that as a ‘non-native speaker’ you can be a great professional.

That’s why in this video I will give you two simple hacks that will boost your confidence and help you get hired as a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher.


Want more tips like the ones in the video?

Would you like to boost your professional profile and increase your chances of getting hired as a non-native speaker?

Get your FREE copy of my guide “6 Fool-Proof Tips to Boost Your Professional Profile and Get Hired as a Non-Native Speaker Teacher”

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Teaching english as a Lingua Franca: How to use first language to facilitate communication

For a long time, there has been a rather negative view of using first language (L1) when communicating in English. It might sometimes be seen as:

  • an example of lower proficiency
  • or of not being fluent enough in English
  • or of not knowing the right word.

However, research clearly shows that multilingual individuals, which all learners of English are by definition, frequently use their L1 (or other languages they know) when communicating, in order to

  • facilitate understanding,
  • express finer shades of meaning
  • or assert their cultural identity.

Let me give you a personal example first of how this might happen.

At home, we predominantly use Spanish. But we also mix in quite a bit of Polish and English. So you might hear us say things like:

  • Estoy totally enkapustado – That would be said when you’ve just had enough kiszona kapusta (fermented cabbage), and you’d rather have something else. It takes a Polish word (kapusta) and uses Spanish morphology (en to create a verb and -ado to create a past participle) to coin a new word.
  • Estoy aprendiendo Dutch – I’m learning Dutch, rather than estoy aprendiendo holandes o nerlandes, or whatever. My hunch is that’s because Dutch is much shorter. So more efficient.
  • Messi scored an absolute golazo – There’s simply no good translation for golazo. A beautie, perhaps. But it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, at least for me.

Once you’re aware of it, you will start noticing this multilingual English use everywhere in ELF contexts.

The other day I was sitting in a car with four friends from different countries. And one of them was talking about their new job. And he said this: We sell to particulars.

Me being me, I obviously noticed something particular about his use of particulars.

Funnily enough, nobody else did. The conversation continued.

And even more interestingly, other people started using the word and talking about particulars.

You could take a traditional view and say that they didn’t know how to say individual clients. Or that it’s simply a false friend.

And that it was a mistake. Minus 1 point on the oral exam everyone!

Or, you could also acknowledge the fact that all the people in the car were multlingual users of English. And this is what multilinguals tend to do.

It didn’t cause communicative problems. Everyone knew exactly what he meant. Others continued using the word perhaps to show they’ve understood. Perhaps to maintain rapport and the flow of the conversation.

Other more research-based examples of using L1 are also abundant. For example:

  • Kankaanranta (2006) notes that in exchanges between Swedish and Finnish businesspeople, use is often made of the Swedish greeting ‘Hej’.
  • Japanese academics and foreign academics working in Japan make use of ‘honorifics’ such as -san or -sensei in the opening lines of their English emails, in order to show respect.

So I think it is vital I think that are students are made aware of the fact that:

  1. Their L1 (and other foreign languages they know) can be an asset, not a burden
  2. They’re very likely to hear other multlingual users of English use non-English words, so they need to be able to cope with this diversity

In short, what I think we need to do is to promote multilingual, not monolingual, English use.

In order to be able to do this effectively, students need to develop an awareness of how their multilingual repertoire can be used in ELF communication.

Of course, this is easier said than done, you might be thinking. That’s why I want to share with you an activity that will allow you to do exacty that which comes from my book I co-authored with Robert Lowe: Teaching English as a Lingua Franca: A Journey from EFL to ELF (available here on the publisher’s website and here on Amazon.com).

 

This activity is one out of 40+ activities we put together for you in the book spanning:

  • Raising awareness and developing an ELF mindset
  • Teaching listening and pronunciation
  • Teaching lexis and grammar
  • Teaching communication
  • Teaching Intercultural communicative skills

Here’s the front and back cover of the book with some more info about it:

And if you get to use the activity with your students, please do let us know. We’d love to hear how it goes.

Don’t forget to download the worksheet below:

 

And if you’re interested in buying the book, it’s available here on the publisher’s website and here on Amazon.com.

How to motivate and engage low-level learners using TED talks by Lewis Lansford

All too often, we think of authentic input such as a TED Talk as listening material that happens to have pictures – often just a person speaking. However, as a classroom resource, TED Talks offer so much more:

  • the fact that they have sound and images – often visually rich ones, beyond just the speaker – together makes them powerful tools for language learners
  • words that learners can’t understand just by listening become clearer when they’re supported by images
  • and often, learners can understand some of the main ideas in a TED Talk based on what they see, without having to understand the spoken word in detail.

If nothing else, the images themselves bring language into the classroom – something to talk about, to describe and to react to.

Lower-level language learners spend a lot of time in situations where they simply don’t know what’s going on, or where they’re struggling to keep up.

One way to improve in a second language is to get yourself into these situations as often as you can stand it, and to keep on trying to understand what’s going on, and to communicate – even when it’s really hard.

By bringing TED Talks into the classroom, we can:

  • give students some exposure to language that they probably won’t understand
  • help them to become more comfortable with this lack of complete understanding
  • and also help them to develop useful skills for gathering what information they can, and responding to it at their own level.

That’s why I prepared a worksheet that will help you engage and motivate low level learners using TED talks. You can download for FREE below:

 

How to use the worksheet

Use this worksheet in lower-level classrooms to support learners watching TED Talks, even when the talk may seem above their level of comprehension. It’s designed to work with a variety of talks.

The talks that it will work best with are shorter ones – under six minutes – with some kind of visual interest. You can choose talks that you like from TED.com. Here are four to get you started, all freely available:

Mark Bezos: A life lesson from a volunteer firefighter (4:01)
Camille Seaman – Haunting photos of polar ice (4:04)
Graham Hill: Less stuff, more happiness (5:49)
ShaoLan: Learn to read Chinese … with ease! (6:07)

After working with the talks in the classroom, if your students want to watch them at home with the subtitles – either English, or their own language – that’s no problem. But don’t worry too much about understanding every word in the classroom. You’ll find that there’s plenty to talk about at whatever level the students have comprehended the text.

Download the worksheet below:

 

Good luck, and enjoy teaching with TED Talks!

Lewis Lansford

Author, National Geographic Learning and Tutor, TEFL Equity Academy

Good news!

If you enjoyed using this worksheet, I’ve got good news. I’m working on a few others – and also on an entire online course about teaching with TED Talks. But before I tell you about that, let me tell you a bit more about myself and where I’m coming from.

Who I AM

I’m an award-winning coursebook writer materials developer and teacher trainer. I’ve co-written two course book series featuring TED Talks for National Geographic Learning: Perspectives (upper secondary) and Keynote (young adult and adult).

My ELT career started in Barcelona in 1989, shortly after I finished my BA in English literature in the States. After teaching for about six months, I decided that I loved the job but wanted to be better at it, so I went back to Arizona and did an MA in TESOL.

After that, I taught English at the University of Arizona and then at a manufacturing company in Japan. In 1995, I took an editorial job with a major publisher in Hong Kong, and in 1997 became a freelance editor, project manager and writer based in the UK.

I’ve worked on books, videos, tests, audio materials, worksheets, apps and online materials for learners of all ages across the world. I specialize in developing classroom materials using authentic input and have been lucky enough to work extensively with print material from The Financial Times and with video from Disney, the BBC, Discovery Channel, and TED.

I’ve delivered teacher training globally with Pearson Education, OUP and National Geographic Learning, and have taught a materials development module for Master’s students at the University of Durham.

How I got hooked on TED Talks

I became aware of TED Talks around 2010, when someone shared Derek Sivers’s talk Weird, or just different? on social media. After that, various talks were recommended by friends and colleagues:

and many others.

Though I could see that they might have use as teaching tools, my main interest in them was my own entertainment and engagement with fascinating ideas and great speakers. So when, in 2014, I was invited to join the team at National Geographic Learning to write for the Keynote series, I knew I was in for the most enjoyable and intellectually stimulating writing job of my life.

And it was.

One of my first tasks on the project was to watch dozens – if not hundreds – of TED Talks and choose which ones to include in the coursebook I was writing. Through this process, I began to develop some rules of thumb for what makes a TED Talk classroom ready:

  • the speaker’s pace and intelligibility
  • the length (not too long!)
  • the amount of visual support
  • the interest level of the topic.

I also began to think a lot about what teachers – and students – could do in the classroom to work with TED Talks. It was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a course. When the opportunity to write a second course – Perspectives – came along, I jumped at the chance, feeling happy to return to the process of searching through the TED archive and discovering hundreds of new talks that I hadn’t seen before.

How I got the idea of developing an online course

Through my work as an author, I’ve been given the opportunity to speak at a lot of conferences, and TED Talks have featured in varying degrees in many of the talks I’ve given. I’ve also written a series of posts for the National Geographic In Focus blog with practical ideas for using TED Talks.

Through talking with teachers all over the world, I’ve come to appreciate how much teachers love TED Talks but also that they often feel unsure how to use them.

I’ve also realized that after all the talks and blogging, I had enough material to put together an online course about how to teach with TED Talks. If you’d like to learn more about the course,  click here.

We’re also doing a pre-launch giveaway. 5 people will get FREE lifetime access to the course!

How can you win?

Sign up below and then share the course with your friends on social media. The more friends you refer, the higher your chances of winning.

Thanks again for your interest, and good luck teaching with TED Talks!

Learn how to tackle native speakerism, promote equality and teach English for global communication

It is no secret that English has become the global lingua franca.

Research shows that ‘non-native speaker’ users of the language outnumber the ‘native’ ones by at least 4:1. And this number is only going to grow in the coming years.

So how can we best help students become successful users of English in this vastly multilingual, lingua franca context?

Traditionally, all foreign languages have been taught with the ‘native speaker’ in mind. In other words:

  • students were assumed to be learning the language to communicate with ‘native speakers’
  • as a result, they should learn ‘native speaker’ language, but also the culture that comes with it
  • in order to do that, students would listen to recordings of standard ‘native speaker’ speech
  • and be encouraged to imitate ‘native speaker’ pronunciation
  • as well as vocabulary, idioms and communication patterns.

This has led to a situation where the ‘native speaker’ was deemed the only appropriate language model and the ultimate goal of learning and teaching. It is not surprising then that the ‘native speaker’ has been, and is also still, seen as the ideal teacher.

It is also not surprising that so many students express a preference for ‘native speaker’ teachers and ‘native speaker’ language.

This state of affairs has often been referred to as native speakerism.

So we’re in a situation where we know English is primarily used as a global means of communication.

BUT, at the same time we…

…tend to focus on conformity with standard ‘native speaker’ language norms, rather than communicative strategies

…are likely to emphasise standard ‘native speaker’ pronunciation, rather than intelligibility in international communication

…frequently teach about ‘native speaker’ culture, rather than about intercultural communicative skills

…might view having a foreign accent as bad, rather than simply as a sign of sociolinguistic diversity

…seem to use recordings of ‘native speakers’ much more frequently, rather than authentic recordings of a variety of English users

And, of course, to top it all off, numerous schools still hire ‘native speakers’ only, claiming that they are the best models of the language and the best teachers.

So how do we tackle this situation?

What can we as teachers, materials writers and trainers do to overcome native speakerism, promote equality and help students succeed at using English for global communication?

For the last several years I have used this blog to raise awareness of native speakerism. However, increased awareness is not enough.

To tackle native speakerism and promote equality, what is also needed is a profound change in how we teach English. A move from teaching English as a foreign language to teaching English as a lingua franca. A language for global communication.

And in order to help you do this, I am launching TEFL Equity Academy membership area.

With 10+ courses and new content added every month you will learn:

  • how to tackle native speakerism. You will understand what the ideology of native speakerism is, how it is spread in ELT and what can you do to address it, whether you’re a teacher, trainer or materials writer.
  • how to teach pronunciation for English as a Lingua Franca use. You will find out how to save time by focusing on the pronunciation features that have the highest impact on intelligibility. You will walk away with a framework that you can easily implement to teach engaging and effective pronunciation lessons.
  • how to gain confidence and increase your employability as a non-native speaker teacher. You will understand why recruiters prefer ‘native speaker’ teachers and how to debunk these arguments. You will also learn what your unique strengths are as a ‘non-native speaker’, so that you can utilise these to increase your chances of getting hired.
  • how to motivate your students using recordings of non-native speakers. You will find out why using a wide variety of authentic accents in your listening classes can help motivate students. You will walk away with practical activities, useful websites and classroom suggestions so that you’re completely ready for your next listening class.
  • how to easily create lesson plans and adapt your course book to teach English for global communication. You will learn how to prepare engaging and motivating lesson plans that promote equality, help tackle native speakerism and teach English for global communication. You will also understand how to quickly and easily adapt your existing course books, so you can save tons of planning time.
  • how to raise students’ awareness and promote equality. You will know why it is vital to first discuss both native speakerism and English as a Lingua Franca with your learners. You will walk away with an array of practical activities and lesson plan ideas, so you can save time when planning your next class.

And with new content added every month, this is just the tip of the iceberg…

And to celebrate the launch, I’m offering a limited FREE 30-day trial of the academy. Click here to get started right now.

But if you’re still not convinced, then watch this video to take a look inside the academy and see how it can benefit you.

Start your FREE trial today and learn how to tackle native speakerism, promote equality and teach English for global communication.

I’m no native (English speaker) by Luna Checchini

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t fascinated by languages.

My favorite doll scared the hell out of me when I first met her because she spoke, but she eventually became my favorite doll nonetheless.

She. Not it. I’m Italian, I treat objects as people, get used to that.

I spoke “stuffed animalese” for years; it involved speaking Italian but using just one vowel out of five, and which vowel depended on the region the stuffed animal was from, on the stuffed animals’ planet. But that’s a different story. I’m just saying that I was an eager linguist at a very young age.

I started translating song lyrics around the same time I started learning them by heart, and singing my heart out with “Back for Good” by Take That and most importantly “Hero” by Mariah Carey, which was my first attempt at translations.

I had never studied English before, and the incoherent result is still hung on my wardrobe door, next to Leo Di Caprio’s and Nick Carter’s pictures from 90’s magazines – an eternal reminder of where I started from and how long a way I’ve come. I even used to write my acknowledgments and fake interviews, which would end up on some famous artist’s album cover or in magazines – because translators deserve their own recognition.

But when the time came to choose a high school and then a major, I chose Italian. Because English for me was “just for fun”, I couldn’t imagine building a career out of it. And even when I went on to earn a Master’s Degree, it was in Teaching Italian.

Then a private tutor – a native English speaker, because I didn’t want to waste my time with Italian tutors – suggested I tried the CELTA. Me? Teaching English? I’m no native English speaker, how could that work out? “You know the grammar, you’re already three steps ahead.”

As it turned out, she was right.

But as I was training to become a certified English teacher, my inferiority complex started to emerge. I even cried my eyes out with my insensitive tutor asking why would any student in their right mind want to study English with a non-native speaker. I wish I had some super inspirational words of wisdom to remember about that interaction, but I don’t. And I kept struggling with that feeling for years, every time someone asked if the teacher for that course was a native speaker and every time I had to fake it. Because that’s what happens to a lot of us: we just fake our way through, either with employers or with students, or both.

Now that I’ve run my friends’ and my own language school for more than five years, it doesn’t hurt anymore when a student refuses to have classes with me because I’m no native English speaker.

But never in a million years, I would have imagined being in the position I’m in right now. For a lucky series of events, I’ve ended up working for LinkedIn Learning as an author. It meant challenging my inner voice way too many times, when in the back of my mind I could hear the old refrain “why would I be the right person for this job, I’m no native English speaker?!!” or when, during the shoot, that voice would be screaming “YOU TOTALLY SCREWED THAT WORD UP!! ARE YOU SERIOUS?? HAVEN’T YOU PRACTICED IT A THOUSAND TIMES??”

It was a voice that came from:

  • years of teachers diminishing us for our pronunciation, insulting our writing without providing any useful correction,
  • years of students doubting our teaching skills because of our birthplace,
  • years of parents refusing to let their children in our care because of that same reason.

It was the voice of years spent being told, “Since you’re no native English speaker you’re not good enough, you’re not worth it.”

Now that voice is still there, but I’ve learned to ignore it.

I’ve learned to listen to people who told me my writing skills were great, and that I needed to practice some of those words, but it really wasn’t a big deal if I screwed them up; to people who insisted I was the right person to talk about relationships with other cultures, because I’ve lived that kind of experience.

Luna has earned numerous degrees in foreign languages, including MAs in English and teaching Italian as a second language. She spent one year in Toronto, Canada, where she obtained the CELTA certificate to teach English as a foreign language, and then one year at Colgate University, where she helped college students with their Italian through conversation sessions, presentation rehearsals, and cultural lessons in class. Upon returning to Italy, she founded Lilbellula in her hometown of Mestre, to help as many people as possible to learn new languages. Her other passions are rock music, travel, and writing short stories. She has created an on-line course for LinkedIn Learning and blogs here.


If you’d like to get more FREE tips on how to boost your confidence and get hired as a ‘non-native speaker’ teacher, download the FREE guide “6 Fool-Proof Tips to Boost Your Professional Profile and Get Hired as a Non-Native Speaker Teacher”.

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