Non-Native Language Teachers versus Native Language Teachers

Non-Native Language Teachers versus Native Language Teachers

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In an ever globalising world like ours, you can be born anywhere on the sphere (Perhaps, Antarctica is a less likely destination but still… there are plenty of places to be born on our planet.) You have an instant advantage in becoming the master of your culture and native tongue the moment you are born. You begin learning your native tongue without even being aware of the process. It’s total immersion.You do not even remember learning how to speak it, read it or write it. It’s almost automatic like breathing.

Breathing!

The first action we learn right after being born! Every soul born, masters it in just a few seconds. Everybody is excellent at it… We can easily say that we are all native breathers! Now, imagine that you are hired as a native breathing-instructor to teach how to breathe to a bunch of newborns (and just for the fun of it, imagine that they cannot learn it by themselves). What would you do? How would you even start? What would your first instruction be?

Open your mouth and suck in air through your mouth or nose???

In theory, being a native and having it done a zillion times, you should be an excellent teacher at Breathing – 101. However, that’s not the case, is it? Think about Albert Einstein or Dr.Michio Kaku (if you want a more contemporary example)! Did they start gaining scientific knowledge right from the time they were born? Were they native physicists? The answer is a big “no”. But, noone can claim that they are (or would be) “not so competent” in teaching Physics, can they? We should look at the non-native language teachers the same way. There may be marvels among us (language teachers) who will always fall behind in job hunts just because we are not passport holders of a country that we are teaching the language of. Having mastered the target language for decades will not put you in front of a native candidate (in a job application) who has no experience in teaching! Sometimes the label is more important than the content.

I have no intention of offending native language teachers in this article, but don’t we at least, deserve an equal chance in professional life? Below are some points which might make non-native language teachers a choice at least:

Non-native language teachers…

* have gone through a similar learning process as their pupils and can identify the tough parts in learning the target language and take precautions…

* can explain unexpected questions about grammar points as they have not learned it unconsciously unlike native teachers…

* can adjust their level of English according to the students’ level and communicate much easier with them…

* are more intercultural and aware…

* have better sppelign, speeling, splenig….spelleing…. (or maybe I should leave this one out)

I want to know what you think. Please comment!!!

Why we like what we like

As technology keeps developing, we start drifting away from other individuals of flesh and blood close to us, trapping ourselves in prisons of solitude of our own doing (like social media…and oh! The irony!). Soon, we realize what we are desperately looking for… ; being connected to others in the first place, creating a weird dilemma … perhaps strangers but people…to real people who are geographically distanced hundreds of miles apart.

Our quest to find such connections has also affected the language we had been using for ages in unimaginable ways (though if I’m writing it here, it’s imaginable). 

The term “selfie” is a good word to demonstrate how much we progressed in terms of being connected to others; the society. 

The verb/slash preposition “like” nearly became more commonly used in its “noun” form in an overnight with the sudden impact of the social media like (here it’s a preposition) Facebook, Twitter and instagram. As we started liking (and here it’s a verb) weird looking babies’ pictures along with photos of cats, we started enjoying the impact of being liked by people whom we have never met in person. Then, the number of “likes” (and here it’s a plural noun) started to matter. Some people even paid (or still pay) money to purchase virtual followers or automatic likers. The quality of the content we like has also degraded from real works of art to masterpieces of rubbish that our stranger friends post daily. We like to be liked and this makes us proud somehow.

Here are the specifics of a social experiment I did a while ago: I posted the picture below on one of my social media accounts without a caption and guess how many “likes” I got?

38 likes within minutes…Wow! Maybe I do have some artistic qualities I’m not aware of.

P.S: Hit the like button for this article to honor the content and I’ll like one of your…err…stuff you posted online. 

The mystifying power of letters, sounds and words

What’s your favorite letter in the alphabet? 

It may sound like a weird question but I believe everyone has that one favorite letter and people are drawn to it whenever they hear its unique sound that sets off a tingle in the soul.

Mine is the letter “o”. It has always been. I love  how it’s articulated more than its round shape and marvelous curve, so it’s not physical attraction obviously. It’s much deeper.

Check out some of my favorite words in English regardless of their meanings: Parasol, Pastoral, Aroma, Slope, Mountain, Mojo, Oyster, Coral and Loo. And have you ever heard a more beautiful preposition than “Over”? They all contain the letter I have always been in love with even though not every combination works out for me. The word “telephone” repels me instead. Perhaps, I have heard it countless times from other people, strangers around me and it doesn’t feel special, unique and not only mine anymore. 

I can never explain my attraction towards “o” but here’s a theory; all the words that have great significance for life, have it inside somewhere: Oxygen, Love, Soul, God, Women, People, Booze, Bacon…

And the names “Zoe”, “Monique” and “Olivia” have always drawn me to their owners.

Weird but my first girlfriend ever, who was not that attractive other than being a redhead, was the proud owner of the name “Rosemary”.

 

Before I finish… I want to mention how I find new music to my taste: I just Google (another sexy word) music, scroll down names of unheard bands and click on the band or the song name that attracts me. You’ll never believe how that will work out for you. If I hadn’t done that I would have never enjoyed “The Mojo Men”, “Voodoo Sex Stuff”, “Coeur de Pirate” and “Katja Vandl”.

The moral of this article? 

From now on, pay attention to the people you meet, the new words that you encounter and their names and see who or what you are attracted to, to find your own favorite letter or sound.

The colors of colors

What color is the sky?

It’s light blue when clear and cloudless…

Bright red at sun dawn…

A different shade of orange at sunset…

Pitch black with tiny bright white dots at night…

White when it snows…

And even green when northern lights make an appearence in the Arctic night…

How about trees? Do they have green leaves and a brown body? Or is it something we were taught in our infancy?

Nature doesn’t have one color per each creation. There are endless color combinations there but do we lack the vocabulary to describe each hue?

Homer described honey as green, and sea as the color of champagne. The words for color he used in his works never got more various than a simple black and white mentioned hundreds of times, with a tad of green and red appearing once or twice. Was he colorblind? Can honey be green? Can seas be the color of champagne? The color blue was not mentioned even once in his works. Since it was never mentioned that he was criticized about how he perceived colors in his time, should we assume that the whole ancient Greek population was incapable of distinguishing between colors?

Or are we still colorblind in the modern era in such a way that we have compound nouns that do not represent the colors of that we have in mind; is white wine, white? Are blackberries, black? Even a blackeye isn’t black.

Is it the evolution of the human eye or the creation of synthetic colors that created this confusion?

For more detailed insight, I recommend you read the first chapter of “Through the Language Glass” by Guy Deutscher…

It changed my perception of perception. 

Valencia diaries VII – The merry people of the city

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What makes a city, a city? Although the unfolding, lengthy beach at the foot of the city helps, it’s not that. The answer is simply its people; the ones living in it and livening it up and giving it a soul.

Imagine a city where people greet their closest friends and strangers they’ve never met in the same fashion; with smiling faces and firm hugs. You can almost touch the sincerity in the air when you hear the musical word “Hola!” exchanged between complete strangers. Try saying it with a sulking face and you’ll discover that you can never do it. The face muscles won’t allow it. Not in Valencia anyway. English is spoken very little to none. Connecting to people with zero aid from language, befriending them with pure emotions, is indeed priceless. The term “language barrier” never exists there. Perhaps, this is because the city houses a mix of cultures; it’s a tiny mosaic from a world map of diverse nations.

On one of my upcoming blog entries, I will describe every single person that has made a positive impact on my life there, not because I don’t want to forget them (which will never happen) but because I want the whole world ( or the people who read my blog) to meet them. (The idea sounds boring for people who don’t know me or them but you can always choose not to read one blog entry) 😉