Everything you ever wanted to know about English language teaching panel

Interview description

Catherine Walter, Carol Read and Jeremy Harmer answer questions from the IATEFL Online audience, covering topics ranging from discrimination against non-native speaker teachers, to the English we teach in the classroom, and even some ideas for a favourite lesson.


I agree!! I believe that native speakers became aware of this and are studying more and more about the language though so I am sure that we will have more natives teaching GRAMMAR in a better way!


Note: Teachers in Argentina are really good!! They study hard, we have really good unis and models. People here in Argentina do not speak two languages. We speak spanish and English is huge but in private schools. I just wanted to share something... Do not know why but from what I know, teachers in Argentina do not have a STRONG ACCENT. I think that different from people in Germany, china, india, Brazil, etc... 

Would that have to do with the type of language, romantic -germanic? Or do you think that it has to do more with the training we get? 




Hi Gabriela. I'd say it's a bit of both. If the teacher is aware of the different sounds between a student's mother tongue and English, pronunciation difficulties can be dealt with, but also I think the sounds of the English language are easier for Spanish speakers because of their common roots. People in East and South East Asia have problems with things like consonant clusters and simply can't get their tongues round it. But also, in Thailand where I live, the teaching of English pronunciation can be pretty awful. This sketch from a Thai comedy programme is pretty close to the truth.

I'd say people who've learned English as a second/foreign language can explain grammar a lot better than native speakers. With some tricky parts of grammar, I'm often at a loss to explain it - "that's just the way it is!". They're also MUCH better at teaching English to beginners and elementary students because you can then use the student's mother tongue to explain English (native speaking teachers can do this in non-verbal ways too, but it's a lot slower and a far less effective use of a student's time).

On the goals of teaching English, I'd agree with the panel again. The vast majority of English language learners are now learning English to communicte with other non-native speakers from other parts of the world. You don't need native-like English (accent, grasp of idiomatic language, ability to understand jokes) to communicate.

Interesting that they touched on online learning at the end, as I teach online and run a blog about teaching English online. Yes, having a teacher with you is good, but online teaching is also face-to-face, albeit via a webcam, and a lot of online teaching is done on a one-to-one basis so it's actually a far more effective way of learning than being in a classroom with one teacher shared with 10 or 20 other students.

As the person who asked the last question, I would like to thank IATEFL and the British Council as well as all the twitterati #ELTchat groups, BELTA, bloggers (shout out to Sandie Millen and Lizzie Pinnard) and so many others who do everything possible to open up access to improving skills and sharing worldwide. Things are generally moving in the right direction in bridging the gap between CELTA trained teachers and the vast majority of Eng teachers around the world. Compared to other sectors of activity, I am constantly impressed by the openess and dedication of ELT professionals in sharing with colleagues. Perhaps teachers have a natural desire to share skills with others? 

I do feel that the gap is still huge, though, whether it be for technical, financial or political reasons. The vast numbers of teachers scattered all over the world who enroll in online MOOCS demonstrate this well. I encourage everybody to keep opening up doors and get involved whenever possible.

Looking forward to watching as many recorded sessions as possible!

Hi Eily - many thanks for taking the time to post your comment and for the feedback. We're aware that what Manchester Online promotes - or at least one aspect of what it promotes  - with the support of the British Council and IATEFL - is the opportunities related to being involved in a local teachers' association. If we can encourage teacher asspciation activity and participation via this project, we would be delighted with that, too.


Julian/ Manchester Online Team

Guess it's time to pay my IATEFL dues then, or at least plead my case with my manager, while reaching out to others through Facebook groups and keeping an eye on the TAWSIG situation.

Tx for the reply - the end of the recording left me hanging ...